Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The Big Sleep

In the ongoing quest to complete my father's list of "Best Movies (before 1980)" I watched "The Big Sleep" last night. Now one of the amazing things about watching good movies is that you can't really waste time, per se. Of course I had a essay to finish on Rousseau, but The Big Sleep is educational, and builds upon my liberal arts foundation. Rousseau can wait.

I did have an epiphany, however, about old detective movies. When I was younger I was so confused by old movies. How was it that even the lay blue collar workers could appreciate these subtle plots, and I, a MIRC, find myself so lost. After following the two hours of the movie I realized that the plot is not supposed to be followed. Yes, the plot is contiguous, but that is not the important part. Bogey and Bacall are what you are watching the movie for (among others such as Martha Vickers, Dorothy Malone, and Peggy Knudsen). Their personality and exchanges are wonderful, a chemistry that may never be matched again. The plot is just a device to advance the Bogey and Bacall dynamic. The plot is so convoluted because it wants you to ignore it.

While I think this is a clever insight, I actually think it is backed up by the "text." In the out-takes they showed, the dub-over spoke about how scenes, which would have made the movie more understandable, were taken out. Why would you want to make the movie even more confusing?! Just like a Coen Bro. movie, the characters are what matter, if the plot is too good or profound, you might get distracted from Bogey, Bacall or Buscemi.

3 comments:

Jesse A. said...

An interesting story about the production of the movie, which supports your point that the plot is not the central point is the death of the chauffer, Owen Taylor. In the original novel, his murder is never solved. Howard Hawks called up Raymond Chandler, the author, and asked him "Who killed Owen Taylor?" His response was, "Who cares?" Hawks kept the murder unresolved in the movie as well.

Adam said...

I have a question zev. So normal people who "know" hebrew and english, translate biblical stuff according to the hebrew they know, i.e. modern hebrew, which sometimes produces an incorrect translation. Have you heard of anyone studying how normal ppl's understanding of the bible has changed as a result of ben yehuda's modern hebrew?

Oren Bassik said...

Adam, call me sometime if you still want to move to NY.

Esp if you think you want that teaching gig, I'll have to talk you out of that.

I used to have a bunch of funny stories which center around that, all involving my Dad, who is Israeli and thinks he knows Hebrew better than G-d. I unfortunately don't remember any of them.