A man walks into a desert amphitheater, his red cowboy suit clashing against a cloudy sky. As a computer pumps an orchestral score through strategically placed speakers, he turns to address a scattered crowd.
“For the past six months, my family and I have borne witness to an absolute spectacle,” he announces, emphasizing “spectacle.” A former child star, Ricky “Jupe” Park (Steven Yeun) gained notoriety from a hit sitcom. Now the proprietor of Jupiter’s Claim, a western-themed amusement park in the California wilderness, Park can only gesture toward the success he once enjoyed. But with his latest show, dubbed the “Star Lasso Experience,” Jupe hopes he’ll make it back to the big time.
What follows Jupe’s speech is one of the most memorable sequences in Nope, the latest thriller from writer and director Jordan Peele. With unflinching dexterity, Peele and cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema juxtapose the terror of encountering a being from beyond with one of the most claustrophobic scenes ever caught on film. It’s a spectacle, but not the type that Jupe had in mind.
With the exception of the movie’s oft-exclaimed title, “spectacle” might be the most frequently used word in Nope. From the opening Biblical epigraph from Nahum 3:6 (“I will pelt you with filth, I will treat you with contempt and make you a spectacle”) to the comments hurled at protagonists O.J. (Daniel Kaluuya) and Emerald “Em” Haywood (Keke Palmer), Nope is deeply concerned with dissecting the nature of making a scene.
While Nope directly references Steven Spielberg classics Jaws and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, it also draws on many of the ideas in French media theorist Guy Debord’s 1967 work, The Society of the Spectacle.
Read the full review at The Progressive.