Each week, one of Biff Bam Pop’s illustrious writers will delve into one of their favourite things. Perhaps it’s a movie or album they’ve carried with them for years. Maybe it’s something new that moved them and they think might move you too. Each week, a new subject, a new voice writing on…something they love.
The other day someone asked me what my favourite movie is, and without hesitation I said The Crow. First he laughed, there was a moment of awkward silence, and then he goes, “Seriously? I thought it would be, like, The Notebook or something.”
What the hell?
No, sir. Contrary to your expectations upon judging my personality solely on my physical appearance, The Notebook is, like, not my favourite movie. The Crow (based on the graphic novel of the same name by James O’Barr) is my favourite movie. And I’ll tell you why.
For starters, the entire film takes place at night. How badass is that? And not just any night – Devil’s Night. October 30th. The night before Halloween. One year ago (in the film), this was the night before Eric Draven and Shelly Webster were going to be married. One year ago, this was the night they were murdered.
In the film’s present time, Eric (Brandon Lee) returns to the land of the living one year after their deaths, for only one night, and plans to avenge Shelly (Sofia Shinas) and to hold those responsible accountable for their cruel acts against the love of his life. Shelly was not only murdered, she was viciously beaten and raped by a group of thugs who are locally infamous for terrorizing Detroit, where the film is set. Eric hunts them all down, one by one, and the vengeance he delivers is gruesome, cold, and deserved.
I thoroughly enjoy pulpy movie violence, but that’s not what draws me to this film again and again. I don’t even necessarily feel the violence behind Eric’s actions – I feel his love for Shelly. I sense more his fury at her being taken from him, and him from her, than his hatred towards their killers or his joy at torturing them. I sense no joy from Eric Draven at all – only sorrow. And love. The Crow is a love story above all, and that is why this film speaks to me. He was never a violent or cruel man in life, and even in death I don’t believe he is. I think his actions speak more of love than hate.
The Crow is my favourite movie because it’s honest in its description of love and tragedy. It hurts my heart every time. Eric is literally a lost soul, and even in his painful resurrection, in his grief and confusion, all there is to him is Shelly. All that matters during the one night he will ever have on Earth again is taking her 30 hours of pain and delivering it “all at once” to the man who earned it the night he sent his gang to Eric and Shelly’s apartment. Brandon Lee’s portrayal of Eric is phenomenal, and he brought that character to life (or I guess death?) in a way that no remake will be able to replicate. And the soundtrack is the kind of thing you put on repeat for days.
Brandon Lee, as I’m sure most of you know, is no longer with us, as he was accidentally and tragically shot and killed during the filming of The Crow. This definitely adds to the grim vibe and overall sadness behind the film as well. I had a chance to visit Brandon Lee’s gravesite in Seattle this past summer and found the amount of flowers and letters so moving, especially after 20 years. So I dedicate this piece to his memory, and to the dark and beautiful love story he left behind, both on screen and in life.
“For Brandon and Eliza”