Thursday, November 18, 2010

X Men: A Unique Portrayal of Alcatraz

Looking past the action scenes that are expected in an X men movie, the main thing that jumped out at me throughout the course of this movie is the portrayal of Alcatraz. Although the island plays a lesser role in the movie when compared to other films we have watched, it serves a unique purpose contrary to that of its former role in history: “This site, which once was a famous prison, will now be the source of freedom for all mutants who choose it.” Previously home to the most dangerous criminals in our society, Alcatraz was now the site of a highly sophisticated lab. It is at this lab that a pharmaceutical company used a mutant to create a “cure” for the mutant X-gene.

They chose to create Worthington lab on Alcatraz because it was the safest location they could find. Now, instead of using its location to prevent criminals from escaping, Alcatraz is now perfectly situated to prevent the much-regarded cure of this disease from getting out to the public. Because of its highly potent and supposedly irreversible power, the medicine must be safely kept in the hands of those who created it. Like the prisoners who were formerly kept in cramped cells, if the medicine were to get out, it could pose a great danger to society. For this reason, the limited accessibility of Alcatraz makes it the perfect venue to safeguard this important medicine.

Similar to its past, Alcatraz is again the site of a major battle. Like we saw in The Birdman of Alcatraz, there is an attempted takeover of the island. Magneto and his brotherhood of mutants wish to destroy the lab and the child who helped create the cure for the mutant gene. In viewing their invasion, we are reminded that no matter how impenetrable Alcatraz was considered, it always seems to be the location of major, unanticipated conflicts.



  1. I was also surprised by the different role that Alcatraz played in this movie. What this showed me is that Alcatraz is a symbol that can be readapted and changed to serve a different purpose. Alcatraz has served many roles during its lifetime, in the real world and in the media. I find it really amazing that such a location manages to convey many seemingly different, yet related messages. As you pointed out it seems that the Rock is a common setting for conflict and people are always trying to conquer it.

  2. I find it funny that people might continue to think of Alcatraz as serving the role of an impenetrable place; in every single use of the installation-island, fictional or nonfictional, it has been broken into/out of. In X-men it was especially easy to penetrate - both Magneto's crew and Xavier's crew independently got in, not even stealthily, and while attacking each other. The keepers of the island seem to consistently overestimate its security.

    Although the isolated location, concrete walls, and armed guards were once what made this place secure, the veil of secrecy is the strongest protection of Alcatraz. Just as when the island was let carry on crimes against humanity due to the cover of obscurity, the labs were only let develop their cure/weapon because Mutants didn't know about it.

  3. I agree with Kevin's statement about the permeability of Alcatraz. In the Rock, Alcatraz was easily accessible for the Marines to take over and even easier for Sean Connery to lead his team right in, unnoticed.
    It also caught my attention that Alcatraz was extremely accessible. The island itself is easy enough for everyone to get to. For example, it is simple enough for Mangeto to pick up the Golden Gate Bridge and walk right over. Once on the island, the actual structure of Alcatraz is all but impenetrable. Kitty Pride can phase through walls and Juggernaut can blast through them, as they can access any part of the prison that they choose.
    While the scenes in X-Men are far from realistic, these are only a few examples that stood out to me when analyzing Alcatraz as an "impenetrable" force