Since the pandemic took the media spotlight, we’ve been inundated with warnings and policies relating to wearing a mask, washing our hands and maintaining social distancing. All of these noble efforts have been an attempt to create awareness around the effort to protect people around us from contracting coronavirus and reducing the spread of the Covid-19. No entry without a mask is pinned up outside most shops requiring you to disinfect your hands before doing your shopping. With masks being so prominent right now, it seemed only natural for us to take a look at 10 iconic masks in movies.
V for Vendetta is a dystopian political action thriller written by the Wachowskis and serves as one of the most famous mask movies. The movie has become interwoven in pop culture but has also been leveraged by political groups using the iconic Guy Fawkes mask as a brand against tyranny. Using the iconic mask as a revolutionary symbol, it became a major component of their marketing campaign and has become synonymous and instantly recognisable as the mask from V for Vendetta.
The late Patrick Swayze was known for more than just Dirty Dancing. In one of his coolest and most memorable roles in Point Break, he played surfer and part-time bank robber Bodhi opposite Keanu Reeves as an undercover detective. While Kathryn Bigelow’s film doesn’t centre on masks, the iconic bank robbery in American president masks stands out in Hollywood history. Who can forget Johnny Utah’s epic chase down of the notorious surf ring leader. Watch the documentary Bra Boys if you need an example of real surf gang culture.
Horror features quite predominantly when it comes to masks in movies. The idea of uncertainty and hidden identity is a common theme that gets exploited in the genre. This is probably best exemplified by Halloween through the character of Michael Myers. The mask has evolved through the ages with sequels and reboots, but the basic haunting form has remained the same. One of the scariest things about the film is that no one really knows what’s actually driving or motivating this cloaked villain. John Carpenter’s horror movie is now a staple feature come October and it’s largely due to that iconic mask of doom.
The Strangers is one of the best horror movies of all-time if you ignore the second half. An exercise in carefully built suspense and nail-biting stay-at-home tension, the filmmakers managed to bring a lot of what made Halloween so successful into this horror about a family of indiscriminate killers. Their leader is sack cloth, who leads the home invasion terror from the background. Seeing his ghostly mask appear so timidly at first, it’s difficult to watch as Liv Tyler gets cornered.
Excalibur is one of the few Arthurian legends that has retained its mystique. Originally John Boorman wanted to direct Lord of the Rings but wasn’t able to do to the ambitious scope and VFX requirements at the time. Instead he focused on another alluring myth bringing Patrick Stewart, Liam Neeson and Helen Mirren alongside Nigel Terry to bring Arthur to life. An iconic soundtrack, the sword and this peculiar and creepy golden suit of armour are elements that will endure in your mind long after the credits.
The Mask is one of the roles that catapulted Jim Carrey into the spotlight as one of the biggest box office contenders. While the over-the-top performance and outlandish story may have irked some audiences, there was no denying his one-of-a-kind talent! Using the mask, he was able to cut loose and jump into the world of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? with his audacious and cartoonish set pieces. A central device, the name of the film and Jim Carrey firing on all cylinders opposite Cameron Diaz, it’s difficult to forget… even if you want to!
The Scream franchise by Wes Craven has made it difficult for Neve Campbell to do anything else. A massive horror event with its send up of the genre with some genuinely scary moments involving the ghostface killer, it’s ingrained in pop culture. The series is gearing up for the fifth movie in the series with many cast members reprising their roles, which is testament to the enduring quality of the concept and the iconic mask behind it all. From Scary Movie spoofs to popular Halloween garb, it’s an iconic and easily recognisable mask.
From Adam West to Robert Pattinson, Batman has become a firm favourite in Hollywood with many actors trying to do justice to Bruce Wayne. The self-made superhero character has similar qualities to Bond, relying on his gear, smarts and brute strength to take down villains. His mask is easily recognisable and is probably the most famous superhero mask of them all. Whoever’s wearing it, they become the dark caped avenger and vigilante symbol of justice on the underground.
Friday the 13th has made it difficult for people to visit camps and ice hockey goalies to wear their mask anywhere but on the ice. A naturally intimidating mask has become something much more sinister when it travels by night with a machete-wielding maniac beneath it. Jason Voorhees now owns that mask whoever’s wearing it and it seems that his relentless sequels will keep him alive no matter how many times you kill him. A classic ’80s horror character, there’s something so brutally simple about this slasher.
Anthony Hopkins won an Academy Award for Best Actor in one of the shortest screen times available. This incredible feat just underscores how brilliant his performance was. In spite of serving as a guide in Silence of the Lambs, the magnitude of his creepy presence and influence sent shock waves through the rest of the celluloid. His kingpin performance and method acting still ripple today and who can forget this mask to protect everyone from Hannibal the Cannibal.