welp… A whole damn zine about the feature film NOPE.
NOPE is my favorite movie by Jordan Peele. I am biased, because it feels as though the movie was made specifically for me; the fascination with amusement towns, obsession with aliens, the West, its sense of humor. The performances of the actors is fantastic, and the layered symbolism rewards persistent chewing.
Much ink and much of Mr. Peele’s breath has been spent discussing “the spectacle,” a main theme if there ever was one. “All the themes and characters in the movie represent or interact with the media in some way,” whether that be the media swooping in on tragedy, glory seeking selfie stick idiots, or “Hollywood, the selling of dreams” of which Peele himself is a member. “Any time that you’re making money off of the human need to see something crazy, that to me is what I call spectaclization. I’m a guilty party.”
JP specifically wanted to make his own, make “something that people are going to have to see” in theatres. Creatively he wrote and generated the film from quarantine during COVID19, and wanted to make something with big skies, that had to be seen on the big screen. He was “fighting for cinema, for the theatrical experience.” It’s not primarily or secondarily a proper ‘Western’ film, but the setting in the American West is the polar opposite of my quarantine life; holed up in a one bedroom apartment, staring top down into Animal Crossing or Stardew Valley on my Nintendo Switch, skyless safe realms under my complete control. Peele wanted to make something where people looked up, into an endless sky, or into the mouth of a monster about to consume you, make you a helpless witness to something that cannot be stopped.
Nope defies genre conventions. Peele says he wanted to make an entry in the books of the “great American Flying Saucer movie”. He calls it an “Adventure” movie, but genres are hard when he dedicates his work to blurring genres, making moves in his artistic work to question boundaries, and destroying “the boxes that this country puts on people of color.” “It is about digging into those boxes to shed them, to break out of them… If i see a box, I’m going to break it.” He hopes the movie “honors horror, I hope it’s scary enough to make people talk about Nope. At the same time I want people to feel some other things aside fear as well.”
The movie isn’t as explicitly about the topic of race as in his other movies, but, he says, “I feel like it’s impossible to make a movie with people of color in it and have it not be about race…you can’t have black people be in a flying saucer film and have it be the same experience. There’s a different relationship.” Such was the genesis of the title of the film; what he says is the “black response” to horror movie hypothetical situations—nope-ing the fuck out of there.
“If I had too clear of an idea of what i wanted them to think about, I wouldn’t be having the conversation with the audience” “I feel like with nope, we described a feeling… brought a sense of magic and adventure from a very dark place and a very dark time. I hope that they are just fulfilled and glad that they went out to see it.”
And again, he means specifically out, to the theatres. Nope is the first horror movie to be shot on IMAX cameras and film. It is truly intended for the cathedral of the silver screen. I’m glad I caught it in theatres. Ten friends all pitched in money to rent out a whole theater for $100 bucks to see it; it was cheaper than paying full price, and safer and socially distant. We may never get that experience again. We will still have movie theaters, but movie watching continues to fundamentally change. A few scant drive-ins survive. People watch feature films on phones. Seeing a big picture in a big theater is to experience film in a way that may not exist by the end of our lifetime. I still miss the drive-ins. The medium of the movie affects your viewing, your expectations. The “drive-in movie” has a flavor profile different than the “acadamy award netflix movie”. We lose more than the medium by losing VHS. Peele doesn’t want the big screen to disappear, and Nope came out in a time its future was uncertain.
2022 I obtained all quotes from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-KJ-BkuTJE “Jordan Peele Discusses Ideation Of New Horror Film “Nope”“