John Carpenter's Christine
The 1970’s had seen a number of films responding in a most conservative fashion to progressions in technology. Like the revolt of nature film which saw the natural world decide it had had enough of humanity, technology was positioned as something that could achieve autonomy, to have a sentience and a will of its own that was dedicated to the destruction of mankind. Carpenter’s film feeds into this strain and builds upon the rather vacuous earlier killer car effort The Car (1977). In that film the vehicles sentience is painted in purely supernatural terms, whereas Carpenter opts to totally remove any sense of the supernatural from his film. The car is alive, can drive around on its own, can regenerate itself, has feelings of love, jealousy, and vengeance and is able to act on these feelings. We aren’t really given an explanation of this - it just does! Depending on your outlook this is either the films major weakness or its great strength.
From a stylistic point of view this is one of Carpenters flattest and least appealing films to look at. The use of framing is less sophisticated than in earlier productions, and DOP Donald M. Morgan fails to achieve the look that Dean Cundey had brought to earlier Carpenter films. There are one or two nice visual effects, but this has to rate as one of Carpenter’s least cinematic films. The one area the film does succeed very well in is its soundtrack. The use of 1950’s pop songs, but covered for a 1978 milieu is very effective, and Carpenter and Alan Howarth’s synthesised offerings are perhaps the only thing to remind us that this is a John Carpenter film after all.
© Shaun Anderson 2010