Thursday, April 20, 2006

Guest Blogger Jake Barnes: Ode to True Romance

V Note: For your afternoon reading pleasure, here is another post by new guest blogger Jake Barnes.

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You mostly remember that theme song. You know it...light xylophone playing an inescapable happy beat. You remember Alabama's adorable confession to Clarence after she reveals that she's a prostitute:

Please shut up! I'm trying to come clean, okay? I've been a call-girl for exactly four days and you're my third customer. I want you to know that I'm not damaged goods. I'm not what they call Florida white trash. I'm a good person and when it comes to relationships, I'm one-hundred percent, I'm one hundred percent... monogamous.

Of course you remember Christopher Walken's astonishing cameo as the Sicilian gangster, Vincenzio. Here he explains Sicilian's strongest characteristic:

Sicilians are great liars. The best in the world. I'm Sicilian. My father was the world heavy-weight champion of Sicilian liars.

But my point is more than expressing an undying love for True Romance, though it is a wonderful movie. It's more about why people, especially young people, seem to love this movie so much. And I think it comes down to this: True Romance is a modern-day fairy tale. Sweetness pervades scenes of absolute horror and this speaks to us in a way nothing else can.

Movies like Pulp Fiction and Matrix contain the viciousness of True Romance. And we love those movies, but they miss something. It's not something that is cool, but it is something just a little cheesy and very sweet. It is the notion that hope and love can be found in the worst of situations. Alabama explains this feeling wonderfully in the film's final narration:

Amid the chaos of that day, when all I could hear was the thunder of gunshots, and all I could smell was the violence in the air, I look back and am amazed that my thoughts were so clear and true, that three words went through my mind endlessly, repeating themselves like a broken record: you're so cool, you're so cool, you're so cool.

At this point Alabama's feelings are sweet, but perhaps unrealistic and glorified. To the film's credit, however, Alabama continues:

And sometimes Clarence asks me what I would have done if he had died, if that bullet had been two inches more to the left. To this, I always smile, as if I'm not going to satisfy him with a response. But I always do. I tell him of how I would want to die, but that the anguish and the want of death would fade like the stars at dawn, and that things would be much as they are now. Perhaps. Except maybe I wouldn't have named our son Elvis.

It is in this final line that the dichotomy of the film's message is elegantly realized. It does not compromise. Alabama recognizes that, unpleasant as it is to admit, life goes on even after the loss of a loved one.

I think this is why a movie like True Romance catches on with college students--it is at that age when we realize who we are: selfish, isolated individuals in a world full of violence and pain. But like Alabama, we recognize that small and seemingly insignificant events and people along the way can provide an underlying sweetness that we all desperately desire.

5 Comments:

Blogger KTS said...

brilliant. brilliant guest post. i think this new corporate lawyer guest-blogging shit is on to something.

how much do i love this? how much? i dont know, but it's a fucking lot.

i mean, i know it's pretty but it aint as pretty as a pair of titties.

and yeah, i know that theme song's now played for at*t commercials, but the commodification of dissent was addressed in yr prior post i think.

by the way is v for violence? victory? vashti bunyan? damon runyan?

elvis always liked you, Clarence. always has. always will.

3:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Off topic but I finally watched all of Showgirls last night for the first time thanks to this blog. No wait I am not thanking it at all.

7:42 PM  
Blogger V said...

K: Oh, wow. Thanks for stopping by, I didn't know you were into the blog thang.

Anon: You should be kissing my sweet ass, tell me you didn't watch it on TBS or something. You have to get the X rated cut or nothing.

9:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The thoughts of that horse face with all the makeup caked on combined with bare breasts and more just might force me to rent the X version then.

10:59 AM  
Blogger averagedrinker said...

you can't blame liars.they find happiness and complete utter satisfaction in telling lies. men are total liers, if you notice. men who may be your close familiy members or relatives may not affect you so much if they lie but men you find in your social circle affect you so much, right? i dated a guy on webdate who was just the total liar. i got hold of him for pretty much about a year. then after a year of total blindness and hurting words from my friends, i finally kicked him out of my life.

10:27 AM  

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