Each year, a select few movie lines vie for entry into the pantheon of immortal film dialogue -- the kind of random but inescapable catchphrases you hear commentators shouting out on “Sports Center” or coworkers mimicking at the office Christmas party. “Call it, friend-o.” “Go ahead, make my day.” “Show me the money!” Daniel Day-Lewis’ gasket-busting, dairy-imbibing taunt from 2007’s “There Will Be Blood."
Our nomination for this year: “I see you." The phrase can be heard throughout “Avatar,” uttered time and again by the Na’vi (the film's nature-loving, spiritually attuned, 11-foot-tall, Smurf-hued panther people).
To put “I see you” in its proper context, a primer on its usage is in order.
In “Avatar's" self-contained universe, you might urgently whisper “I see you” to, say, some giant predatory animal whose guts you have just splayed across the jungle floor. Or to a frisky alien princess (Zoe Saldana’s Neytiri character) with whom you would like to “mate.”
Vague and deliberately open-ended, “I see you” is meant to convey the Na’vis’ oneness with nature and deep connection with the spiritual realm. But that won’t stop the line from winding up on T-shirts for sale at a mall near you any minute.
It's not the only contender for aphorism of the year. Another dark horse entry comes courtesy of Lars von Trier’s art house horror flick “Antichrist.”
During a surreal scene in which Willem Dafoe’s anguished character is shown stumbling through the woods, he chances upon a fox busying itself with a macabre task: devouring its own flesh. The beast suddenly stops and tosses its head back. Then it growls another of the year’s catchphrases: “Chaos reigns.”
“Antichrist’s” U.S. distributor, IFC Films, reportedly tried to cash in on an early outpouring of fanboy goodwill toward “Chaos reigns” by making the phrase part of the movie’s ad campaign. As Variety succinctly said about the line: “Chaos reigns. And buzz abounds.”
-- Chris Lee