Sunday, October 31, 2004

Michael Cimino is an Idiot.


“My movie is basically about friendship and courage and what happens to these qualities under stress… The war is really incidental to the development of the characters and their story… It’s part of their lives and just that, nothing more. So, the war is simply a means of testing their courage and will power. It could be any war except that it’s a film of a certain age taking part in a war of their generation that doesn’t happen to be either the Civil War, World War II, or Korea.” - Michael Cimino

The above is quoted from the “Film Notes” extra-feature on the DVD of Michael Cimino’s wonderful movie The Deer Hunter. This, my friends, is why an artist of any medium should never be interviewed about what he or she wanted the work to do (or even thinks the work does). Seriously though, does Mr. Cimino really believe that his movie is a film that is simply about “friends and courage and what happens to these qualities under stress”? I mean, shit: “stress”?! Does he really fucking believe that fighting in a ruthless war and being forced to play Russian roulette while imprisoned by a handful of absolutely heartless North Vietnamese soldiers is defined by the oh-so-lofty and eloquent term “stress”? I mean, dude, don’t you think you should consider using a word with a little bit more weight? Are the atrocities of war and the resulting psychological mind-fuck left behind from witnessing (and often even taking part in) these atrocities really encapsulated by the word “stress”? Sure, the movie is about “friendship and courage” and perhaps I’m harping on a detail that isn’t really that important, but I’ll be damned if “The Deer Hunter” is just a movie about how “stress” affects people and their relationships with each other.

Likewise, Mr. Cimino’s notion that the war is simply “incidental to the development of the characters and their story” is equally as ridiculous. The war may just be a “part of [the characters’] lives,” but the war certainly is not simply supplementary or “incidental.” It is absolutely the primary driving force of the movie. The war IS the movie. After all, the war is what gives the movie its central narrative strand and it affects every single character in the film. Perhaps “it could be any war,” but again, Mr. Cimino is off-base in suggesting that the war somehow takes a backseat to the themes of courage and friendship and will power. And frankly, I find the idea that the war is simply “incidental to the development” of the movie to be quite a fucking offensive one. Certainly, Mr. Cimino probably just wants to believe that his movie is only all about “humanity” and “being human” and “humanness” and “mortality” and “friendship” and other softhands shit. But it’s not. It’s fucking not. It fucking can’t be.

Like it or not, Mr. Cimino, your movie is primarily about war and its effects. And, like it or not, war isn’t and perhaps can’t really ever be simply “incidental.” And perhaps additionally, to treat war as simply being “incidental”—simply a supplementary narrative tool—is to fail to consider seriously the scope of war’s effects. Lucky for Mr. Cimino, his movie itself recognizes the scope of war, even if he is incapable of seeing that.

And perhaps as a bit of a conclusion, I’ll leave you with this little anecdote I heard about the wonderful author Flannery O’Connor. I once heard that she was asked how one of her character’s hat and jacket were symbolic or important in one of her stories. She replied (in jest, of course), “Well, the hat is important to keep the man’s head warm, and the jacket was important to keep his body warm.”

So, let this be a listen to you all. Don’t talk about your art. You’re going to sound like an idiot and, in turn, convince people that you accidentally made a brilliant work.


At 10:43 PM, Blogger SergDun said...

you're so racist


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