The Identity of the Zodiac Killer

The principle suspect in both the book Zodiac and its film adaptation of the same name, Zodiac (2007 Fincher), Arthur Leigh Allen, was heavily implicated as the Zodiac Killer. The film’s closing credits make note that Allen may have been exonerated by a partial DNA mismatch. I’ve linked a story from the San Francisco Weekly disputing this story.

http://www.sfweekly.com/news/yesterdays-crimes-news/yesterdays-crimes-the-zodiac-killer-dna-profile-that-never-was/

It is also worth noting that the handwriting matches which helped stop the investigation into Allen, courts of law have been mixed as to whether handwriting analysis can be considered as substantial evidence. I’ve linked an interesting article discussing this.

https://science.howstuffworks.com/handwriting-analysis2.htm

I’ve embedded a series of interviews concerning him from the Special Edition of the film Zodiac. As a forewarning, I found this a bit disturbing. The descriptions are at times graphic.

 

In Defense of Arthur Leigh Allen, there is no clear evidence he is guilty. The most important thing to remember when discussing whether Arthur Leigh Allen is that all evidence against him is purely circumstantial.

I’ve linked to stories with several other potential suspects:

Earl Van Best, Jr.: http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2014/05/zodiac-killer-earl-van-best-mugshot.html

George Russell Tucker: https://blog.sfgate.com/crime/2012/05/14/ex-gumshoes-zodiac-book-fingers-solano-county-man/

Louis Joseph Meyers: http://abc7news.com/archive/9441384/

For even more, visit: http://zodiackiller.com/index.htm

All-in-all, I doubt the Zodiac killings will ever be solved definitively. I’ve attached a sketch artist’s sketch of the Zodiac Killer and a picture of Arthur Leigh Allen to help you draw your own conclusions.

To help you draw better conclusions, I’ve attached compelling evidence that Ted Cruz is the Zodiac Killer.

As a final note, the misspellings and strange grammar in the Zodiac’s cryptogram are not unusual as is shown by the Kryptos Sculpture at the CIA’s headquarters. https://www.cia.gov/about-cia/headquarters-tour/kryptos

Digital Realism in a Modern World

Film has, from its outset, included the manipulation of the captured image.  Extensive techniques for manipulating the visual elements of a frame have been a continually evolving and ever-present aspect of cinematography.  The digital image has brought about the introduction of image manipulation rather than image creation.  Where a filmmaker would have previously been stuck with the elements made present in a shot as it was taken, digital imaging offers total control and manipulation of what is shown even after it is captured.  Prior to digital imaging, there were tricks implemented to alter the images shown, but these tricks carried with them a loss of quality and significant amount of labor to achieve.  The author points out that though many argue for the more honest and accurate nature of film’s depiction of reality, there has always been an inherent loss in the transition of the originally captured image due to the internegative media that is used to mass-produce film for theaters.  The author further illustrates points for digital cinematography as an opportunity for a filmmaker’s artistic preference to be given free reign.  With digital images, components can be added to the frame, details can be selectively enhanced or removed, the nature of the shot can be largely redeveloped with ease.  Interestingly, as film has transitioned towards digital imaging, the inherent “perfection” of a digitally generated image has frequently been manipulated to maintain the viewer’s expectation of how a movie should look.  The author references a quote from Wall-E’s director, Andrew Stanton, where he says “’Life is nothing but imperfection and the computer likes perfection, so we spent probably 90% of our time putting in all of the imperfections.’”  As the film industry transitions to a heavily digital age, the balance between the capturing and manipulation of reality remains an ongoing conversation between filmmakers and audiences about the nature of what we will choose to find believable.

The Ending of Do the Right Thing

Do the Right Thing was very inconclusive, which I believe is very reminiscent of solving the racial crisis of today. Many would like to believe that racism no longer exists or is a problem, yet there are scenes from Do the Right Thing  that unfortunately do not look that different from today’s reality. Police brutality against African Americans is active and many people have turned to violence to fight back.

The two quotes at the end of the film suggested two very different approaches to violence and reflected the ideas of some of the characters in the film. Martin Luther King is quoted in support of peace and Malcom X is quoted suggesting that violence can be self-defense and an intelligent answer at times. After the quotes are presented, there is an image of Martin Luther King and Malcom X together, the same one Smiley was trying to sell on the streets.

The contradictory quotes with the visual of the two men pictured together is confusing for a reason. Lee does this to reflect the reality of racial tensions. There is no clear solution. One can not stand by and do nothing but fighting back with violence is also not the answer. These are the two major ideologies presented in the film and ones that it appears the characters try to follow to some degree. The mayor advocates peace and tries to break up violence when it occurs, however it doesn’t change anything. When characters use violence, Radio Raheem ends up dead. The mayor tells Mookie to “do the right thing”, but it seems that no one really knows what the right thing is. Different people have different ideas of what is “right”, therefore no extreme end of the spectrum will ever be the right thing. Each ideology has its own faults. Violence, chaos, and racism seem to prevail regardless of which one is practiced.

This movie really delivered for me on a moral and emotional level, perhaps more so than any film we have watched so far in this class. Throughout the film, I found myself disgusted with racist remarks and slights made by certain characters, but also incredibly disappointed by the turn to violence that many other characters took. Honestly, I never saw a clear solution and that’s such a huge problem that we face today. What can we do? When people are scared of the people that are supposed to protect us and are turning against each other, there is no easy answer. However, we must think about this issue thoughtfully, and this is one of the many important things that Do the Right Thing challenges us to do. 

Scorpio Rising: A Prelude to the Music Video

Scorpio Rising is a 1963 experimental film staring Bruce Byron as Scorpio, who appears to be the leader of a Nazi-like biker gang.

One of the things I found noteworthy while watching this film is how it appears to be a prelude to music videos. There are various songs dispersed throughout the film that correspond to the images on the screen. To me, the songs cut up the film and tell separate, yet interconnected stories and touch on different themes, whether it be longing, love, rejection, rebellion, or torture. To the best of my knowledge, music videos weren’t big until the 80s, so to see this style in a film from the 60s was very interesting. It really shows how elements of past film culture can be incorporated into modern day film and art. I have included a clip that shows this below, where some of the “Jesus imagery” begins in the film. You can see that as the song talks about “the way he shuffles his feet” and “how he goes walking by”, we see the biker’s feet moving along with crosscutting to sequences that feature Jesus walking. There are many connections between the words of the  song and the images on screen that give it a music video feel.

Below, I have linked an article from the website “Senses of Cinema”, which touches on the music video aspect of Scorpio Rising and also does a great job of analyzing the film in more depth. I think it’s worth a read as it analyzes the film without being too subjective, allowing the viewer to still draw their own conclusions.

Article 1 “Senses of Cinema”: http://sensesofcinema.com/2015/cteq/scorpio-rising/

I also found another article that I think is really helpful in dissecting the film, linked here: https://walkerart.org/magazine/a-listeners-guide-to-kenneth-angers-scorpio-rising.  It features each of the songs used in the film and goes over some common themes of the songs and how they were relevant to the film. The author of the article also points out that all of the songs in the film are love songs. I definitely noticed this about the film, but didn’t realize that EVERY one of the songs was a love song. The use of love songs over imagery of hate, rebellion, and crime is a very ironic parallel and it almost makes the events taking place on screen seem less severe. For example, at one point in the film, there is a lot of Nazi imagery, but playing along with the imagery is a song about love. What do you make of this combination?