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Thursday, November 27th, 2008

O Lucky Man!

This is a great movie. I'm going to need to watch it another time or two before I can really comment on it with much understanding. My initial reaction is that it's sort of like watching dada sketch comedy -- there must be good ideas in here for 5 or 6 movies, thrown together in an utterly reckless way. It would be so easy for it to suck -- but somehow it's wonderful.

Malcolm McDowell wrote the screenplay (at least he said he did in the fine documentary O Lucky Malcolm!, which comes with the DVD; he is not credited as the writer) and acts lead, and is just a trip to watch. I was surprised while watching the documentary to realize that I haven't seen any of the huge majority of his films that he's done since 1982.

posted evening of November 27th, 2008: Respond
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Friday, November 28th, 2008

Confused reading

Watching O Lucky Man last night reminded me in a couple of ways of reading Gravity's Rainbow. Now I've certainly been known to make spurious comparisons of various works of art to Pynchon; but I think this one stands up. What I'm getting at (beyond Travis' obvious points of resemblance to Tyrone Slothrop) is, the points where the sheer artistry of the medium -- the prose in GR, the images and soundtrack in O Lucky Man! -- overwhelms my ability to follow the narrative and I find I'm just basking in the beauty flowing by. And need to go back and reread to figure out what was going on. If all goes according to plan I will watch it again tonight...

I haven't talked about the music yet, just want to note that it's utterly delightful and makes me want to listen to more Alan Price and more Animals, of whom all I really know is their big hits. Also Anderson's use of ambient noise just about took my breath away. This is one of the best soundtracks ever.

posted morning of November 28th, 2008: Respond
➳ More posts about Thomas Pynchon

Identifying with Travis

Here is what I am thinking about the main character of O Lucky Man!: the viewer is compelled to identify with him, to feel paranoid on his behalf. The mechanism for this, the driving force, is Travis' lack of self-consciousness. He moves through the world without putting together the strands of paranoia that are the fabric of the movie -- not exactly naïve; but unable to grasp how everything that happens in the world of the movie is directed at him. This is a little difficult for me to express:

  1. A working definition of paranoia as the belief that everything that happens to you is connected and happens because of its effect on you.
  2. Travis is the main character of this movie; and everything that happens in the movie happens because of its effect on him. Everything that happens in the movie is connected by virtue of being part of the same script. If Travis realized this -- if he realized he were a character in the movie -- he would be paranoid.
  3. But he does not -- so you the viewer, as you get the levels of connection and of conspiracy against him, have to assume the role of his ego

This line of thinking needs some work. But it seems promising; it highlights how the experience of enjoying the narrative involves identifying with the main character as a key element, and starts working towards a mechanism for this process of identification.

posted evening of November 28th, 2008: Respond

Sunday, April 19th, 2009

Happy Birthday, Alan!

At The Song in My Head Today, Holly is thinking about Alan Price's "O Lucky Man!", on the occasion of Price's 67th birthday. A fine song to have in one's head:

posted afternoon of April 19th, 2009: Respond
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