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Barton Fink

Discussion in 'Movies' started by BrettB, Jun 27, 2003.

  1. BrettB

    BrettB Producer

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    Alright, I need some help with this film. :b At first I was thinking Barton was OK until he went to Hollywood. But if the detectives are representative of Barton's guilty conscious it occurs to me that they mentioned other murders (can't remember the details) that would have occured before he went to Hollywood. Do I need to go back and watch that scene again?
     
  2. Seth Paxton

    Seth Paxton Lead Actor

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    Ummm, Barton didn't kill anyone, his neighbor did (Goodman), including Barton's love interest. I believe in the film that Goodman also says something about the noisy lovemakers on the other side or above his room that we might also suspect were killed. I think it implies that he heard Barton and the girl which was a motivation for murder.

    Unless, of course, you are interpreting Goodman's Meadows as just being a manifestation of Barton's own violent subconsious. Considering the oddity of the film and the fiery end I can see such a metaphorical view, but I have always viewed at least most of the narrative as literal, at least on the surface.
     
  3. BrettB

    BrettB Producer

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    Yeah, sort of. I'm an extremely left-brain sort so to go out of my way looking for metaphor and such is quite odd but the conflagration scene set off warning bells. [​IMG]

    I'm still working through it but right now I'm thinking Meadows and the detectives weren't real, only creations of Barton's failing mind.

    I'm thinking Meadows represented the unwashed masses that Fink claimed to admire and love but actually loathed. I think he also sort of represented short bursts of sanity, hope, a way out. Meadows tries to help Fink from the beginning but Fink will have none of it.

    Just tell me I'm over-thinking this and I'll shut up. [​IMG]
     
  4. TheLongshot

    TheLongshot Producer

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    I always thought they were going to the metaphor that Hollywood was Hell, but that's just me. [​IMG]

    Jason
     
  5. Mark Turetsky

    Mark Turetsky Supporting Actor

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    I tend to fall into the "sometimes a cigar is just a cigar" category when it comes to the plot of this movie. I don't think Barton's a psychotic schitzophrenic (or whatever the specific mental conditions he would have to be in). Though I do think that on a thematic level, a lot of these metaphors are present. Yes, the detectives represent a guilty conscience (heck, he doesn't need to have killed anyone to have that, waking up to a bloody dead corpse is enough to cast yourself into some weird emotional states), but to say that they are a manifestation of them on a purely delusional level is going a bit far.
    Anyway, if you're interested in exploring Barton Fink, you should check out the plays of Clifford Odets, upon whom the character of Barton Fink is based (read The Big Knife to see Odets' views on Hollywood) and the works of Faulkner, upon whom W.P. Mayhew is based. Barton Fink is a very literate movie. You might also want to read "The Fervent Years" by Harold Clurman on the work of the Group Theater, of which Odets was a part (as well as many other famous theater names like Lee Strasberg, Stella Adler, Elia Kazan, Sanford Meisner and many others).
    [​IMG]
     
  6. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

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    I'm really struggling with this- as it seemed obvious that they were making a statement on the writer's experience in Hollywood- and the entire film was a metaphor. I think given the backdrop under which the script was created-- coupled with the surreal nature and the endless hell, purgatory, man trapped in his own mind symbols--- I can't see this film as anything but a giant set of symbols and metaphor representing the "creative mind" and the struggle in Hollywood- even to the point of being self aware by making Barton a self-important hack.

    I don't think any of the cigars in this film were cigars.


    I'm surprised to see there wasnt more discussion on this film here- my searching turned up only this thread...
     
  7. Richard Kim

    Richard Kim Producer

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    I thought that at the end of the film, Barton still has writer's block, sitting at his typewriter unable to finish his script, symbolized by Barton encountering the bathing beauty that's identical to the one in the picture he's staring at. Meadows/Mundt, the murders, etc. I believe didn't really happen, except in his head.
     
  8. Christ Reynolds

    Christ Reynolds Producer

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    i'm with vince all the way. and it is a shame that more people do not discuss this movie here. one of the true modern gems, it goes overlooked too often.

    CJ
     
  9. Seth Paxton

    Seth Paxton Lead Actor

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    Well, we should probably widen it to cover the Coens in general since a lot of similar imagery shows up in other films. Raising Arizona has the biker bounty hunter who certainly seems far removed from reality, though the film itelf is taken on the narrative level to be literate.


    And of course that is something to keep in mind. There is the metaphorical within the diegetic world, ie things being shown aren't really happening, and then there is the bizarre narrative in which the diegetic is real but the characters and actions are meant to be highly metaphorical.

    Think of Gulliver's Travels for example, or Frankenstein, or especially many German children's fables like Hansel and Gretel, etc. Such stories package social commentary WITHIN the narrative, but the narrative itself still "exists" in as much as the story is really happening as it is presented.

    I consider that different than a film like Fight Club.

    Alice in Wonderland and Wizard of Oz sort of bridge the gap. It is all a dream but for the most part the narrative is meant to be taken as it is, actions really are occuring while the social commentary is buried as allegory, and not all that deeply in Wonderland. [​IMG]


    So when I read Fink as literate that doesn't disallow for bizarre actions nor for symbolism. It just means that the symbolic characters don't have to be symbolic to other characters WITHIN the film (Goodman as Fink's conscious/vengence/whatever) since they can simply be symbolic to the audience (Goodman as the representation of the common man fitting with the overall allegory being presented).


    And all of that doesn't mean that I dismiss your viewpoint, Vince. You make a lot of sense. I just don't think that some of the actions inherently mean that its all in Barton's head, or is to some extent. Maybe they are, or maybe the Coens just have a penchant for certain symbolism that keeps popping up in their films as character types, character interaction, and action within the film.

    Dickens used real stories and packaged his commentary on the industrial revolution by having the same types of oppressed characters put upon by the same types of bureaucracy, industry, and corrupt dictator characters. Scrooge is really visited by ghosts but at the same time Dickens is commenting on the false promise of industry and how it would bring about eventual ruin in the future (ie, Scrooge sees his own death).
     

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