Sunday, November 13, 2005

review of 'history of violence' by mrzine editress

Thomas Seay wrote: I entertain the notion that the collapse of the Frontier, and its consequent internalization into people's inner lives, is the recurring theme in David Lynch's work.

Zachary wrote:
> >Hmmm, yes, I can see that. In his work, the promise
> >that capitalism, especially US capitalism, has always
> >held up clashes (more and more) with reality. This is
> >especially apparent in Mulholland Drive, where the
> >dream world seems to initially offer respite from
> >reality but eventually even that gets invaded. Death
> >is the only sanctuary from it all.

> Didn't Lynch support Reagan?
> Doug

Well, there is always David Cronenberg -- who is clearly more talented than David Lynch -- for leftists with a fetish for having mind and flesh invaded by all manner of things.

Cronenberg's latest, A History of Violence, is a fine deconstruction of the Western and film noir in his "realist" turn. In a feminist twist of film noir, in this film it is a man, not a woman, who has "the past," The past that the man, well played by Viggo Mortensen, thought he left behind in the East catches up with him in the West. The past in question is a history of violence, his service as a violent foot soldier for a gangster capitalist (who happens to be his brother). To defend his family and home from the long arms of the gangster capitalist, however, he ends up resurrecting an extremely efficient killing machine that he once was and finds himself at odds with his wife and teenage son, who feel betrayed by his secrecy and abhor the newly resurrected violent masculinity in him (which begins to bleed into his sex with his wife), though they love one another. The man overcomes the gangster capitalist's underlings in the West (and in the process makes his son an accomplice in giolence) and the capitalist himself in the East. Then, he comes back home. The film's ending is a tense and ambiguous scene of homecoming. His wife, son, and daughter are at dinner table. When he comes in, there is silence. After a moment that feels longer than it is, his daughter (who is too young to fully understand the meaning of trust and betrayal) makes place for him at the table. He and his wife look into each other's eyes, wordlessly, as she passes a plate to him. Fade to black.

A History of Violence has no explicit reference to the Iraq War. But you keep thinking about it, as you watch the film. There must be many homes where soldiers' homecomings are as fraught as the protagonist's in A History of Violence. Divorces are up in the military. The violent past cannot be buried and forgotten, nor can the home and hometown be insulated from the violent "outside," as the protagonist thought they could. The history of violence must be dealt with. But how? The film does not seek to answer that -- it wants the audience to think about it.

Yoshie Furuhashi
* Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: