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One more little film study before the rest starts exploding into its legendary sex and violence, which, if you aren't yet familiar with the Lexx movies and series, is intro'd nicely with an interview at Part 1 - Dark Zone Adventures. Remember how in part 4 I was a little obsessed with all the shadows they created with their lighting and how that played so nicely into His Divine Shadow's theme? This time, if you've got the dvd and can watch this, the shadows and weird lighting with the background sounds brainwash you right onto the Cluster.
Yeah, I got 97 screen shots for this one. Because I love Stanley Tweedle. Because I've felt just as sick to my stomach as that character has, and I'll bet some of you have, too. We may not have been told what he was told, but it may have been terrible for ~us~. And we can see in his face how incredibly awful his day is getting. And we know how it must feel....
As you recall from part 3, Stanley is in very bad trouble and has to report to Correction Center Number 40 after shift change. He's already been demoted to the lowest class (4th) and has accrued 991 demerits. Our scene opens in a hallway with the correction center just ahead. And here our journey with Stanley Tweedle truly begins. That hallway is so cast in shadow that much of Stanley's walk is through dark patches, and ominous shadows are splashed across the floors and walls. As he walks we hear the play of odd chimes and soft gongs (the sounds of time, as it were), footsteps of people crisscrossing without talking, the gears of little mechanical servos buzzing around. It all looks like mechanical interplay, like the whole building is a big wind up mechanism running on a preprogrammed schedule. In the center is a looming desk, and over it an illuminated clock. The scene is clockwork in every sense, like a living piece of artwork. And more subtly you hear the screams of agony coming from somewhere close by, almost like music mixed in with the chimes. There is no escape.
Stan approaches the desk run by a busy looking Class 2 Data Clerk (you can tell by their hats what class they are) and says, "I was supposed to escort a prisoner here, Stanley Tweedle 467329 dash four-three department five-one-one level four." "Yeah?" The clerk just looks at him. Stan starts again- "He is refusing to turn himself in." "Yeah?" "I thought that if you told me what his punishment would be for not showing up, that might help persuade him." "Oh, eh. Give me that number again?" "467329 dash four-three department five-one-one level four?"
Anyone else catch that? One of the numbers is transposed from part 2, when we got this, in case you keep track of bloopers.
"Good morning. Security Guard Class 4, number 47632943, Department 511, Level 4. This is your third wake up call. If you are late, you will receive 7 demerits. You already have 991 demerits."
Ok, so the clerk is typing away, stops, snickers. "If he's not here when we close at watch change, termination order will be issued automatically." Smiles. Seems like a friendly guy, helpful. You can see in Stanley's eyes he wasn't expecting to hear a *termination* order. The clerk goes on- "It's about, uh, 20 minutes." There's that smile again.
"Termination???" This is unbelievable. "That's what it says, termination." Again with that smile. You get the feeling that anything is fine as long as it doesn't affect him. The chimes in the background don't change, but in the mind they start sounding like death knells.
Stanley blurts in shock. "But he's a Designated Data Cooperator, he can't be terminated because he might be needed someday for important information!" He looks and sounds terrified. He was riding along for years on this one fact.
"DDC, eh?" You can tell this man enjoys his job. I couldn't help getting almost frame by frame on his demeanor. "Oh, sorry. That expired five months ago." Stan is stunned to get this news flash.
The clerk keeps going. "Let's see, he's a Level 4, Class 47 Transgression, normally -zzzt- cauterization." Yes, he actually added his own sound effect. Stan looks like he could live with that. "But, he's got 991 demerits and there's a special notation, so it looks like- one to three organs." Delivered with a smile.
"One to three organs???" Stan's shadow lurches up the side of the desk in all directions.
The clerk says, "Yeah. He'll have to donate one to three organs, depending on demand." "Demand?" "Demand for soft organs is red hot right now, so he's pretty well sure to be a triple donor." "But he didn't even do anything, it's just a mixup!" Stan is barely holding back his panic. The background screams become more noticeable here, and the clerk says with his biggest grin yet, "Life's a mixup." Smile, chuckle, laugh. This guy thinks he's a riot. He probably hasn't had a conversation this long in awhile. And he's not getting involved in this one with a 30 foot pole. If he has a clue Stanley is really talking about himself, he's not showing it.
But Stan doesn't crumble. Even in the face of immediate death and dismemberment, his mind is struggling for a way to deal with this, and to keep acting cool about it. "What organs?" "Usual combo...
...eyeball, kidney, testicle." Another big smile.
Stan looks pretty sick.
"If they want bone they'll take an arm or a leg, but we haven't done a limb cut in days." There's that smile again. So reassuring. "I'd suggest he turn himself in. After all, triple organ's better than a termination, huh?" Almost got a wink there.
Stan makes a flimsy attempt to heh heh back and fails. He just looks sick, there is no way out of this. "May His Merciful Shadow fall upon you," he tries to say but winds up in a whisper, and he can't make his arm go through the salute. The clerk is already typing away, but glances up long enough to give Stan another winning smile, a quickie salute, and looks back down again at his monitor as he grunts out a mangled, "Yeah", which feels like 'Yeah that bogus stuff, I hear ya, but I'm busy, see ya.' Stan is just another dead man talking to him in that hollow place, and there is no way he's going to let that dampen his good mood, which is probably even better now that he feels safer on his side of the desk.
Stan turns and exits dejectedly back out of the correction center, same angle, same shadows, same clockwork going on around him, his horrible moment swallowed up in bureaucracy. I think the glowing clock above their heads and the soft chimes still going on in the background along with the muffled screams and the barred shadows along the floor near the sickly dull red lighting makes a perfect picture for what must be going on in Stanley's head and chest about now. He kicks a servo going by, which flies into pieces, and the person nearest him jumps nearly out of his skin as if nothing that violent ever happens in that place. Or perhaps, because they all tiptoe around the constant violence ripping people apart in the next room. Stan walks into the blackness all alone in a giant crowded trap...
I love the acting in this scene. You can find out more about the Correction Center Guard, played by Bill Carr, at Bill Carr - IMDb, and follow him on Twitter. And you can find the 'real' Stanley H. Tweedle at Brian Downey's facebook.
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