Viewer – Zodiac

Honestly, I was not expecting to like this movie. However, I was pleasantly surprised and enjoyed the movie (even though there was no finality to the case, which can be irritating), and also the length of the movie which I initially dreaded, seemed to go by fairly quickly. The nostalgia of the movie crafted by the mise-en-scène of the film was enticing and it was heightened by the computer effects that were used to create a realism. The film felt authentic in some aspects but then intertwined with a thriller aspect that kept me on the edge of my seat. The movie, in my opinion moved beyond just a commentary on a long ongoing murder investigation, which is what it might have been, to something more interesting because of many varying cinematic techniques. There were shifts in the mood of the film by at the beginning being an almost horror thriller sequence and then changing to an investigation  following the various characters and their relations/connections and infatuations with solving the case. I liked how there were many serious parts where the investigation was in full swing along with the immersive feel of danger as the Zodiac killer was shown and these were paired with quippy remarks made by many of the characters (especially about Robert and his sometimes strange mannerisms). These brief moments of humor allowed a breather from what would’ve been a long cumbersome and intense movie. Some of my favorite parts was when Robert was investigating for his book and he kept sidestepping

and finding loopholes by saying he wasn’t a writer but a cartoonist, and how these were always followed by things like “I wouldn’t tell you to talk to” or “If you wanted to be creative”. (Or even the time when Paul makes fun of Robert’s drink! Things like this were not needed for the movie to move forward, however, the movie was more intriguing and relatable  because there were  included). These created a more human experience because it showed that the officers wanted to bring the killer to justice and they believed it could be done, even with Robert’s roundabout way of writing a book.

At many points all I could think of was this is was a strange vintage Avengers mystery with Tony Stark and Bruce Banner, which for me made the movie more appealing because of the familiarity of the actors. These two men were able to move beyond the characters’ personas they have built for the superhero movies. On that note, I was amazed by how they aged the actors just slightly. There was a strange evolution of the characters (especially  Robert and Paul) as they delved deeper into the case and drifted to the verge (if not going over the edge) of being obsessed. As the movie continues and the years passed by hair became grayer, the bags under many their eyes became more pronounced, and their clothes evolved. I loved how the costuming was slightly and yet visibility changing as the years passed. These subtle hints to the passage of time helped to keep the order of events and also create a realistic world. Also, even the insert texts (the screen shot above left shows the type writer font that was present throughout out the movie) that tell the audience the date/time have a font that is filled to the style of the movie and couple well with the 60s/70s vibe that is thoroughly highlighted throughout the movie. Overall I LOVED how there seemed to be meticulous attention to  detail with all the costumes, all the sets and probs, and especially the paper props from the killer himself (example below of one of the notes from the movie). When there is as much focus on objects like these I personally appreciate the movie more and become more involved in the world that they have carefully taken the time to build.

In the film we saw how the personal  lives of like Robert Graysmith and Paul Avery deteriorated  as they became obsessed with solving the mystery of who the Zodiac killer was. What effect do you think the Zodiac killer had on the families of the investigators? Do you think it was worth it for them to spend that much time investigating? (Especially since they even commented on how there were countless other murders  and investigations happening at the time, which was more impactful than the Zodiac). What is your response to who was the killer, who should we believe? How would this movie have been without the small bits of humor? Would it have been as good and would you have enjoyed it still? There were many times were, because of the lack in technology and ability to connect between stations, information went missing/was not relayed – how do you think this case would have been handled in present day? Would it have been solved? Or would there still be issues of an overload of facts and information?

  1. I like to think that in today’s world, this case would have been solved. Not only could fast communication and computers have helped the various police departments stay organized, but the advent of DNA technology would have helped a lot. Even still, in today’s world this case would still face an overload information and be accompanied by an even larger media frenzy. As far as who the killer was, I think there was an interesting conflict between facts/handwriting/fingerprints vs. intuition/coincidences/circumstances. An official killer couldn’t be named because they couldn’t find fingerprints or match handwriting samples, but I’m sure evidence was still mishandled by police, especially since this case spans many years. Therefore, it seems like official “facts” are not as important in this case as intuition, since we can’t exactly rely on facts. Based on the amount of circumstantial evidence, I think it was probably Arthur Leigh Allen. But I think it’s also possible that it was Rick Marshall and his movie theater friend working together. Most likely, it was multiple people working together to confuse police. All in all, I really enjoyed the movie and it’s suspense and humor as well!

  2. I really like your points about how authentic the film feels. I think this is an interesting aspect of the film to consider as we look at how influenced it is by the digital. What is authenticity? Can something that has been digitally manipulated at points digitally crafted be considered a true representation of truth? Or is the digital truly the best way to represent the past, when we the best we can do in the present is already to have people pretend to represent the people and events which once occurred.

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