February 25, 2006

[Gaming, Personal] Silent Hill Interview

I'm really looking forward to the upcoming film adaptation of "Silent Hill." An interview with the director and composer of the film was posted on 1Up on Thursday, and I finally got a chance to read it today.

It's a great interview and it answered a lot of questions, but there was one line that rubbed me the wrong way for some reason...
We realized after two weeks in the writing process that Harry was actually motivated by feminine, almost maternal feelings. To be true to the character, it was very odd and difficult to write for him. He worked fine in the game, but for a real actor, it was too strange. It's not that he's effeminate, but he's acting like a woman. So if we wanted to keep the character, we would have to change other aspects of him'but it seemed like a mockery to keep a guy called Harry Mason and change everything about his character.
Harry didn't get a lot of extraneous character development in the original "Silent Hill," but he came across as a single parent. Some think he was acting as a mother...I think of him as acting as a concerned parent. I've heard it said that a father grows your head, while a mother grows your heart. While that's a bit behind the times, a single parent has to fulfill both roles.

So I've been trying to figure out why that quote rubbed me the wrong way. I know that when I play video games, I tend to prefer to play games that have female avatars. The reason? I'm much more protective of a female avatar than I am of a male avatar, and so I feel worse when something happens to that avatar.

However, the "Silent Hill" series is a bit different. I really enjoyed the first two games, tolerated the third and hated the fourth.

The first game had Harry searching for his missing daughter. The second game had James Sunderland searching for his wife...a woman who has been dead for some time. In both cases, the men were normal men searching for someone who really meant something to them.

The third game was a sequel to the first game (like "Quake IV" is a sequel to "Quake II"), and while all of the mechanics were there, Heather wasn't really searching for anything. She was just embedded in this universe because of her father's association with the first game. While I was protective of Heather, I didn't connect with her plight.

The fourth game was just too experimental. The "hero," Henry Townsend, had no real reason to be in Silent Hill. It was difficult to sympathize with a man who had a peephole into his neighbor's bedroom. Plus, the HUD broke immersion for me.

The "Silent Hill" series, at least for me, is about searching for what you have lost and redeeming yourself in the process. I pray that message comes across in the film.

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