Tales of Two Patriarchies – A Quiet Place vs. The Shape of Water

I had heard some good things about ‘A Quiet Place’ so I took a moment to go and see it this past weekend, and I must admit, I thoroughly enjoyed it.  It reminded me of some of M. Night Shyamalan’s early work mixed with Alfred Hitchcock and a dab of Stranger Things.

Two ladies beside me were freaking out through the whole movie and I asked them how they liked it on the way out of the theater.  One of them said ‘I loved it! this is my third time seeing it’.  Now I don’t know if it was that good but it has been awhile since I went to a movie and enjoyed the plot and concept all the way through although I am sure most people thought early on like me that to defeat an alien that was attracted by sound you probably would use sound and the writer(s) knew that too it seems to me.  It was pretty obvious how everything was going to play out but yet there was something moving about that. Like, when you rewatch a really good movie over and over again and each time you find yourself being moved emotionally by it even though you know exactly what is going to happen.  Most horror films become dreadfully boring as soon as you know what the ‘beast in the dark’ is.  This movie did not.

As I drove home thinking about the underlining archetypes and themes in it (something I am unable to not do) I thought how in one way it was almost the complete opposite of another ‘monster’ film I had watched recently on a plane – ‘The Shape of Water’.  Now, I would never have watched that movie if I hadn’t heard that it won best picture and the version I was watching was the censored plane version.

What was most interesting to me was how each movie portrayed the traditional nuclear family’s patriarchal leader.

In one he is the protagonist and the other one he is the antagonist.

The dad of ‘A Quiet Place’ vs. the dad of ‘The Shape of Water’

  • Violent if protecting his family — Violent to show dominance
  • Romantic, sexual in a respectful way — Sexual in a demeaning, demanding way
  • Good dad, patient, teacher — Bad dad, only works and could care less about his kid

As opposed to Guillermo del Toro, Mr. Krasinski has given a dramatic yet almost forgotten model of how a male is ‘supposed’ to act.

  • He is to provide leadership.  Say no if he has to sometimes.
  • He is to work hard.
  • He is to love his wife and be faithful to her.
  • He is to love his kids and be gentle with them.
  • He is to sacrifice his life to the death if necessary.

What is the monster that lurks?  Anything that would break his family up – alcohol, infidelity, being a workaholic.

A good family takes time, sacrifice and a tremendous amount of effort but if men will pour themselves into it they will achieve dignity and purpose like no other endeavor.  The movie reflects that principle.

When men do this they do not become tyrants and even the woman (women if you have daughter[s]) in their life will have more dignity.

But, like the movie, all it takes is one scream for everything to be over.   In one night, nay in one moment he can lose everything he has built.

Which is why good men tread lightly and ‘Walk the Line’ – not because they are weak but because the nature of good in our reality is fragile and requires constant protection.

But, it is oh so worth the effort.

Thank you John.


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