Posts Tagged ‘Barton Fink’
In response to Richard Barsam’s Looking at Movies seventh chapter on sound:
I find the idea of silence equally as important and perhaps even more so than sound. We have been conditioned to accept that the transitions and contrasts?of sound certainly create a sense of drama, and?so much is said too in the space of silence. While I realize this has more to do with music than film, listening to Ani DiFranco in my 20′s is what first alerted me to the importance of both sound and silence. I never much thought about it prior.
On her?1990 album, Not So Soft, the tune “Every Angle” incorporates sound in a way that moves beyond the music itself and into the audience’s imagination via the story.
i’m imagining your laugh again
the one you save for your family
and your very
i’m imagining the way you say my name
i don’t know when
i’m going to hear it again
my friends can’t tell
my laughter from my cries
someone tell this photograph of you
to let go of my eyes
The question: Substance abuse… Writing fuel or writing substitute?
I say fuel.
Granted, the stigma of alcoholism and addiction adheres itself to the stereotype of writers. What drunks! What freaks! What introverts plagued by the pain and suffering of their own humanity! Sure, we?ve had a few of these throughout history. But really, doesn?t Poe?s addiction produce some amazing literary results? Writers, often referred to as seers, don?t necessarily like what they see. To observe the human condition at a deeply personal level can produce extreme depression, particularly when the writer sees no way out of the social confines that trap him or her. Think Oscar in?Wilde. Addiction, even when detrimental love is the drug of choice, becomes the fuel used to examine the world around him. Narrative requires conflict, and those who are deeply conflicted have a great deal of material to work with.
In the Woody Allen and Douglas McGrath 1995 film, Bullets over Broadway, fictional playwright David Shayne (John Cusack) is on par with fictional playwright turned screenwriter Barton Fink (John Turturro) in the Coen brothers? 1991 film of the same name, Barton Fink. Each character is conflicted by the stereotypical questions that face all authors, such as:
? From where, what or whom does inspiration come?
? What constitutes art, one creator?s original idea or collaboration?
? What is the value of art or artist and how is that value recognized?
? In what ways does the art belong to the author as well as the audience?
? At which point does that private to public transference take place when dictated by capitalism?
? Does this transference to the public realm devalue the art, the artist, both or neither?
What makes each character?s experience realistic in both films is the fact that their moral and ethical struggles in relation to the convergence of idealistic art and life?s monetary motivation are born out of authentic human experience.
The audience is left to believe certain conventions about the life of writers in films like John Madden?s Shakespeare in Love, James Lapine?s Impromptu and Brian Gilbert?s Wilde. There is often a love interest, one that inspires passion and thus story (or, as in the case of Oscar Wilde, self awareness), yet this passion tends to reside outside the institution of marriage. The writing is always done?following the passionate living that inspires it ?and this passion must include sex. We see art written for the solicitation of money rather the romantic notion of art for art?s sake. To be productive, a personal, quiet space (often in the country) is necessary but an artistic community is also essential for inspiration and critique. And, of course, every writer does the bulk of his or her writing through the far more boring process of revision, which is sometimes portrayed and sometimes simply referred to. Success comes when art imitates life and life is worthy of such imitation. Each of these conventions, or some variation on them, are also incorporated into the fictional authors in the Coen Brothers? 1991 film, Barton Fink.