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HOLLOW MAN .
Hollow Man is a high tech morality tale. What happens when you are no longer bound by society's rules and conventions? You begin to think you are God.
-Review by Annette Wierstra

H
OLLOW MAN
(2000)

This page was created on August 5, 2000
and was updated on May 29, 2005

Directed by Paul Verhoeven
Writing credits: Gary Scott Thompson (story) and Andrew W. Marlowe (story and screenplay)

Kevin Bacon .... Sebastian Caine
Elisabeth Shue .... Linda McKay
Kim Dickens .... Sarah Kennedy
Josh Brolin .... Matt Kensington
Grunberg .... Carter Abby
Mary Jo Randle .... Janice
Joey Slotnick .... Frank
Steve Altes .... Dad
William Devane .... Dr. Howard Kramer
Rhona Mitra

Produced by Alan Marshall (IV) Marion Rosenberg (executive), Douglas Wick
Original music by Jerry Goldsmith
Cinematography by Jost Vacano
Film Editing by Mark Goldblatt

There's more to fear than you can see.

SYNOPSIS:
The thought of human invisibility has intrigued man for centuries. Repeated in oral tradition and literature since ancient times, the fascinating subject is now being explored by the acclaimed motion picture director Paul Verhoeven in a provocative new suspense thriller, Hollow Man.

In the latest gripping film entertainment to spring from the fertile mind of Verhoeven (Basic Instinct, Starship Troopers, Total Recall, RoboCop), highly gifted scientist Sebastian Caine (Kevin Bacon) develops a serum that induces complete invisibility. His remarkable transformation results in unimaginable power that seems to suffocate his sense of morality and leads to a furious and frightening conclusion.
© 2000 Columbia Pictures

Director Paul Verhoeven says this is "a story about the transference of evil. Kevin's character begins sympathetically; what we want the audience to experience, is how he becomes this soulless, evil being." It is the "descent into evil."

HOLLOW MAN

-Review by Annette Wierstra
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Hollow Man is a high tech morality tale. What happens when you are no longer bound by society's rules and conventions? You begin to think you are God.

Click for larger photoSebastian Caine (Kevin Bacon) is the leader of a top secret US research team. They've cracked the key to invisibility but don't know how to bring all the subjects back into view. The team includes scientists Linda McKay (Elizabeth Shue) and Matt Kensington (Josh Brolin) working with Sebastian to crack the code.

Click for larger photoWhen they do figure it out Sebastian is reluctant to share the knowledge with his superiors as he is anxious to be the first to turn invisible. The movie is clearly set up to be a morality tale. The computer room that overlooks the working lab is jokingly called heaven and Sebastian arrogantly refers to himself as God.

Click for larger photoLinda and Matt agree to secretly let Sebastian be the first to be invisible. When the reversal to visibility fails, Sebastian begins his descent into evil. The stripping away of layers of skin and tissue (an impressive special effect) symbolizes the stripping away the layers of Sebastian's morality. A man, already with a lust for power is easily intoxicated with his newfound gift. "It's amazing what you can do when you don't have to look at yourself in the mirror anymore," he says.

Click for larger photoThe lack of public scrutiny enables Sebastian to lose his conscience. The rules of society and any sense of human decency are gone. It starts slowly, with little practical jokes, then moves to more serious games like molesting the breasts of a sleeping co-worker and sneaking out of the compound. But it suddenly escalates to rape and finally murder.

Click for larger photoSebastian's story is not new. The idea of invisibility has been explored in literature before and the morality tale is even older. Instead of relying and trusting on an all-powerful God, Sebastian tries to become one. While he always semi-joked about being God before, Sebastian begins to feel he is truly god-like. He has the power to manipulate and control. This is his downfall. He can't be the omniscient ruler - he can't even control the lab. Human beings are incapable of wielding that kind of power.

Click for largerWhile it works as a morality tale, the plot would have been far more interesting if Sebastian wasn't locked up in the lab for most of the movie and his loss of morality was more closely examined. Sebastian could have been more of an Everyman. Because he is already a cold and heartless person as a visible person it is easy for the viewer to detach himself from the character. If Sebastian had been a more balanced person in the beginning the viewers could imagine the same descent into evil for themselves, instead of feeling morally superior to Sebastian.

David Bruce
ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS
The use of mirrors, monitors and voyeurism are keys to some disturbing insights into our voyeuristic culture.
- by David Bruce
Web Master HollywoodJesus.com
Click for largerREFLECTIONS, MIRRORS, MONITORS, AND WINDOWS
When viewing this film notice how much of the film is voyeuristic. Mirrors are used to reflect truth. Monitors and windows are voyeuristic.
Click for largerBARS SERVE THE SAME VOYEURISTIC PURPOSE.
In this scene Caine looks through the bars of the cage of an invisible gorilla and wonders what it would be like to be invisible
Click for largerMIRRORS REFLECT TRUTH.
Caine views himself in a mirror and wonders what would it be like not to see one's reflection. -Hiding truth.
Click for largerWITHOUT PERSONAL REFLECTION, EVIL TAKES HOLD.
Caine is now invisible. His image is reflected only because he slashed water onto his face. Now, he does not have to face himself or his evil.
Click for largerWORKING HARD WITH DIVERSIONS ON THE SIDE.
Early in the film we see Caine pulled away from his work to spy on his neighbor through his window as she removes her clothes.
Click for largerDIVERSIONS SOON BECOME CONTROLLING FACTORS.
Caine's unchecked voyeuristic diversions are allowed to become central events. Note the 'bars'. Again Caine wants to be on the other side.
Click for largerTHE WOMAN HE SPIED ON BECOMES HIS VICTIM.
Being invisible Caine crosses the line from voyeurism to criminal participation. In this scene, Caine enters the woman's apartment, while she is brushing her hair in the mirror. He flips the mirror (to prevent the reflection of truth) and rapes his victim. This reminded me of the "wet T shirt" voyeurism in NY's Central Park during June of 2000, which turned into criminal molestation of the women. The police did nothing because they thought this sort of behavior was part of Puerto Rican macho culture (shame on the police). Despite the pleadings of the women who were having their clothes ripped off, police allowed the evil to happen. Were the police being voyeuristic? What is going on in our culture? I think Hollow Man reflects a horrifying truth.
Click for largerWE BECOME THE RAPIST.
In the rape scene of Linda McKay the camera takes the point-of-view of the rapist, making the audience the attacker. Was the director trying to underscore the evil in all of us? Very disconcerting. Foster awakens just in time. It is only a dream. I wondered however, was the audience disappointed that the tearing off of clothes and the rape did not completely happen? What was going on in the minds of many in the audience? Was the audience, in some ways, like the NY Central Park police -participating in the molestation of women?
Click for largerEVIL MUST MEET A FIERY END.
According to scripture, fire will purge the universe of evil and evildoers. And just so, Caine and his evil meet a fiery death in the film's final moments. But, aren't we all evil, to some degree, as well? What end do we deserve?
 

Bulletin Board:

INVISIBILITY
Date: Wed, 4 Oct 2000
From: Hitendra Rao

The idea of being invisible so illustrates the human desire to be free of the consequences of action . It is evidenced daily on the net with people finding themselves "virtually" Invisible and playing out the hidden fantasies of their mind.with people able to switch off the evidences of their roles and actions as easily as getting disconnected/going offline.You would not find the evidence of one act harder to eliminate than another no matter what the degree of depravity of thought and even a casual look willl convince that every degree of depravity is indulged in. Always a bit of comfort for some of us that "its not the real thing".a mere tickling of ones senses or ...consciences? The thing which really gets me is are the consequences of this as ephemeral as the experience itself? What is the physical distance between thought and action? God help us from the depravity and decietfullness of sin. thank you for a very informative review
From The Desk of Hitendra Rao.

WHAT KIND OF CHRISTIAN IS DAVID BRUCE
Subject: Hollow Man Review
Date: Wed, 13 Sep 2000
From: conr

My comments on the Hollow Man review: You mentioned the NYC Puerto Rican pride incident when you were writing about voyeurism in modern culture. How dare you shame police when you know who the true criminals were in that incident. The evidence that police did not react quickly enough in this situation is debatable, the evidence that many Puerto Ricans took part in this horrible act is not. How dare you accuse the NYC police of taking part in molestation of women. How dare you judge one group with no evidence and say nothing about a group who is obviously at fault. What kind of Christian are you?

My response: The victims reported that the police turned a blind eye. It got good news coverage. Are you turning a blind eye to the police? My point isn't the police, rather it is the culture in general.

SEBASTIAN AND DAVID
Subject: Hollow Man
Date: Thu, 07 Sep 2000
From: Jonathan W. Smith

As I watched this movie and as I read your review. I though the perfect biblical story ws that of David an d Bathsheba. As a King David was almost "invisible". Fortunately David did not have the same ending as Sebastian. Is this where Grace comes in? David repented. Sebastian did not. David still suffered the consequences of his actions. Might use some clips from this for sermon illustrations.
Jonathan W. Smith
Trinity United Methodist, Amherst, NY
Trinityumc@pcom.net


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