Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Anti smoking advocacy in Constantine

Constantine's first appearance in the movie starts with a discarded cigarette butt. From then on, in almost every scene we see him light up cigarettes with a flashy cross adorned zippo lighter. I swear that he never finishes one, but butts keep falling dramatically. In the first 20 mins of this incessant chain smoking behaviour, I realized how rarely we see lead characters smoking on screen these days. I'm sure the anti smoking hysteria has ensured that there's no way a lead character can be shown smoking, in an effort to undermine the glamourous side of smoking on screen, as seen in the olden days. Then we have scene when Constantine goes to a doctor and it turns out that he has cancer of the lungs. He even makes a statement which goes something like this:" I have defeated things that you would not believe and I 'm going to hell because of this?" pointing to the cigarette in his hand. We expect him to throw the unlit cigarette into the bin, but he lights up one in the hospital. We think, ok, here's a man with standards. And here's a movie that's not afraid to blow smoke on the collective faces of anti-smoking society. But sadly it's a let down.
The cancered lungs make a brief re-entry in to the plot, which I will put in white to avoid spoilers, you can highlight the following sentences if you're so inclined. Lucifer prevents Constantine from finally going to heaven by reaching into his lungs and pulling the cancerous tissue out. But of course this is a stupid plot twist because Constantine is dying of bleeding and not of cancer, well not immediately anyway.
So we end the movie with Constantine standing on the roof of a building looking at the nightscape of the city, and he makes a characteristic movement- reaching for his pocket, and then for a brief moment you think that he's going to pull out a cigarette, but no, of course he doesn't, he pulls out CHEWING GUM!!!! An exorcist who CHEWS GUM! What can be worse than that.

Here's Anansi Girl's review of the movie.