03/25/2014 08:48 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Exploring the Meaning of CG Gore


I was moved to consider the meaning of bloodshed in movies on a recent afternoon when, finding myself with a four-hour block of time between screenings in Manhattan, I did what any critic worth his salt would do: I went to a movie.

There were a handful of big studio films which, for whatever reason, I had missed or skipped. But I was curious about a couple of them and wound up opting to see 300: Rise of an Empire, where the blood didn't run -- it gushed and levitated at the same time.

Each time a warrior sliced an opponent open, a massive breaker of blood exploded forth. It was as if all of the blood in the opponent's body chose that specific moment to pool together at the exact spot where the sword (or dagger or spear or arrow) struck. With each fatal blow (and they all seemed to be fatal), blood burst forth as though in an act of conscious liberation, each wave glistening with a shiny plastic luster that indicated both the depth and the weight of this viscous detonation of gore.

And I wondered: What does it mean? Obviously it means something; everything in movies means something. But the meaning of blood seems to have shifted significantly since I first started paying attention to such things.

For one thing, it was all computer-generated. I've decided that CG blood absolutely denotes something different than the splatter that comes from exploding blood bags, the old-school method of spraying a fake version of the fluid of life.

This commentary continues on my website.