Tuesday, January 21, 2003

the long weekend

Monday: music. writing. Stagecoach
Sunday: music. reading. LOTR: Behind the Scenes: Disk I. Atrociously offensive mushy tripe -- a French film called The Eighth Day. Dinner with old friends.
Saturday: LOTR (still rocks). Shorts. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance {personal doubt: Who really shot Liberty Valance?}
Friday: Zyka. Clapton {461 Ocean Boulevard, Behind The Sun}. only this and nothing more.

Footnote on The Eighth Day: The leads in this French Rain Man, Daniel Auteuil and Pascal Duquenne shared the Acting Honours at Cannes 1996. To quote Claude Rains, I'm shocked! Shocked! Things like this make me wonder if I'm missing the obvious point in a lot of films I watch. Do I expect a film to be more than simple and straight-forward? I remember appreciating the intercutting of the lives of the two protagonists foreshadowing their inevitable encounter and the use of rather conventional filmic devices in contrasting Harry's (Auteuil) unhappy family life hidden away behind a mask of faux confidence. {Jan 25, 2003}

Liberty Valance: Part of John Ford's ouevre during his pessimistic view of the "fake West" invented by Hollywood, the film is riddled with too many obvious gaffes. The runner-up in my top two gaffes is in the reverse shot during the climactic political rally. The opposing parties switch sides, something that sticks out like an elephant's backside. The winner is a gaffe that can trigger interesting critical debate on "who really shot Liberty Valance". During the climactic rally, Tom Doniphon tells Ransom that it was he and not Ransom who shot Liberty Valance. Ford uses a flashback to the shooting to tell us this. The flashback runs from a different perspective: that of Tom and Pompey. The flashback and the actual event seem to have been shot at different times, because (thanks to DVD technology) it is clear that Ransom's bullet hits Liberty first, throwing him back (physics verifies the source of the bullet) and killing him. If you believe the flashback with the gaffe, the most famous line of the film "This is the West Sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend" takes on interesting meanings. I got hold of Dorothy M Johnson's original short story on which the film is based, and that testifies to Ford's original intent: Tom Doniphon did indeed kill Valance (the short story has interesting differences from the film: Ransom is more arrogant and over-confident of himself; Tom and Ransom hate each other's guts a whole lot more; Tom's revelation comes shortly after Ranse recovers and a while before Ranse's political career takes off).

No comments:

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.