I’m never going to be a judge (like you)

This post is about the Dredd’s ending: so big spoilers.

I thought last night that I probably don’t have much that I am able to say about Dredd. But then, H questioned why Anderson gets shot in the final confrontation with Ma-Ma, putting her out of the action. If you accept that Dredd the movie is actually about Dredd the character, it makes sense – the final confrontation has to be between Dredd and Ma-Ma. But we all know Anderson is the main character. So, why?

L postulated it was just a cap to the whole ‘whole trial by fire’ thing. But I’ve been thinking about it, and that’s not it. Anderson doesn’t participate in this scene, no. But she is observing it – the camera cuts back to her so we know for sure she’s observing it.

And this is the one scene where Dredd does something nasty just because he can. He gives Ma-Ma the slo-mo before he pushes her out the window, and action which is not justified under the law, even if her death it.

And Anderson is watching this. She cannot question or stop it, but she is watching it, and she is drawing her own conclusions.

The film asks two questions. One is – the obvious one – is ‘Is Anderson capable of being a judge?’ This is the question the Chief Judge is asking Judge Dredd when she assigns Anderson to him. Dredd is observing Anderson in order to answer this question.

But Anderson is also observing Dredd; the film also asks, ‘What kind of a judge does Anderson want to be?’

And the answer is: not Dredd’s kind of judge. Dredd’s observations lead him to come to respect Anderson. Anderson’s observations lead her to conclude that she doesn’t want to be anything like Dredd.

That’s why Anderson only watches the final scene. Her story isn’t about defeating Ma-Ma – the options she presents to Dredd earlier are to run or hide, not to confront Ma-Ma. Her story is about deciding who she wants to be. And that story is stronger by presenting Ma-Ma’s death as something she can only watch, rather than as something she participates in.

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