Available since August 10th 2022 on the black screens in France, Jordan Peele’s third movie, Nope, is my newest visual crush. The movie, as strange and beautiful as it is, stands out from the filmmaker’s two first movies. And as soon as the movie ended, I got very enthusiastic about writing about it and trying to understand the different meanings and references.
THE Further away IT HAPPENS THE LESS LEGITIMATE IT WILL be
As in every Jordan Peele movies, Nope happens, away from the city and concentrated urban areas such as Los Angeles or other metropoles. It takes place in a small Californian city called Agua Dulce and precisely at the Haywood‘s family ranch. It’s a common thing for Jordan Peele‘s movies to take place where the magic and the impossible can happened. It is also true for M. Night Shyamalan‘s productions for example. Those distant locations are commonly culturally, economically and socially cut from « the society » and in the imaginary, more exposed to strange and spectacular phenomenons. In Nope, the Haywood ranch is threatened by this alien entity whose goals and origin remain unknown in the end. Maybe we can try to solve it out together. My personal interpretation is that the arrival of this extraterrestrial menace represents how some black or non white communities who live away from their cities are therefore cut from their activity and « benefits » and how they have tried to survived for centuries in the US. The spaceship, this alien, this otherness that comes to take everything the Haywoods have worked for, can be seen as the embodiement of the government or another too powerful external force switching your life in one day. And as it is in real life, those odd events happening far from civilization are often too big or too incredible to be believed. Nope highlights the neglected stories of small or rural communities. It does so with a black family trying to survive and preserve a family heritage, both culturally and physically. They have to get the media, the politics or even the world to discover them in order to exist and legitimate their stories and traumas. In the movie, this search for proof and legitimation is symbolized by the vision, the ability to show and to see : with the eyes, cameras or photographs. The mouth and oral discourses are not enough, what will change people’s minds is the possibility to observe.
OTHERNESS IS as FAR AS IT IS NEAR
Another question raised in the movie is what has triggered this supernatural entity : seeing it and admitting its existence. Seeing beyond the clouds, the common trope that is presented to our eyes everyday in the sky and our environment and question what we see and know that it can put us in danger. When we begin to see and acknowledge the danger, it starts to materialize and exist like an auto prophetic system. We can then get ready for what will come from being conscious and knowing.
What I have found refreshing about Nope is the realistic manifestation of this otherness or alterity. It is in fact closer than we thought and constant. Neither the space, the ocean or the galaxy represent danger. The invisible threat is near, around and even in us. The Ricky Jupe Park story is really interesting. Besides the E.T reference, the mogul has clearly been traumatized and has tried to transform it into a business. The character has come in contact with alterities all his life and thought he had domesticated them, but he will eventually be killed by one. In Nope, this ship haunting the county is disguised as a cloud, one of the most loved and appreciated climatic object by us humans. As it goes in Nope, how those non earthy beings and things that we think do not interact with us are actually embedded in our daily life. Nope has managed to give credibility to this trope of otherness as a thing that can’t coexist with us or adapt to our environment. Another force of the movie is its credibility to depict the ship and its force. We all know those famous acrobatic and aerial scenes that science fiction movies have where the aliens came so quickly, often night, broadcasting their « super » light force aspiring humans and animals, without disturbing the activities around. What I like about the movie is the kidnappings and disappearances are loud and clear. The ship is not here to be gentle or silent, it wants us to hear and see its presence and power. And the way it takes away humans or animals is very realistic : the wind, the noise of navigation in the sky and then the retreat.
AND OF COURSE THE EXCEPTIONAL FILMMAKING
How could a Jordan Peele movie disappoint us visually ? I think it’s impossible. Nope is amazingly breathtaking from the balance of colors to the lightings. As we can see in the movie, the casting is really ethnically diverse and the set of colors and lights gives them justice : the appreciation of each skin tone in the day or even in the dark, the visual settings are made correctly. I have a preference for the night scenes by the ranch with Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer, they look almost godly as the cast from Get Out (2017) and Us (2019) did, maybe the director’s speciality. Yes, Nope is once again a brillant and exceptional picture. It juggles between outdoors and indoors scenes that are almost spectacular and unique on their own.
Nope is beyond the classic horror production : it combines multiple genres, between the horror, western, science fiction, the apocalyptic and a dash of comedy. But even in the extraordinary, the movie is still connected to reality. It’s tangible and genuine as it could have happen to us.
I hope that you have seen the movie or you will, I highly recommend it. And if you have read until there, I thank you and I guess that you have enjoyed this article. Don’t hesitate to read the previous ones and subscribe to read the ones coming.
Follow me on Instagram : pointzeroworld – POINT ZERO WORLD