Dr. Kate Liu, Dr. Wen-chi Lin
Journal on Film
June 8. 2000
Hope, It Never Gives Up
Have studied these film so far, we also had discussed many issues especially issue of identity. There is one issue I am always very interested in, but we did not have many chances to develop it, a slight touch only. So, I would like to bring up the topic about hope to see how this idea has been treated especially in their endings of some films that we studied this semester.
In Altman's The Player, I want to focus on the possibility of a narrative form of anti-Hollywood, and I want to emphasize on the film within-film. The first film is the film that Tim Robins is responsible for making one, and at the end, he does make a one cast by big stars--he compromises. The second one is cast by Tim Robins (as a producer). He confronts a danger to get himself involved to become one character in his real life. Finally, at the very end of this film, Tim Robin indeed becomes the character in the story that mentioned through his conversation on the phone. At this moment, we are watching another film, which is The Player. In these regards, there are at least three films in this film, decided by the position of viewers. The narrative form of The Player is rare to see in today's Hollywood movies. Keeping inventioning is the hope for the film makers to fight against the studio and against the Hollywood classical narration.
In Lynch's Blue Velvet, the songs are appealing to me very much. It is undoubtedly that a strange world is presented. At the end, this film shows us a harmonious and peaceful picture of Jeffrey's family--his father is recovered from a stroke and Jeffrey ends with his special experiences with Frank. If we take two female characters' viewpoints, this world has turned out to be a bright side. For Sandy, her romantic relationship comes out a good result. She fulfills her dream to be together with Jeffrey. For Dorothy, she finally gets away from Frank's control and plays with her son in a park with a hymn like song sung by a group of children. The ending provides a confusing hope by adding another song singing "I still can see blue velvet through my tears." "Blue velvet" is very ambiguous to be interpreted. I choose a positive to point out the anticipation does not diminished in a miserable or unfortunate situation. The old value still has its value for people in their later life. The significance of good things for people will not be changed even in a strange day.
In Egoyan's Calendar, hope is observed from the absence of Atom Egoyan not answering his wife's telephone. His absence could indicate to many situations, but the situation I want to focus on is that he goes out the room finally. The settings of this film have a vivid contrast. When they are in Armania there is always an open space. When we can only hear Egoyan's voice and watch his date, there is always taking place indoors. We have a transition from outdoors to indoors, then to outdoors again by the final shot that the focus pans on road on a moving vehicle. "Movement" is brought back at the end. Egoyan no longer locks himself home, and he finally crosses over the boundary and confinement of the walls of his house and of his mind. He finds a way out for his relationship with people and with his ex-wife, as if he is going to embrace his new life and start a new identity.
In Scott's Blade Runner, I am particularly interesting in the two versions of the ending cut. According to the director's cut, this film should be ended up with a suspense when Deckard takes Rachael with him getting out of the building, and some reviewers regard this ending as a beginning for the futuristic adventure. Another ending is Deckard and Rachael drive a car away with Deckard's background voice telling that he know has a short longevity than Rachael. Together with two symbols for hope, one is unicorn and another is dove, both endings and both symbols could lead to a future view with a hope. I don't deny any irony or negative interpretations, but here I only want to reinforce the possibilities for getting a better life also have been suggested. Some things unknown usually also indicates some things possible. Both endings actually do not give a clear picture of this couple's life in the future. It is an open ending left it audience as Calendar did. Two characters are leaving for somewhere to start their new life. The idea of traveling is also conveyed in both films.
Over viewing these four films, I do not try to deny the hopelessness in them or other interpretations, which I actually could agree with more. Rather, when we focus on the deconstruction of hope, hope is there indeed. I agree with many critics' observation about that the postmodern world is a world of heteroglossia. On the other hand, I found it is intriguing that where there is heteroglossia, there must be an authority. And hope is the authority I try to build up here. In addition, I want to mention a film that we did not include in this course for discussion, and this film I am personally very fond of it is Strange Days.
In one of our assigned article, this film is once mentioned, but I would like to point out the idea of "Faith" in accord with my topic here. Faith is not only the name of the protagonist's ex-girl friend's name, it also suggests this protagonist's faith in their love, their old happy days through a high-tech head set to replay the tapes for remembering. Later the protagonist finally finds out some secret about why Faith leaves him away. In Strange Days performance, old happy day, a transition point for new opportunities for the future are the factors have me find the corresponding parts in above four films.