Escape From New York (Is Amazing)

I think I am beginning to notice a trend on this website and also within my own life.  The trend of which I speak is directly responsible for nearly everything I write on this site as well as a large portion of my free-time activities.  

The trend has a few fundamental steps.

Step 1 -  Adam and I record a Lost in Criterion podcast

Step 2 - During the downtime in recording, we discuss other media we have been consuming recently.

Step 3 - Adam suggests that I might like some piece of media (occasionally related to the Lost in Criterion film).

Step 4 - I listen to Adam's suggestion and file it away for further consideration.

Step 5 - I get bored on a Saturday evening after the rest of my family is asleep.

Step 6 - I feel a profound dissatisfaction with the media suggestions presented by the various services to which I subscribe.

Step 7 - One of Adam's suggestions (usually from a a few weeks prior) surfaces with the grace and splendor of a Blue Whale emerging for fresh air. 

Step 8 - I watch.

Step 9 - I am amazed.

Step 10 - I write about the media on  the blog.

Now that you know a little more about the process involved in making one of these post come into existence, let's talk about Escape from New York.


After recording a Lost in Criterion episode about Lars von Trier's The Element of Crime, Adam suggested that I might also enjoy Escape From New York. At the time, I was somewhat skeptical.  I knew of the movie and had seen it at various movie rental shops throughout my life and never given it much thought.  It had never been recommended to me or even mentioned. As such, I unfairly assumed that it was a movie worthy of little note. 

I was wrong.

On a Saturday night a few weeks ago, I found myself awake and a little bored (see Step 5). I decided that nothing on my various services really jumped out at me. At that moment, the memory of Escape From New York broke the surface and made itself known to me.

With nothing left to lose, I elected to watch the movie and see how things would go. This was a life-changing moment for me.  Escape From New York is an incredible movie and anyone who hasn't seen it (I know you're out there.) should do so immediately.  

So, why do I like this movie?  The answer is two-fold; story and atmosphere.  

I won't go into the details of the story too much for fear of spoiling it for anyone who hasn't seen the movie.  Suffice it to say that the story is a little off the wall and requires you to accept a wagon-load of suppositions and fanciful notions about the societal implications of the Cold War escalating into World War 3.  Namely, that the crime rate would rise by 400% and the obvious solution to the problem would be turning New York into a penal colony (rather than inventing RoboCops).  Once you get over these hurdles, the story ludicrous but pretty straightforward. 

On the other hand, the atmosphere of the film is anything but straightforward. The film creates a mood and environment the likes of which I am not accustomed to in a film.  The only proper comparison I can come up with is Alien. I know this seems like a rather dunderheaded thing to say but hear me out. While I admit these two films have little in common on the surface, I would say that, philosophically, they are two peas in a pod.  Both of these movies commit to their premise, world and atmosphere in an uncanny way.  They take the universe they build to the absolute maximum.  Personally, I see Alien as a window into primal fear and survival instincts while Escape From New York is more of a commentary on the nature of a society spinning out of control and finding oneself in the madness,  Although the two movies are entirely disparate, they take those two concepts and run with them.  For the duration of both movies, the universe of the film is the only universe that exists. Regardless of how insane that universe may subjectively be.  

By taking it's mood and it's environment as far as it does, Escape From New York creates a world that one's mind can continue to live and flourish in long after the film has finished rolling.  I am a fan of any movie that creates this special place in my mind.  As such, I have to say that Escape From New York is probably one of the best films I've seen in a long time and will be watched many more times with glee.

Please watch it and experience the magic for yourself.