What Is The Significance Of The Motorcycle Man Inspecting The Woman
Following the rose scene, the next man The Woman processes keeps telling her she has beautiful eyes, that theres something special about them.
Then we go to the Motorcycle Man inspecting her, staring straight into her eye as if hes trying to find something wrong there. What we see is mostly darkness with the hint of something reflected or seen inside the eye. Whatever it is, the Motorcycle Man seems satisfied.
The eye is a motif, as Under the Skin opens with the creation of The Womans eyeball. Its the first thing we see. Then as the movie builds to its narrative tipping point, we return to the eye.
Soon after, The Woman spends the day wondering the streets of Glasgow, observing person after person. This series of voyeuristic shots leads to an extreme close-up of The Womans wide eye. She seems overwhelmed or shocked. Shadow falls over the bright eye and we cut to Glasgow at night. The voyeuristic shots return, but this time theyre layered over one another. Scene after scene stacked one atop the other, chaotic but beautiful. Then The Womans face appears in the middle of it all, like the pupil in the middle of the iris.
This would seem to signify that the Motorcycle Man might be concerned about the integrity of The Woman as it relates to her ability to do her job. Is she still the heartless hunter they need her to be? Or is she, like the girl before her, starting to awaken?
In The End We Finally See What’s ‘under The Skin’
After trying to escape from society, the Female finds shelter in a building in the woods. She wakes up to find a logger raping her, so she flees. The man eventually catches up to her and attacks her, ripping off a part of her human skin and seeing the featureless creature underneath. As she begins peeling off her skin, the logger dumps gasoline on her and lights her on fire. The object of his lust has now become a source of fear and animosity. He kills the alien simply because he doesn’t understand what it is.
The tragic ending of the Female’s story doesn’t necessarily “mean something” for her, character-wise. She just has the misfortune of stumbling into danger without the human wherewithal to escape it, or the human coping mechanisms to endure it. Just as she’s beginning to feel emotions, she is so overwhelmed by them, specifically the pain and impotence of the rape attempt, that she desperately and irrationally sheds her human skin, sealing her fate prematurely.
What Is The Significance Of The Bleeding Man
About 39 minutes into Under the Skin, The Woman waits in bumper to bumper traffic. A flower seller taps on her window and tells her a man in another car bought her a rose. She takes the rose, rolls up her window, then notices theres blood on the wrapping. And the blood is now on her hand. She glances over to see the flower seller trying to bandage a pretty severe cut on his hand.
This moment is one of many that seems, by itself, kind of pointless. But it serves as a tipping point.
The giving of a rose is already a symbolic gesture. The rose is something associated with beauty. With romance. Youre telling the person you give it to that you like them. Its kind.
Blood is something we tend to view as symbolizing both vitality and vulnerability, its the thing under our skin that animates us. Without it, we die.
When The Woman sees these two things together, she has this awareness of whats under the skin of people isnt just red liquid. Its the intangible as well. The kindness, compassion, and desire to connect.
Which means The Woman will soon start to question what shes doing. That shell become aware of the loss people feel and the consequences of her actions. A sign of this is how the rose scene transitions to the news report about the man and his family who drowned on the beach and the missing child. While The Woman might not outwardly react in the moment this report happens, its another turning of the screw when it comes to her awakening to humanity.
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Who Is The Dead Woman At The Beginning Of The Movie
We see the Motorcycle Man pick up a girl from the side of the road, deposit her in a van, and bring her to the white room. There, The Woman unclothes this girl.
This is either a random human that the Motorcycle Man has captured. Or, its The Womans predecessor.
Three minor details would point to the predecessor theory.
First, the two women look alike. Same hair color. Similar features . Later in the movie, we see there are multiple Motorcycle Men who all dress alike and ride the same kind of bike. They arent 100% identical, but close enough. The aliens could have a similar process for their hunters. Dark-haired Scarlett Johannson types.
Second, the girl doesnt respond the entire time we see her. From the Motorcycle Man carrying her to The Woman undressing her. Its like theyre moving a doll. Except for this brief moment when we see tears fall out of her eyes. Its possible the aliens simply have a means of paralyzing this random human, and being in this situation would make her cry. But it feels more thematically relevant if this girl was like The Womananother hunter who developed empathy. Except she was less successful in her attempts to run away. The Motorcycle Man found her, deactivated her body, and brought her in for the transition. Except shes still mentally aware of whats happening, which makes the situation, in hindsight, quite heartbreaking. It also foreshadows the eventual emotional awakening that The Woman will have.
Jonathan Glazer Considered Shooting Under The Skin Entirely With Iphone Cameras
These days, “shot on iPhone” isn’t just an Apple marketing line, it’s a point of pride among filmmakers who’ve used the ubiquitous piece of tech to shoot their latest movie. It makes a certain statement in its eschewing of the industry standard gear like the director wants to justify their standing as a filmmaker by showing they can make a good movie without fancy equipment. Of course, the film still has to actually be good in order for the trick to work.
Luckily, we’ve had a few decent efforts in the iPhone movie sphere. There was 2015’s “Tangerine,” which director Sean Baker shot almost entirely on an iPhone 5S . Then a more high-profile example came in the form of Steven Soderbergh’s “Unsane,” which used an iPhone 7 Plus to capture what would ultimately prove to be a bit of an anticlimax of a movie. Still, it kept in the public eye the trend of directors turning to handheld tech to capture their stories.
But before Soderbergh likely even considered the notion of shooting an entire movie on a smartphone, Jonathan Glazer the idiosyncratic director of “Sexy Beast” and innumerable music videos was mulling the idea way back in 2013.
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What Happens When The Woman Tries To Eat Cake
After The Woman flees her alien life, she ends up a little lost in Scotland. At a random restaurant, she orders a slice of cake. Theres a sense of anticipation and excitement. Shes doing something thats purely for joy and her choice rather than part of her human hunting gig. We even get the close of her putting the fork in her mouth and taking in the cake. It feels almost like a holy act. Then we cut to her throwing the cake up.
The reason she cant eat the cake is because shes not a functioning person. She looks like one. But under the skin she is not. Its the same reason she cant have sex.
This becomes even more clear when we see The Womans true form. Human shape, but not human function. We dont even know if her real mouth opens or just her fake mouth.
The cake scene foreshadows the failed sex scene. Both of which undermine The Womans efforts at trying to live a human life and remind her of her non-human origin.
The Woman In The Trees
When The Woman goes to sleep in the hiker cabin, we cut to a wide shot of the forest. A ton of conifer trees fill the screen. Its kind of peaceful. Then The Woman fades into the middle of the trees. Shes curled up, asleep. It looks like shes a giant phantom in the forest. Its weird, but still peaceful. The trees sway. Shes completely tranquil. You could describe her as embodying the idea of mother nature. Or a baby in the womb. Or that this represents a connection between her and the Earth.
This isnt the first time Under the Skin has superimposed The Woman into a shot. We talked about it in the section about the Motorcycle Man inspecting The Woman. How The Woman went walking the streets of Glasnow, admiring all the people. This montage of various people turns into the many different shots stacked on top of each other, creating a collage effect. Then The Woman appears superimposed in the middle of this.
In both moments, The Woman is in the middle of the screen. And each time theres an ethereal quality to the visual. It feels out of body, more spiritual than grounded in physical reality like the rest of the movie. Almost as if the barriers between whats on screen have collapsed, symbolizing a connection forming between The Woman and people, then The Woman and nature.
The big confirmation of this spirituality is, I think, the films final shot.
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Who Is The Motorcycle Man
The Motorcycle Man seems to be in charge of The Woman. We see him bring her resources, inspect her, clean up loose ends regarding her victims, and seek her out when she runs away.
After The Woman runs away, we see there are actually multiple Motorcycle Men. Which could confirm that The Woman isnt the only alien hunting lonely men. That there might be any number more doing the same thing, each with a Motorcycle Man managing them.
This could tie back to the ant imagery, as ants tend to have defined roles in the colony. Just like The Woman and Motorcycle Man seem to have.
Why Is The Woman Lit On Fire
When the logger attacks The Woman, the struggle tears her skin suit, revealing the alien form beneath. The freaked out logger responds in cruel fashion and sets The Woman on fire, killing what he doesnt understand. Her last effort is to try and run to safety. Except the fire wins. We see her collapse in a clearing and continue to burn.
We cut, briefly, to the Motorcycle Man in the middle of nowhere, on what looks to be the top of a cliff. Snow and clouds obscure the distance but you can see a large expanse of empty land, a field thats dead in the winter, covered in snow. The whole scene is very bright. Except for the Motorcycle Man, clothed as he is in his dark motorcycle clothes. He looks out of place, sticking out in the middle of all that nature.
Then we return to The Woman. Her body is gone. Only ash, char and ember remain. A grey smoke climbs into the sky as snow falls all around. We cut to the smoke and the camera tilts to follow its billowing into the sky. The cloud loses density until its dispersed completely. All that remains is the sky and the snow.
What jumps out to me is the dichotomy of those scenes. The Motorcycle Man maintains his physical form. The Woman loses hers. The Motorcycle Man doesnt fit the landscape. The Woman joins the landscape.
But despite Glazers bleakness, I think some of that hopeful beauty comes through. That theres more to us living things than just skin and bone.
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The Unsettling Tone And Atmosphere
One of the reasons that Under the Skin is such an effective film is the creepy atmosphere from beginning to end. The film also has a brilliant score that is bone chilling. At many points, the film and the characters’ interactions seem so real, it is as if you are watching a documentary. In fact, according to Time, the men that Johansson’s character picks up on the street are real people: in full costume, Johansson drove a van through the streets of Scotland, dressed in full character, and stopped to talk to real people.
Indeed, Johannson is the focus of the film, and her character is eerie every minute that she is on-screen. It is not an uplifting film in any sense. It pulls out feelings of dread and hopelessness in nearly every frame. The camera work, cinematography, and score all blend together to create an unsettling film that is very unique. One of the major unsettling aspects of the film is a lack of dialogue. The ensuing silence adds a creepiness, making this a bone-chilling science fiction film.
How The Ending Of Under The Skin Differs From The Book
Under the Skin is based on a novel of the same name by Michel Faber that came out in 2000. As expected with any adaptation, there are differences between the two, such as how the protagonist’s name in the book is Isserley while no one calls her by anything in the film and the fact that the book presents a clear allegory for factory farming. However, one of the most interesting ways in which these two mediums diverge is in their endings.
Believe it or not, the book actually ends more ambiguously than the movie. In the novel, we see Isserley begin to question whether she wants to continue obeying her alien bosses while she’s transporting one of her prospective victims to a remote location. While she’s having this crisis of the soul, she ends up in a car accident, never making a finalized decision about what path she wants to take. Should she become fully human or obey her programming? The movie, of course, sees her make a definitive choice, allowing the disfigured man to walk free and attempting real human connection. Her tragic fate occurs as a result of that decision.
Under the Skin remains a movie that demands attention and analysis and the themes you get out of it may reveal even more about you than the film itself.
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Under The Skin Leaves Many Questions Unanswered
It’s natural if you have some questions by the end of Under the Skin, and honestly, we’re right in that boat with you. Unlike more mainstream films, this story doesn’t have a ton of exposition tacked on, and you mostly have to gather information via context clues. As such, it’s common to be perplexed by some of the more obscure aspects of the movie.
What do the aliens want with the organs of men? Was the dead woman we saw at the beginning of the film one of the aliens? What exactly is the motorcyclist’s role in all of this? Are the black pools real, or are they on a different plane of existence?
We hate to disappoint you, but there’s a reason it’s one of those movies people don’t understand: Pretty much everything in this film is open to interpretation. No concrete solutions are present, and ultimately, we’re not even sure if the answers matter all that much. Would knowing about some grand evil plan the aliens have for abducting humans enhance your viewing experience? Probably not because the movie isn’t about fighting off aliens. This is a film about an otherworldly creature not knowing her true identity, and when she tries to become human, she meets an untimely demise. It’s best viewed through that lens instead of focusing on some of the more minor details.
Why Is It Called Under The Skin
The title Under the Skin is a crucial clue to whats happening in the movie. It gets at the idea of looking beneath the surface. At going beyond appearance. Its similar to the popular idiom, Dont judge a book by its cover. A book with a great cover could contain an underwhelming story. While a book with a bad cover could still be a narrative masterpiece.
Of course, theres the pun-y nature of the title. As we come to realize that Scarlett Johanssons unnamed character is actually an alien wearing the skin of a human. So whats under the skin is this alien creature. And the movie does build to the reveal of her true formwhich looks like a store mannequin made of igneous rock.
But the real meat of the title doesnt apply to The Woman at all. Rather than worry about whats under her skin, you should think about humans from her perspective. Shes the alien on Earth, experiencing human civilization and culture for the first time. While shes clearly been educated in conversation and driving and what have you, theres still an innocence about her understanding of people. And a lot of what shes confronted within the film is whats happening under the skin of humans. What are their thoughts? Their emotions? Whats causing them to make the choices they make?
And that comes back to the title. Does the skin matter? Or is it whats under the skin? Both aliens and humans are capable of empathy and cruelty. One isnt more special or evolved than the other.
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What Happens To The Baby Left On The Beach
This scene is so tragic. We see a family die. First the dog, then the wife, then the husband. All caught in a riptide. Left alone on the shore is a baby. We see that, later, the Motorcycle Man has come to clean up the scene. Thats because The Woman had abducted another man from the beach, a loner who had tried to save the drowning husband.
Later, we hear a radio news report say, A mans body has been found washed up on a beach near Arbroath. His wife and child are reported missing. The police say the body has been identified as 36-year-old Kenneth McCelland from Edinburgh. The body was found by a torust and is believed to have been in the water for some time. Mr. McClelland was married and worked as chemistry lecturer at Edinburgh University. The alarm was raised when he failed to turn up for work this morning. His car was found at the nearby Deerpark Golf Club. His wife, 32-year-old, Alison McCelland, and 18-month old son are believed to have been with him. A police and coast guard search operation involving a helicopter has been halted due to fog.
We know the wife, Alison, had been in the water ahead of Kenneth. But that the baby had been left on shore. First, The Woman had left him there. Then the Motorcycle Man. Its possible the Motorcycle Man cleaned up. Or that someone else found the child. Or something else found the child Given how bleak the movie is, its probably safe to assume the worst.