Sunday, April 3, 2011

Break Out The Sad Tissues: The Dragon In My Dreams

I don't link too many sites off this blog, and there are various reasons for that. First and foremost is the fact that I like to write blog posts but generally have to construct them in bits and pieces during periods of free time, and they're sporadic enough as it is that I don't spend too much time working with the layout. There's also the fact that I don't have a huge array of websites that I follow, and I find that the ones I do generally give me a laugh after a day of work. One of the ones that updates more infrequently but is well worth it when it does is Cinemassacre Productions, home of the Angry Video Game Nerd.

"It fucking sucks, it sucking fucks, it fucking blows, it's a piece of shit...and I don't like it."

Rolfe first launched the Angry Video Game Nerd in 2004. It's a character rather than his true personality, since he's rather polite and soft-spoken in interviews while the Nerd is constantly sarcastic, enraged, profane, and psychotic. Using what seems like every video game system in the world and the crummiest of their associated games and devices, Rolfe then proceeds to rip into the flaws of each one, usually with a good deal of obscenity and over-the-top antics (up to and including the destruction of the most flagrant games).The videos vary in length, usually 10 to 20 minutes. Between scripting, editing, special effects, and other components, it seems like Rolfe usually manages to get one episode of the Angry Video Game Nerd out a month, although he also does a lot of videos on other pop culture from the 80s and 90s. Like any good nerd, he shows particular affection for Ghostbusters, Indiana Jones, and horror flicks.

One might be forgiven for watching Rolfe's Angry Video Game Nerd installments and assuming he's a "failure to launch" despite being an Internet celebrity. After all, his videos are mostly shot from a futon in a basement festooned with Nintendo Power magazines and a plentiful supply of Rolling Rock. This doesn't seem to be the case, though. Rolfe is mostly a private person, but has done some professional video work for Spike TV as well as a small videography company in Philadelphia. Somewhere along the way, he even got married.

Rolfe has shared several of his earlier projects, and one or two videos about his evolution as a filmmaker. Still, it was a bit of a surprise when Rolfe released a video looking into how and why he got into the craft:

The summary of this video, for those of you who didn't care to watch the entire thing: Rolfe drives along in search of his "fountain of youth," commenting how he's about to turn 30 and has made over 300 movies. Recalling how he's been wielding a camera since he was a child, he wonders where his creative drive comes from. He traces it to a recurring nightmare where he is attacked by a dragon. Rolfe visits his mother, who remembers how a concrete dragon feature was part of a park near the hospital where he was born and Rolfe thought it was awesome. Sometimes we're just drawn to the things that terrify us, he muses as he gives a brief biography of how he got into making movies, spent time in college, and held a variety of the jobs in the video field.

"I owe it all to the dragon, and now it's time for a reunion," Rolfe says as he pulls up to his old playground. He is overcome with emotion as he arrives at the dragon, aged and flaking paint but still standing. The park is under renovation and by a stroke of luck he's visiting on the last day the dragon will be as he remembers it in his childhood. "It's time to say goodbye to the past, time to move forward and create those movies in my dreams," he says. "Because dreams are where it all started." Rolfe looks back sadly as a construction worker resumes jackhammering around the dragon, then composes himself and drives away. The film concludes with the park (dragon still visible) fading into the distance, a short montage of photos from Rolfe's childhood, and a thank you to his parents.

Some of the movie has a bit of a staged feel to it, such as when Rolfe first reacts to the dragon. In fact, as this "outtakes" video reveals, Rolfe did indeed stage part of the video. He admits that the actual first encounter with the dragon in a couple of decades was different than what appears in the video, but also notes how you can see that his feelings are the same as what he portrays. He thanks the workers for letting him film the scene, wistfully commenting on the sentimentalism of others.

Still, there's something about the video that's very touching. To a certain degree, Rolfe is living a warped version of his childhood. He's usually in front of an NES or similarly antiquated system and surrounded by materials left over from when he was younger. He's still cranking out the Angry Video Game Nerd videos, so he hasn't entirely given up on it. But his final reflection is essentially Rolfe saying farewell to his past, which the dragon represents as something you can never revisit in exactly the same way. It's easy to get sentimental about the places from our childhood, especially as we get older and those places change.

I'm only a few years shy of Rolfe's age, and there are a lot of things from my childhood that I've lost, ranging from the original building my elementary school occupied to my uncle. It's a reflection on life: it's always a little bittersweet, as we are saddened by the things we lost and hopeful for what lies ahead. It's optimistic, but it can still bring a tear to your eye, though.

1 comment:

  1. Though this an old article, I quite enjoyed this review.