This concerns myths and the door that stands between them and reality. I think I’ve figured something out for myself. Maybe you will agree with me, my faithful reader? Quentin Tarantino, one of the modern mythmakers, and very successful at it, has taught me something, or at least, given me to thinking more on the violence in our schools that is growing exponentially and making the Evening News, a compendium of reality, more and more sickening.
Thinking of the myths, and I often do because I like to write (exercise my imagination), it occurs to me that a great mythical film Django Unchained which I watched with enjoyment and excitement, clearly displays the machinery running the genre as clearly as anything written by Wagner or Tolkien or Rowling. Like the inside of a Swiss watch movement, we can see the blood and guts (couldn’t help this) of what makes mythology so entertaining, and often mind-blowing. Like Hitler, and other psychopaths who self-destruct taking others with them, killers today have not learned the difference between myth and reality, and do not know history. I admit my psych prof in college simply read the text to us in class; therefore, it has taken me a long time to figure some things out. Perhaps the kids who kill do not see the door between fantasy and reality and have never been taught or are not smart enough to realize there are two worlds that should not collide and who do not know the difference between virtual reality and reality. A normal thinking person can dream dreams asleep or awake and still get up and go to work– determined to function in the real world as a real human being.
Django Unchained the myth as subject here, momentarily, satisfies the anger and desire to expunge the injustice and racial hatred, the machinery that drove slavery while in real life we know that there is nothing that can really change the past. In the film the mythical Django Freeman rights all wrongs with a third act of Gotterdammerung violence one can hardly watch. Tarantino forces us to come to the conclusion in order to purge our collective imagination and to instill pride that was unreachable for the majority of slaves in real history, and we can thrill to this for two hours plus. This is myth-making at its best. How can a ten or twelve-year-old know this thrill is about pride when he has not even begun to live in real history? The ticking of this particular cinematic watch is only about killing people, in this case all the white people and not about the real history of slavery and the Civil War; a kid only hears the noise and is disturbed by the blasting conclusion, a kid who only sees revenge and justice in gunplay. As if by killing something or someone we can erase what is. or was.
If we cannot keep those without the ability to open and close the door between reality and fantasy from their tragic destructive power then we must find a way to deal with the situation. Or continue to see the explosion of murder among the young. So what to do about each thinking parent’s fear of sending kids to school each morning?
Perhaps it is about teaching after all? or the lack of it. perhaps we need to stop talking about mental illness in children and begin to face the fact that numbers are rising rapidly in illnesses our grandparents never heard of. It is the family we must look at, and not the stories written for sheer entertainment. Fantasy is in the DNA somewhere and great myths touch it with universal recognition. They say if we cannot dream we die. We admit films are dreams, some nightmares, some lucid dreaming and some we want to forget quickly, some become classic oldies. The very word film says it all. Adults who are sane know unreal stories are fantasized into being by real people who busy themselves making watch works…uh no.. putting dreams on paper for all of us who need to get away from our reality now and again. Nobody could live all the time in a theatre. (The Phantom of the Opera is fiction.) Django Unchained is a release. It has much of the known myths and stereotypes we wish were true: a man from Germany is a cold killer with a sometimes-warm heart, (a twist on the dance hall girl with a heart of gold) a man loves his wife enough to risk torture and death to save her, (most classic cowboy movies from the 70s) and, of course, anyone who is comfortable with slave-holding is mowed down brutally. If we know the Nordic myths and the Ring Cycle, we can see the cleverness in this story with its rewoven themes (even the variant on the name Brunhilde) and reworked landscape with all its brilliant violence because someone has taught us that this kind of legend-making can touch the national psyche and act as a psychic cleansing, a purging that will release us into the reality of brushing our teeth, dressing for work and dealing with the thousand shocks that flesh is heir to, and the contumely of everyday reality where we, hopefully, never run into people like the ones we meet onscreen in the darkness of a shared dream or Netflix. Think about the difference between fantasy and reality. You wouldn’t go to Hamlet for advice.
There are many reasons not to move away from Hollywood, like Michelli’s cozy little Italian restaurant with singing waiters and live piano players, and the two hour tour bus rides that drive around Beverly Hills for much less than a taxi, and best of all, Edmond’s Bookstore, an old icon with everything Hollywood from biographies, slick picture books on the great and not so great movie stars from Harlow to Judy Garland and Dorothy Lamour paper dolls, and there’s Musso and Franks where you can sit in the booth that once held Charlie Chaplin and Orson Welles and John Barrymore (not at the same time; today you need a party of three to reserve it.) And, then there are the movie theatres. I admit when I moved here from a city where the multiplexes were sticky from gum and coke on the floors, I guiltily picked up a dropped piece of popcorn because the place was spotless. it must have been wonderful to have been a kid here in the old days, and it still is. The best time to see a new movie is a Sunday afternoon on Hollywood Blvd. with all the tourists in the Tee shirt souvenir shops, nobody is in the grand palace upstairs. I have often sat with three others at the most at a matinee in the comfortable almost new multiplex. A short walk from my place takes me to the ornate Disney’s El Capitan, The commodious Arclight,
and the (formerly Mann’s Chinese Theater) TLC Theatre with Imax (owned by a real Chinese company.) Irony!
How I love this place! Tinsel and all. I enjoyed Tarantino’s western, and say Bravo for creating a new classic take on our western fantasy meets national guilt. And now to the dishes in my sink.
Check out the art on this site by Otis Bardwell. His “troll” or? is pure imagination, but he grows on one. Beautifully framed, this large original art is going for 450 framed and shipping/handling on me. Going…going….Great for over your TV.