Jacob's Ladder

Saturday, 12 July, Year 6 d.Tr. | Author: Mircea Popescu

This recensyi will completely ruin the filmii for you, so if you've not seen it and are looking for a call, my call is it's worth seeing, do that first and come back. Or I guess if you never intend to see it then by all means, proceed anyway.

The whole thing, all two hours of it, takes place in that short interval between a soldier being fatally wounded and that same soldier dying. During that time he dreams, as it were, two very concrete existences. One's his own life with some horsefaced blonde German woman, and her three kids, of which presumably the youngest is his. The level of subtle detail bundled in there is perhaps already apparent. The second existence is his own life with a very elastic young tigress, who is to be absolutely commended for her iconic relation with her own breasts. Never before and never since has an English speaking actress behaved so naturally, so sanely on the screen. You. People. Are. Nuts. Seriously.

The film works very well because you don't realise, nor is there very good reason for you to suspect, that the hallucinated existences are anything but actual reality, with a short intro flashback tacked on to inform the viewer of the hero's charged past. Much like the subject himself, you find yourself tempted to imagine that life's a flashback and the flashback actual life. Sound familiar ?

The film is excellent because of the subtle, Kafkaesque dosage of dissonance. Obviously one can't live two lives with two different women. Except, perhaps, in memory ? Except, perhaps, as the more determined, entrepreneurial of you actually are, or have ? Or will, perhaps ? Except all the fucking time, it's never ever done. And similarly, one can not see faces coming out of the walls. Except when waking up, or very tired, or a little drunk, or really scared, or going nuts, or every other time. To which add a super-meta-layer : once another bona fide actor declares he sees the same, you, as a viewer of the media in question have no way to discern in which way they're serious. Maybe this is becoming a film about UFOs now, and in the alternative-reality-of-the-film-as-reality-for-the-characters this is actual reality ? Or maybe in the same this is actually fiction, somehow ? One's hallucinating the other ? Well then which ?

The fact that Lyne and Robbins can keep the charade going - and going pleasantly, at that! - for almost two hours on the clock is nothing short of mastery. This is what making movies is all about, in my opinion, and definitely this should be studied in movie making class. This is what'd get the Oscars, if the Oscars were there to celebrate skill and accomplishment in the profession.

And so... yeah, well worth seeing. Aren't you glad you took heed up above ?

  1. It's really a pity that English has no equivalent of the Romanian recenzie, coming from the Latin recensio through the German Rezension ; that is to say a "prezentare succintă (la apariție) a unei opere literare sau științifice, cu comentarii și aprecieri critice", ie "succint discussion of a literary or scientific work, with commentary and critique".

    And no, it's not "review". A review, outside of the military sense, is a formal assessment or examination with a view towards instituting change. How very progressively parasitic of it! A recensy contemplates no change, and more importantly, it makes not the fundamental mistake of misrepresenting reality in terms of malfunctioning machinery, with its attendant recommendations for revision.

    This isn't the wonderful world of Ford and his deranged anglican pseudohumanism, a recensy merely puts a work in context. It is not oriented towards any goal, it merely flows from a cause. []

  2. Jacob's Ladder, 1990, by Adrian Lyne, with Tim Robbins (you know, for kids!) and Elizabeth Peña. []
Category: Trilematograf
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One Response

  1. Sampled in an old VNV Nation favorite.

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