Guy Cry Cinema
The Best Cinematic Apperances of The Grim Reaper

Firefilm | 3 Sep 2015 12:00
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DISCLAIMER: This is not a series dedicated to proving men shouldn't cry, or to suggest ONLY women cry and are therefore inferior. The goal of this series is to dispel the pre-established (yet flawed) notion that being "manly" and being disconnected from your emotions go hand-in-hand. Even the most macho of men enjoy and even shed a tear at films, and the sooner we can admit that the sooner the concept that one sex is better than the other can go away. While the approach to these articles is one of light-hearted comedy, the emotional core is valid. While men might be more hesitant to admit it, movies often times have the potential to make us cry, for example:

"Movies with the Grim Reaper"

Sometimes the Grim Reaper - the personification of death - is portrayed as evil, but more often than not he's just doing his job. Dude's got a list, and when it's your turn, time's up. There are also interpretations where there is no singular Grim Reaper, but rather an army of reapers answering to some higher power. I'm personally fond of the simple idea of an Angel of Death, one dude (creature?) who acts as debt collector to the afterlife. You can't run, you can't hide, and at best you can play a few board games to stall the inevitable. Movies love to cast this figure, as it gives form and presence to what otherwise would be a stupid gust of wind (I'm looking at you, Final Destination) Even that franchise couldn't help but cast Candyman as the maybe kinda sorta Grim Reaper. Let's take a look at some better Reapers and the emotional films they inhabit.

1. Last Action Hero

Did you remember that Magneto was Death? Bet you didn't! Yes, Ian McKellen makes a cameo as the Grim Reaper in this awesome film...don't-tell-me-it-wasn't-awesome-cause-it-was! Perhaps ahead of its time, Last Action Hero was simultaneously a gigantic meta-joke on the concept of action hero movies, but also of Arnold Schwarzenegger's career. The underlying concept is that a magic movie ticket allows two-way travel between the real world and movies. A few inconsistencies and tropes from movies are examined, and it's just plain charming. Viewers potentially can get emotional at Arnold's constant guilt of losing his son, but more so at his existential crisis when he realizes his existence is fiction.

Near the end, the personification of Death from The Seventh Seal comes out of the screen and investigates this new world, curious why Arnold's fictional character isn't on his lists. An interesting nod to fictional characters outliving their real creators, but also a creepy Death played by Magneto/Gandalf. And when he turns toward Arnold and his young real-world compatriot, it's enough to chill the boy's bones. McKellen is so weary and cynical that he proceeds to tell a 13-year-old an approximate time he will die. And he actually seems disappointed to not be taking a life.

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