I know what you’re thinking: another ideologue scraping the bottom of the barrel for any excuse to politically vent. This sentiment, I assure you, on how I perceive A Quiet Place isn’t politically or ideologically motivated — or, at least, it’s not intended to be. It’s important I state that before voicing my interpretation on this excellent recent film.
(MASSIVE SPOILERS FOLLOW)
Within the first ten minutes of the plot making its tense introduction, one thing quickly dawned on me. Now, at least in my construing of the set-up, this bare premise is more profound than I expected. There have been accounts on how it shows more of a semblance to the fears of parenthood. Perhaps it’s because I am not yet a father myself — although I don’t harshly disagree with this insight, necessarily — but I want to melt away another layer while dissecting this film.
We follow a family of five in a post-apocalyptic, U.S., rural town, scavenging for supplies. But doing so with utmost quietness (that’s an understatement). We quickly learn that if one makes a sound that goes above a very low decibel threshold they will meet their barbarous demise in the fashion of alien-like creatures within moments. They filch meds and appliances in a derelict grocery store while tip-toeing around in an attempt at being unheard. That’s a microcosm. We despise social situations that make us uncomfortable. We avoid other people, different people, with different opinions, navigating our lives around confrontation.
There are so many taboo, multicultural topics and forever impending referendums that it frankly becomes exhausting. American gun control, abortion, cannabis legalization, gender pro-nouns, Trump vs Clinton, left vs right, Russia vs America vs North Korea — we’re probably going to look back on the times of today and remember one thing over everything else: fear. The fear of speaking our minds.
The somewhat shapeless monsters act as the ruthless despots of a dictatorship, imposing their prerequisite quietness and inertia onto the oppressed proletarian family. It doesn’t require a lot of mental gymnastics to see how this plot is relevant commentary on the times.
The quietness works. If nobody speaks, the danger is relatively invisible, but it’s no way to live. How are we going to evolve for the betterment of future generations if we can’t make some noise about our tribulations? Survival becomes a mere impossibility in this story and the quality of life becomes primordial and downgraded. You have no voice; you have no power.
The Current World’s Struggles With Free Speech
One could argue that we’re all too contentious in the face of opposition and individuals holding polar opposite opinions. At one point in the film that evokes a great sense of preliminary anxiety is Evelyn’s pregnancy. It makes you wonder just how on earth is she going to give birth without making a single sound. And subsequently, how they are going to raise an incessantly crying baby in a magnetically ferocious world. The overall story almost takes a page from Noah’s ark.
The gestation period displays to the viewer how they have been preparing for this momentously detrimental event. The baby is born, put in a sound-proof box and a literal flood occurs. But it’s important to highlight that even in the face of danger in this critically dangerous circumstance, it isn’t a liberating ordeal. They are still in silence. It doesn’t seem like an obvious victory.
This is how it feels in the modern-day; we just can’t make a sound anymore and everything becomes more difficult and complicated.
The Hearing Aid
The father of the family, Lee, and his deaf daughter, Regan, have a strenuous relationship with one another. The friction between them is centered around Lee’s overprotective injunctions. While tumultuously playing with a toy NASA rocket, their son, Beau, is horrifyingly taken from them. Children naturally can’t forestall their yearning for exploration and there’s no other memento more fitting than a high-tech spacecraft.
Regan also believes that her father simply doesn’t love her, due to the events in the opening act. But in the midst of Lee’s death, he painfully signals to her that he does, in fact, love her. However, it isn’t until she discovers that the hearing aid he was so diligently working on to help her hear is the key to overthrowing the tyranny.
The hearing aid is a token of hard work, research, perseverance and love. But the intimation here, I believe, is that we have to possess the ability to listen before strategizing a game plan. The utility of the hearing aid is what is ultimately needed in order to muster up a solution to defeat the evil horrors in the film. You might not get along so well with your elders, but their selfless drudgery in equipping you with the autonomy in dealing with treacherous issues is their sacrificial duty. In other words: help your children in learning the world around them and grant them with the ability to listen, literally.
Problem Solving: Improvise, Adapt and Overcome
There’s a Darwinian ‘survival of the fittest’ closing moment in its third act. A ‘discovery of fire’ moment that deconstructs the very enemies tormenting this family. Think before you speak, or in this case: make noise only when it’s warranted and bolstered up with a nuanced plan of action. It’s also teaching us when it’s appropriate to make a sound and when it’s not. But in order to speak honestly, in order to get closer to the truth, we must be willing to risk making a few mistakes or being perceived as offensive or baleful. I’m not stating that as divine gospel, but is this what the narrative is implying?
There’s nothing innocuous about a fiery argument that challenges the very ways of our being, culture and political affiliations. Here, in A Quiet Place, those battles are embodied by the hasty abominations lurking in the shadows, waiting to pounce. Just because you’re safe by not opening your mouth doesn’t mean they’re not present. However dogmatic our dispositions may seem, we can never escape criticism, no matter how quiet we stay.
Evelyn pumps the shotgun with emancipating confidence, identifying the Achilles heel, ending the film.
You can see how Krasinski primarily resonated with the parenting focus of the screenplay. We desire the best possible home for our children and I think that’s why it’s also closely laced with political ideation. But I can’t stop thinking about how this phenomenal film’s approach with such a nascent angle on the world turned upside down has such oomph. Not to back-pedal, but this goes without saying that this is just speculative thought. It’s a view on this film that I struggle to articulate but love proposing it to others who’ve seen it. This is why I adore the movie.
Thank you for reading! What are your thoughts on A Quiet Place? Comment down below!
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