Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A leaf on the wind...

This post is part of Nathaniel's "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" series in which the participants must post a single image from a movie he or she deems as the "best shot" for any particular reason.

Before I begin, I would like to come right out in the open and declare myself a Whedon fanboy. I think Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the greatest show of all time and curse FOX daily for the cancellation of Firefly. The big screen sequel to Firefly, Serenity, not shockingly ended up being my favorite film of that year and I have since seen it countless of times. With all of that said, you might guess how pleased I was that Serenity was the film chosen this week. I also went into panic mode after I re-watched last night knowing it would be way too difficult to actually pick a favorite shot. Even before I re-watched, however, there were already four shots that came immediately to mind...

Apart from being so obviously aesthetically pleasing, I love the emotions and feelings evoked by the images--the unsettling threat of the Operative's visit, the dangerous mystery of the planet Miranda, the anticipation of the epic battle sequence, and the somber mood of the funeral ceremony. Plus the colors... Inara's red dress against the green-blue mountains, Zoe's silhouette against the stark white background, the contrast of the planet with Alliance ships and the dark of space with the Reavers, and finally the gorgeous rocky sunset... just divine. So all of those shots would have made worthy candidates, but then my mind started to wander more to Serenity, or more specifically, the ship that bears that name...

"She's torn up plenty, but she'll fly true."

I still remember my reaction when the title of the film appeared in the beginning and the ship slowly came into view. It was absolute joy. That feeling would replicate itself half a dozen times whenever the ship would appear on screen either landing on a planet with its side turbines or blasting into space with its glowing rear. Of course I also remember feeling sick to my stomach when they had to desecrate the ship so it could pass through Reaver space and almost crying when it got smashed and destroyed towards the end. It's a testament to Whedon and company that crafted this ship that it literally becomes another character that you root for. This Firefly-class rickety junkyard of a ship may not be much (the film ends with a piece falling off yet again), but it is their home.

Finally, I decided to pick a singular image that was just too great to not highlight (in fact it's my wallpaper right now). It's River's dress billowing in the wind as the crew makes their first foray into Miranda. I love this shot for many reasons like all of the shades of blue present, but also because it features one of Whedon's love... feet. Plus that blue dress becomes just a work of art in the wind conjuring to mind one of the film's most quoted lines "I'm a leaf on the wind. Watch how I soar." Indeed.

Addendum: I forgot to mention the amazing post-title sequence which technically was one shot (well two shots seamlessly stitched together). It's one of my favorite title sequence ever and definitely should be someone's best shot.

Head on over to Nathaniel's website for his take as well as a list of links from others who watched Serenity and picked their best shots.


  1. So many people saw the movie before I had the chance so I got to hear lots of thoughts and opinions before actually seeing it. I remember how lovingly (almost poetically) that first scene with the ship was described by those who loved Firefly.

    I love the image you picked as your favorite. The flowing, billowing dress is a perfect contrast to her heavy, utilitarian boots. As a character she was so complicated and so straightforwardly simple at the same time.
    This image was much more powerful the second(and third, fourth, etc) time I saw it because I knew what was coming. And River knew too. But she still walks into the horror. What a woman.

  2. "She's torn up plenty, but she'll fly true."
    Oh hot damn, I teared up. I teared up, I admit it. Ugh, I *was* a wreck after this.

    I like that final shot, it reminds me of a butterfly and I thought to myself of the way moths and their ilk are fragile but beautiful and creative just like River.

  3. All very beautiful, very evocative pictures. I admit with shame-face that I don't think I've ever noticed that image of River before. It's shockingly good.

  4. Your best shot is one of many where River makes that kind of diamond-in-the-rough, elegant entrance. It's a testament to how Whedon can make something naturalistic looking out of a sci-fi narrative. And it's so great to see how River evokes so much for us participaing in HMWYBS.

  5. Thanks for all the comments everyone!

    @Diane - For me, I had just finish watching the series in a marathon right before I saw the film in theaters. So that first moment we see the ship really was akin to a religious experience of sorts! And the shot with River... yes! I love it when I first saw it and loved it every time since.

    @Andrew - I had to include that quote somewhere because whew, that was a powerful quote delivered perfectly by the lovely Gina Torress. A butterfly! How lovely.

    @Meltha - But now that you have, you will probably always see it upon re-watch and fall in love.

    @Paolo - He really does make his sci-fi a bit more lived-in than many. But then again I think that also comes from this blend of the Western and sci-fi genre. I was surprised at how many shots featured River in HMQYBS but then again I really shouldn't have been since her movements are so intrinsic to the identity of the film and Joss as a director.

  6. I'll admit that I found River highly annoying at times during "Firefly" but knew that Joss wouldn't be able to resist making her the central figure in SERENITY. She's so Whedonesque. But he does such a fine job of redefining and examining her here that I end up liking her so much more post Serenity.

    I like your chosen shot but I'll admit I was surprised at how many people chose the shot of her with the axe all backlit. To me it read as a very self-conscious image... the kind directors make when they think they have a "best shot" on their hands ;)


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