Sin City (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Frank Miller |
|Produced by||Elizabeth Avellan |
|Written by||Frank Miller|
|Based on||Sin City: |
|Starring||Clive Owen |
Michael Clarke Duncan
and Benicio del Toro
|Music by||John Debney |
|Editing by||Robert Rodriguez|
|Distributed by||Dimension Films|
|Release date(s)|| |
|Running time||124 minutes|
Sin City, also known as Frank Miller's Sin City, is a 2005 crime thriller film written, produced and directed by Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez. It is a neo-noir based on Miller's graphic novel series of the same name.
The film is primarily based on three of Miller's works: The Hard Goodbye, about a man who embarks on a brutal rampage in search of his one-time sweetheart's killer; The Big Fat Kill, which focuses on a street war between a group of prostitutes and a group of mercenaries; and That Yellow Bastard, which follows an aging police officer who protects a young woman from a grotesquely disfigured serial killer. The film stars Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke, Clive Owen, Jessica Alba, Benicio del Toro, Brittany Murphy, Elijah Wood, Rosario Dawson, Jaime King, Rutger Hauer, Carla Gugino, Michael Madsen and Nick Stahl, among others.
Sin City opened to wide critical and commercial success, gathering particular recognition for the film's unique color processing, which rendered most of the film in black and white but retained or added coloring for select objects. The film was screened at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival in-competition and won the Technical Grand Prize for the film's "visual shaping".
|This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. Please help improve it by removing unnecessary details and making it more concise. (November 2011)|
The Customer Is Always Right (Part 1)
The Salesman (Josh Hartnett) walks onto a penthouse balcony where The Customer (Marley Shelton) looks out over Basin City. He offers her a cigarette and says that she looks like someone who is tired of running and that he will save her. The two share a kiss and he shoots her; she dies in his arms. He says he’ll never know what she was running from but that he’ll cash her check in the morning.
That Yellow Bastard (Part 1)
On the docks of Sin City, aging police officer John Hartigan (Bruce Willis) tries to stop serial child-killer Roark Junior (Nick Stahl) from raping and killing eleven-year-old Nancy Callahan (Makenzie Vega). Junior is the son of Senator Roark (Powers Boothe), who has bribed the police to cover up his son's crimes. Hartigan's partner, Bob (Michael Madsen) tries to convince Hartigan to walk away. Hartigan knocks him out.
Hartigan heads into the warehouse where Junior is holding Nancy, fighting off the pain caused by his bad heart, as well as several henchmen. Junior shoots Hartigan in the shoulder and tries to escape. Hartigan catches up and shoots off Junior's ear, hand, and genitals. Bob, now recovered, shoots Hartigan in the back; he has been paid off by Roark Sr. As the sirens approach, Bob leaves and Nancy lies down in Hartigan's lap. Hartigan passes out, reasoning his death is a fair trade for the girl's life.
The Hard Goodbye
After a one-night stand, Marv (Mickey Rourke) awakens to find Goldie (Jaime King) has been killed while he slept. He flees the frame-up as the police arrive, vowing to avenge her death. His parole officer, Lucille (Carla Gugino), warns him to give up on this mission. Marv interrogates several informants, working up to a corrupt priest (Frank Miller), who reveals that the Roark family was behind the murder. Marv kills the priest after he insults Goldie but is attacked by a woman who looks like Goldie, which he dismisses as a hallucination.
Marv goes to the Roark family farm and is subdued by the silent stalker who killed Goldie. He awakens in the basement to find Lucille has been captured after looking into his story. She tells Marv that the killer is a cannibal and that Goldie was a prostitute. He learns that the killer's name is Kevin (Elijah Wood) and escapes. Lucille is gunned down by the leader of an arriving squad of cops, who, after the squad is killed, is interrogated by Marv. Marv finds out that Cardinal Patrick Henry Roark (Rutger Hauer) arranged for Goldie's murder.
Marv goes to Old Town, Sin City's prostitute-run red-light district, to learn more about Goldie and is captured by her twin sister, Wendy, who had been stalking him and was the attacker Marv previously dismissed as a hallucination. He eventually convinces her that he is not the killer. She and Marv return to the farm where Marv kills Kevin. He confronts Cardinal Roark, who confesses his part in the murders. Kevin was the cardinal's ward; the two men ate the prostitutes to 'consume their souls'. Marv kills the cardinal but is then shot and captured by his guards.
Marv is taken to a hospital where cops threaten to kill his mother to get him to confess to killing Roark, Kevin, and their victims. He is sentenced to death in the electric chair. Wendy visits him on death row and thanks him for avenging her sister. Marv is executed the next day.
The Big Fat Kill
Shellie (Brittany Murphy) is being harassed by her abusive ex-boyfriend Jackie Boy (Benicio del Toro). Her current boyfriend, Dwight (Clive Owen) violently warns him to leave Shellie alone. Jackie Boy flees to Old Town. Dwight follows and sees them harass Becky (Alexis Bledel), a young prostitute. Gail (Rosario Dawson), the prostitutes' leader and Dwight's on-and-off lover, also witnesses the scene. When Jackie Boy threatens Becky with a gun, Miho (Devon Aoki), a martial arts expert, kills Jackie Boy and his friends. They realize Jackie Boy is actually Detective Lieutenant Jonathan "Iron Jack" Rafferty of the Basin City police, considered a "hero cop" by the press. If the cops learn how he died, their truce with the prostitutes would end and the mob would be free to wage war on Old Town.
Dwight takes the bodies to a tar pit, where he is attacked by an ex-IRA mercenary hired by mob boss Wallenquist. He nearly drowns in the tar before Miho saves him. The mercenary runs away in the sewer with Jackie Boy's severed head but Dwight and Miho are able to retrieve it and return to Old Town. Meanwhile, the head mercenary, Manute (Michael Clarke Duncan), kidnaps Gail. Becky has been threatened with the death of her mother by the mob and has betrayed the prostitutes. The mob is moving to invade with Manute leading. Dwight trades Jackie Boy’s head in exchange for Gail, but activates an explosive he placed inside the head, destroying it before it can be taken to the cops for evidence. The other prostitutes gun down the mercenaries while an injured Becky escapes.
That Yellow Bastard (Part 2)
Hartigan is recovering in a hospital when Senator Roark informs him that Junior is in a coma and the Roark legacy is in serious jeopardy. Hartigan will be framed for Junior's crimes; if he tells anyone the truth, they will die. A grateful Nancy promises to write letters every week while he is in prison. Hartigan goes to jail, though he refuses to confess. He receives a weekly letter from Nancy, as promised. After eight years, the letters stop and he receives a severed finger instead. Hartigan confesses to all charges leading to his parole and searches for an adult Nancy (Jessica Alba), not knowing he is being followed by a deformed, yellow man. He eventually finds her at Kadie's Bar, where she has become an erotic dancer.
He realizes he was set up to lead the yellow man to Nancy and the two escape in Nancy's car. Hiding at a hotel, the deformed man returns, revealing himself as Junior Roark, disfigured by years of surgery to regenerate his body parts. Junior attacks Hartigan and takes Nancy to the Roark farm to finish what he started eight years before. Hartigan follows and fakes a heart attack, giving him a chance to kill Junior. Knowing that Senator Roark will never stop hunting them, Hartigan commits suicide to ensure Nancy's safety. Again, he justifies his life for Nancy's as a fair trade.
The Customer Is Always Right (Part 2)
An injured Becky departs from a hospital, talking on a cell phone with her mother. In the elevator she encounters The Salesman, dressed as a doctor. He offers her a cigarette, calling her by name, as she abruptly ends the call with her mother. Her fate is never revealed.
- Josh Hartnett as The Salesman, known in the screenplay as "The Man".
- Marley Shelton as The Customer
- Mickey Rourke as Marv
- Jaime King as Goldie/Wendy
- Carla Gugino as Lucille
- Rutger Hauer as Cardinal Patrick Henry Roark
- Jason Douglas as Hitman
- Frank Miller as Priest
- Brittany Murphy as Shellie
- Jessica Alba as Nancy Callahan
- Alexis Bledel as Becky
- Clive Owen as Dwight McCarthy
- Benicio del Toro as Det. Lt. Jack "Jackie Boy" Rafferty
- Rosario Dawson as Gail
- Michael Clarke Duncan as Manute
- Devon Aoki as Miho
- Patricia Vonne as Dallas
- Nicky Katt as Stuka
- Bruce Willis as Det. John Hartigan
- Nick Stahl as Roark Junior/Yellow Bastard
- Powers Boothe as Senator Roark
- Michael Madsen as Bob
- Makenzie Vega as Young Nancy Callahan
- Jude Ciccolella as Liebowitz
- Rick Gomez as Klump
- Nick Offerman as Shlubb
- Tommy Flanagan as Brian
- Elijah Wood as Kevin
Proof of concept
After his experience with Hollywood on the RoboCop sequels, Miller did not want to release the film rights, fearing a similar result. Rodriguez, a long-time fan of the graphic novels, was eager to adapt Sin City for the screen. His plan was to make a fully faithful adaptation, follow the source material closely, and make a "translation, not an adaptation". In hopes of convincing Miller to give the project his blessing, Rodriguez shot a "proof of concept" adaptation of the Sin City story "The Customer is Always Right" (starring Josh Hartnett and Marley Shelton). Rodriguez flew Miller into Austin to be present at this test shooting, and Miller was very happy with the results. This footage was later used as the opening scene for the completed project.
This is one of the first films—along with Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Casshern, and Immortel (Ad Vitam)—to be shot primarily on a digital backlot. The film employed the Sony HDC-950 high-definition digital camera, having the actors work in front of a green screen, that allowed for the artificial backgrounds (as well as some major foreground elements, such as cars) to be added later during the post-production stage. Three sets were constructed by hand:
- Kadie's Bar, where all of the major characters make an appearance at least once and also the only location in which all objects are in color.
- Shellie's apartment. The front door and kitchen are real, while bathroom and corridors are artificial.
- The hospital corridor in the epilogue. Although the first shot of walking feet was done on greenscreen, the corridor in the next shot is real. The background becomes artificial again when the interior of the elevator is shown.
While the use of a green screen is standard for special effects filming, the use of high-definition digital cameras is quite noteworthy in the production of this film. The combination of these two techniques made Sin City at the time (along with Sky Captain, which was produced the same way) one of the few fully digital, live-action motion pictures (since then, digital has grown in popularity). This technique also means that the whole film was initially shot in full color, and was converted to black-and-white. Colorization is used on certain subjects in a scene, such as Devon Aoki's red-and-blue clothing; Alexis Bledel's blue eyes and red blood; Michael Clarke Duncan's golden eye; Rutger Hauer's green eyes; Jaime King's red dress and blonde hair; Clive Owen's red Converse shoes and Cadillac; Mickey Rourke's red blood and orange prescription pill container; Marley Shelton's green eyes, red dress, and red lips; Nick Stahl's yellow face and body; and Elijah Wood's white glasses. Much of the blood in the film also has a striking glow to it. The film was color-corrected digitally and, as in film noir tradition, treated for heightened contrast so as to more clearly separate blacks and whites. This was done not only to give a more film-noir look, but also to make it appear more like the original comic. This technique was used again on another Frank Miller adaptation, 300, which was shot on film.
Principal photography began on March 29, 2004. Several of the scenes were shot before every actor had signed on; as a result, several stand-ins were used before the actual actors were digitally added into the film during post-production. Rodriguez, an aficionado of cinematic technology, has used similar techniques in the past. In critic Roger Ebert's review of the film, he recalled Rodriguez's speech during production of Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams: "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."
The film was noted throughout production for Rodriguez's plan to stay faithful to the source material, unlike most other comic book adaptations. Rodriguez stated that he considered the film to be "less of an adaptation than a translation". As a result, there is no screenwriting in the credits; simply "Based on the graphic novels by Frank Miller". There were several minor changes, such as dialogue trimming, new colorized objects, removal of some nudity, slightly edited violence, and minor deleted scenes. These scenes were later added in the release of the Sin City Collectors DVD, which also split the books into the 4 separate stories.
Three directors received credit for Sin City: Miller, Rodriguez, and Quentin Tarantino, the last for directing one scene in the film. Miller and Rodriguez worked as a team directing the rest of the film. Despite having no previous directorial background, Miller was substantially involved in the direction of the film, providing direction to the actors on their motivations and what they needed to bring to each scene. Because of this (and the fact that Miller's original books were used as storyboards), Rodriguez felt that they should both be credited as directors on the film.
When the Directors Guild of America refused to allow two directors that were not an established team to be credited (especially since Miller had never directed before), Rodriguez first planned to give Miller full credit. Miller would not accept this, as he certainly could not have done it without Rodriguez. Rodriguez, also refusing to take full credit, decided to resign from the Guild so that the joint credit could remain.
The film opened on April 1, 2005, being acclaimed by reviews, receiving a 78% "Certified Fresh" rating at Rotten Tomatoes.
Roger Ebert awarded the film four out of four stars, describing it as "a visualization of the pulp noir imagination, uncompromising and extreme. Yes, and brilliant." Online critical reaction was particularly strong: James Berardinelli placed the film on his list of the ten best films of 2005. Several critics including Ebert compared the film favorably to other comic book adaptations, particularly Batman and Hulk. Critic Chauncey Mabe of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel wrote, "Really, there will be no reason for anyone to make a comic-book film ever again. Miller and Rodriguez have pushed the form as far as it can possibly go."
There were several reviews predominantly focused on the film's more graphic content, criticizing it for a lack of "humanity". William Arnold of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer described it as a celebration of "helpless people being tortured... I kept thinking of those clean-cut young American guards at Abu Ghraib. That is exactly the mentality Rodriguez is celebrating here. Sin City is their movie." Other critics focused on especially negative elements: "scenes depicting castration, murder, torture, decapitation, rape and misogyny."
New York Times critic Manohla Dargis claimed that the directors' "commitment to absolute unreality and the absence of the human factor" made it "hard to get pulled into the story on any level other than the visceral". Credit is given for Rodriguez's "scrupulous care and obvious love for its genre influences" but Dargis notes "it's a shame the movie is kind of a bore" where the private experience of reading a graphic novel does not translate, stating that "the problem is, this is his private experience, not ours".
In a more lighthearted piece focusing on the progression of movies and the origins of Sin City, fellow Times critic A. O. Scott, identifying Who Framed Roger Rabbit as its chief cinematic predecessor, argued that "Something is missing – something human. Don't let the movies fool you: Roger Rabbit was guilty," with regard to the increasing use of digitisation within movies to replace the human elements. He applauds the fact Rodriguez "has rendered a gorgeous world of silvery shadows that updates the expressionist cinematography of postwar noir" but bemoans that several elements of "old film noirs has been digitally broomed away", resulting instead in a movie that "offers sensation without feeling, death without grief, sin without guilt and, ultimately, novelty without surprise".
Sin City grossed $29.1 million on its opening weekend, defeating fellow opener Beauty Shop by more than twice its opening take. The film saw a sharp decline in its second weekend, dropping over fifty percent. Ultimately, the film ended its North American run with a gross of $74.1 million against its $40 million negative cost. Overseas, the film grossed $84.6 million, for a worldwide total from theater receipts of $158.7 million.
Awards and honors
Mickey Rourke won awards from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, Online Film Critics Society, Chicago Film Critics Association, and the Irish Film and Television Awards for his performance. The film was in competition for the Palme d'Or at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival, and Rodriguez won the Technical Grand Prize for the visual shaping of the film.
The Region 1 DVD was released on August 16, 2005. The single-disc edition was released with four different slipcovers to choose from and featured a "Behind-the-Scenes" documentary. Then, on December 13, 2005, the special edition DVD was released, known as the "Recut, Extended, Unrated" edition. On October 21, 2008 a Blu-ray edition, which is region free, was released by Alliance in Canada. On January 29, 2009 a US Blu-ray Disc release was confirmed for April 23, 2009. It is a 2-disc edition featuring both the Theatrical and the "Recut, Unrated, Extended" versions of the film.
The Special Edition was a two-disc set, featuring both the 124-minute theatrical release, along with the 147-minute "Recut, Unrated, Extended" edition (this edition restored edited and deleted scenes that were missing from the theatrical edition). Bonus material included an audio commentary with director Rodriguez and Miller, a commentary with Rodriguez and Tarantino, and a third commentary featuring the recorded audience reaction at the Austin, Texas Premiere. Also included were various behind-the-scenes documentaries and features, as well as a pocket-sized version of the graphic novel "The Hard Goodbye". Shortly after, the same DVD/book package was released in a limited edition giftbox with a set of Sin City playing cards and a small stack of Sin City poker chips not available anywhere else.
The initial Region 2 release only features a 7-minute featurette on the movie. HMV stores had limited quantities of the four slipcases. Amazon.co.uk released another limited edition which housed the film, and the three books it is based on, in a hard case. In October 2007, the Recut, Extended, and Unrated edition was finally released in the UK. Although it does not feature the reproduction of "The Hard Goodbye" book, it does come in Steelbook packaging. This version of the movie was initially exclusive to HMV stores, but is now available at most retailers in the UK.
Original music was composed by Rodriguez as well as John Debney and Graeme Revell. The three main stories in the film ("The Hard Goodbye", "The Big Fat Kill", and "That Yellow Bastard") were each scored by an individual composer: Revell scored "Goodbye", Debney scored "Kill", and Rodriguez scored "Bastard". Additionally, Rodriguez co-scored with the other two composers on several tracks.
Another notable piece of music used was the instrumental version of the song "Cells" by the London-based alternative group The Servant. The song was heavily featured in the film's publicity, including the promotional trailers and television spots, as well as being featured on the film's DVD menus.
"Sensemayá" by Silvestre Revueltas is also used on the end sequence of "That Yellow Bastard". Fluke's track "Absurd" is also used when Hartigan first enters Kadie's.
Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
- List of films based on crime books
- "Sin City". Box Office Mojo. Amazon.com. class="Z3988" title="ctx_ver=Z39.88-2004&rft_val_fmt=info%3Aofi%2Ffmt%3Akev%3Amtx%3Abook&rft.genre=bookitem&rft.btitle=Sin+City&rft.atitle=Box+Office+Mojo&rft.pub=Amazon.com&rft_id=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.boxofficemojo.com%2Fmovies%2F%3Fid%3Dsincity.htm&rfr_id=info:sid/en.wikipedia.org:Sin_City_(film)">
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- "Festival de Cannes: Sin City". festival-cannes.com. class="reference-accessdate">. Retrieved 2009-12-06.
- "Cannes Film Festival awards report". Imdb.com. class="reference-accessdate">. Retrieved 2011-02-09.
- "entry for ''Sin City'', Trivia notes". Imdb.com. class="reference-accessdate">. Retrieved 2011-02-09.
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- "Rodriguez Quits DGA". Contact Music. class="reference-accessdate">. Retrieved 28 November 2011.
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- New York Times Review
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