Friday, December 2, 2011

Michael Mann analysis - part 11: The relationship of 'Collateral' to 'Manhunter'


Above left - from Collateral: Hit man Vincent (left) and taxi driver Max are together, throughout almost the entire movie. Above right - from Manhunter: Will Graham (left) and Francis Dollarhyde don't meet each other until their showdown at the end of the movie.

The first thing we'll look at in this post, are some of the similarities between the characters Will Graham (Manhunter) and Max Durocher (Collateral). One similarity is that each man is going through his own alchemical process. The four stages of alchemy were discussed earlier in this analysis; recall that we observed that the nigredo is the first stage in the process, and that in Manhunter, Will Graham's nigredo occurs during and just after his visit with Hannibal Lecktor. In part 9 of this analysis, we said that Max's second nigredo occurs when Sylvester Clarke is killed, concurrently with Max being approached by hoodlums. However, what's actually the case is that there is action that is being 'hidden' from the Collateral audience, and that in reality, Max is shot by the hoodlums, and everything we see in the movie after this is a dream that Max experiences, just before the point of his actually dying from his gunshot wound.

There are also similarities between the killers in each movie (Vincent in Collateral and Dollarhyde in Manhunter). Mann mentions in the audio commentary for Collateral that Vincent's first anomaly (i.e., his first deviation from what Mann calls his "machine-like behavior"), occurs when he experiences some amount of regret over killing the jazz club owner, Daniel Baker. The second anomaly takes place when he goes with Max to visit Max's mother in the hospital. Dollarhyde's anomaly is bound up with his meeting a coworker, Reba, and beginning to date her. Deviating from their normal procedures is one thing which ultimately leads to each man's respective downfall. Their respective deviations signify each man's loss of concentration on his 'job' as a killer.

Above left - from Collateral: Vincent and Max visit Max's mother in the hospital. Above right - from Manhunter: Francis Dollarhyde (on left) meets Reba.

We'll wrap up this post with some miscellaneous observations about the two movies. First, note that in each movie, the audience is effectively 'dropped' into a pre-existing situation, a set of circumstances and relationships which already exists before the film begins. In the sepearate analysis of Manhunter on this blog, the prior relationships among some of the characters are discussed, for example, the fact that Molly and Dr. Bloom had been married and divorced prior to the movie's beginning. There is also a pre-existing situation that applies to Collateral, in that when Vincent is shown in the airport at the beginning of the movie, he already has his 'assignment' (the hit list); and, related to this, there is the issue of the case to be brought by Annie. The basic scenario whereby the hits are to be performed, who is to be killed, and the reason for killing them, already exists prior to the start of the movie.

Another thing to note is that in both movies, much of the action occurs at night.

Finally, in the audio commentary for Collateral, Mann notes that Vincent and Max are "oppositional." This is obviously true of Graham and Dollarhyde.


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