Wednesday, December 3, 2008

“They’re taking our children away”

So, I had mentioned in my previous post that while watching The Sweet Hereafter I noticed a bizarre connection between that movie and the song "They Don't Want Your Corn, They Want Your Kids" by Liars. Well, I said I'd post another entry about it, and here it is.

Some of the things I am going to cover regarding the movie involve some plot points that may not ruin the movie per se, but will definitely give some stuff away. So consider this your spoiler alert. If you're interested in watching The Sweet Hereafter (which I would recommend), I might hold off on reading this.

***Spoilers Start***

As I was watching the movie, I kept hearing bits of dialogue that sounded vaguely familiar. By about the third time this happened, I realized that all these lines in the movie were also lyrics in the aforementioned Liars song "They Don't Want Your Corn, They Want Your Kids". After I realized this, I picked up on a few more lines of dialogue that are also lyrics. Most of the time, the lyrics aren't exact quotes from the movie, but are practically identical. Here is an example:

In one scene, Sarah Polley's character is reading "The Pied Piper" by Robert Browning to two children, and this becomes a reoccurring theme throughout the movie, her character providing voiceover in multiple scenes as she continues to read the poem. The poem includes the lines:

Fathers, mothers, uncles, cousins

Cocking tails and pricking whiskers

Families by tens and dozens

Brothers, sisters, husbands, wives

Followed the Piper for their lives

This is actually what brought this to my attention. The Liars song contains the lines:

Fathers, mothers, uncles, cousins

Families by tens and dozens

Brothers, sisters, husbands, wives

All of them fighting for their lives

Again, not an exact quote, but pretty close (actually, I'm not entirely sure about that last line, but it's close enough). Now, I realize that it seems perfectly reasonable that Liars took their lyrics from the original Browning poem rather than the movie. Which is more or less what I thought, but it kept happening. Here is another example. The character of Mitchell Stevens is talking on the phone to his runaway drug addicted daughter, Zoe. They have the following exchange:

Mitchell: Tell me your news, Zoe.

Zoe: OK. Yesterday I went to sell my blood. I'm in this fucking city, and I'm selling my blood.

Mitchell: That's not news, Zoe.

Zoe: No, but this is. They wouldn't take my blood. Do you know what that means, Daddy? Does it register? I tested positive. Welcome to hard times, Daddy.

Mitchell: What do you want me to do, Zoe? I'll do whatever you want.

Zoe: I need money.

Mitchell: What for?

Zoe: No, you cannot ask me that! Not anymore! You asked me what I wanted, not what I wanted it for. I want money.

Mitchell: Do you have a blood test?

Zoe: You don't believe me? You don't fucking believe me?! I like it when you don't believe me. It's better that you don't believe me, but have to act like you do.

[Both are quiet]

Zoe: I can hear you breathing

Mitchell: I can hear you breathing, too.

[Zoe hangs up phone, Mitchell continues to whisper into the now dead line]

Mitchell: I love you, Zoe. I'll take care of you. I'll take care of you.

Pretty intense, right? Well here are the lines from "They Don't Want Your Corn, They Want Your Kids" sung in a back-and-forth call-and-response style:

Mama, I'm selling my blood

Welcome to hard times

Daddy, I can hear you breathing

I'll take care of you

I'll take care of you

And finally, one last example that I noticed. When Mitchell is trying to convince one of the parents to join the lawsuit, and the parent refuses, Mitchell explains that his daughter is a drug addict. That everyone is losing their children, if it isn't bus accidents, it's drugs. If it isn't drugs, it's any number of other horrible things that destroy our children's lives. He concludes by saying:

Something's happening that's taking our children away.

In the song, the four lines quoted above ("Mama, I'm selling my blood…") are followed with the repeated phrase:

They're taking our children away

I'll take care of you

They're taking our children away

***Spoilers End***

I want to make it clear, it's not like the entire song is somehow lifted from the movie. There are just some lyrics that are obviously inspired by (or taken from) the movie. More than anything, this just seemed extremely bizarre. Buried in the middle of a dense and strange concept album about German witch folklore is a song seemingly inspired by an independent Canadian film from 1997 (that has absolutely nothing to do with witches, mind you). I've just been trying to wrap my mind about what a strange and totally unexpected pairing this is.

Regardless, both the song and movie are amazing. I'd highly recommend seeing The Sweet Hereafter (check out my entry about it to see if it sounds up your alley). I also absolutely love the song "They Don't Want Your Corn, They Want Your Kids." In fact, I love everything Liars do, and They Were Wrong, So We Drowned is definitely my favorite album. It's a strange, dense, ugly album, so it's not for everyone. But it's one of my favorites.

[Note: I totally had the quotes formatting really nicely in Word, then the formatting got all screwed up when I uploaded the post. Sorry about that.]

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