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#184. Safety

The world is a very unsafe place. What’s perhaps the most terrifying about this is that more than half of the danger we encounter on a daily basis is completely out of our control. From natural disasters, to wild animal attacks, to freak accidents, there are a plethora of things that could kill us at any moment, and we would have no power to change these things. However, as technology advances, we can start predicting these incidents, as well as reducing any possible harm that could come to us. In order to survive as a species, we must hold to the tenets of safety. As a civilization, we can do a lot of very dangerous things, but with safety we can experience these extremes and live to tell the tale. Of course, perhaps safety has just perpetuated stupidity. This week’s two films look at safety in a few different ways.

Safety Last!Safety Last!
Year: 1923
Rating: Not Rated
Length: 70 minutes / 1.17 hours

Prevention is the key to remaining safe. If you can prevent injury or death, you can easily remain safe. This is why the motto of many dangerous areas is “Safety First!” However, when film is introduced to a situation, suddenly it shifts to “Safety Last!” As seen by other silent comedians of the time, slapstick comedy was a very influential genre made popular in the 1920’s. With some camera trickery, maneuvers that would normally be seen as dangerous are actually quite safe to perform. That being said, these masters of slapstick were often plagued with real injuries while performing these stunts. Buster Keaton broke quite a few bones. Harold Lloyd actually blew off a few fingers while shooting some promotional material for an earlier movie, making the title of this film all the more apt.

Daredevil stunts are often made more suspenseful for their lack of safety. This is why people will often flock to watch these feats of danger: there’s a chance that the daredevil might fail. Harold Lloyd (as himself) has moved to the big city and is renting a room with his friend, “Limpy” Bill (Bill Strother), a construction worker who finds he has a knack climbing buildings. Harold uses this knowledge to plan an event at the department store where he works. If the event brings in more customers, Harold receives a bonus of $1,000. Unfortunately, the reason Bill needed to climb a building in the first place was because he was being chased by a policeman. As a result, Harold must start climbing the building, in the hopes that he can switch with Bill, who will complete the climb. That is, if Bill can shake the policeman who has started chasing him in the building Harold is currently climbing. Will everyone be safe?

Safety Not GuaranteedSafety Not Guaranteed
Year: 2012
Rating: R
Length: 86 minutes / 1.43 hours

Every action we perform has an element of risk to it. Driving to work has more risk than just sitting at work, but they both have some amount of risk. Risk can be mitigated by introducing safety factors. For instance, the risk of falling from a large height is mitigated by a safety harness that tethers you to that height. Our safety is always going to be at risk, due to the aforementioned factors that are out of our control. Even if we can predict that there will be a risk that something could go wrong, there are just too many things that we cannot predict in life. These risks increase when we pioneer new frontiers. If we don’t know what could harm us, we can’t adequately mitigate the risk. In these instances, every precaution is taken to reduce risk and increase safety. Such a new frontier that would have many risks would be that of time travel.

“Wanted: Somebody to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. P.O. Box 91 Ocean View, WA 99393. You’ll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. Safety not guaranteed. I have only done this once before.”

This advertisement in a Washington newspaper piques the interest of Jeff Schwensen (Jake Johnson), a writer at Seattle Magazine. He uses this ad to convince his supervisor to send him to Ocean View to follow up on the story. In reality, he’s just trying to get home to reconnect with an old love. Darius Britt (Aubrey Plaza), one of the interns assigned to the story, manages to actually track down the person responsible for the classified ad. As she pretends to go along with his request, she learns the mission is to go back in time to prevent the death of his old girlfriend. When they learn she’s still alive, he knows his plan works, but now he wants to go back for Darius, and not the ex-girlfriend.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 safety stories

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One response to “#184. Safety

  1. Pingback: End of Act Four | Cinema Connections

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