Few Directors Followed In Sin City’s Footsteps, And Cinema Is Poorer For It


Of all the comics in the world, “Sin City” was never seen as the most probable to receive Hollywood’s attention. The infamous Frank Miller, who rose to fame in the ’80s with his work on “Daredevil” and “The Dark Knight Returns,” wanted to explore his love of old crime novels and classic film noir. As he explained in an interview in 2016, he wanted to create “a world out of balance, where virtue is defined by individuals in difficult situations, not by an overwhelming sense of goodness that was somehow governed by this godlike Comics Code.” Fittingly, Miller’s “Sin City” is stark, bleak, and devoid of anyone who could even remotely be considered heroic. The crisp black and white artwork, occasionally punctuated by splashes of color, takes the shadows of classic noir to their most brutal conclusion. Basin City is populated by corruption, sexual exploitation, gun-toting sex workers, and warring crime families. There is shocking violence, rape, child abuse, and genital mutilation, the kind of stuff that classic noir stridently avoided in the age of the Hays Code. To put it bluntly, “Sin City” is anti-Hollywood.

Director Robert Rodriguez had long been a fan of Miller’s work. Having gotten his start with the micro-budget neo-Western “El Mariachi”, he then spent the next decade veering between stylized action films, pulpy genre fare, and imaginative family-friendly titles with the “Spy Kids” series. While making the “Spy “Kids” movies, he fell in love with the potential offered by green-screen and CGI in the filmmaking process. In Roger Ebert’s review of the film, he recalled a speech Rodriguez gave on-set of “Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams”, where he declared, “This is the future! You don’t wait six hours for a scene to be lighted. You want a light over here, you grab a light and put it over here. You want a nuclear submarine, you make one out of thin air and put your characters into it.” Miller’s “Sin City” felt like the perfect material for him to further explore this new territory, and to bring the comics to light in a very literal manner.

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