Barton Fink

After watching The Sixth Sense and Memento, films which I believe try to be realistically convincing through their styles, I have come to terms with Barton Fink. Unlike the narratives of Memento and The Sixth Sense, which force the reader to rewatch or construct a convoulted fabula, Barton Fink is a style that requires the veiwer to watch without cynicism. After reading some of Leslie’s post the other day about Barton Fink, she states that people should understand what visual style they are watching within the first twenty minutes, and I agree with this comment. If one sits down to watch Barton Fink without some suspension of belief that certain scenes (John Goodman’s fire hall scene) are not physically possible, then some of the visual and emotional effects of the film are lost. One cannot watch Barton Fink with the same mindset as Memento or Sixth Sense, which require intense cooperation from the veiwer. Rather, the Cohn brothers want the veiwer to enjoy the narrative of Barton Fink, eventhough, there are exagerations and important information which is never exposed (is there a head in the box?).

I came to this conclusion after watching the film Forrest Gump the other day at my friend’s house. As soon as the movie started, all I could think about were the inexpicable accomplishments that Tom Hanks overcame and how they related to Barton Fink. One of the most obvious exaggerated scenes in Barton Fink has to be the hallway scene where John Goodman guns down to policemen. Not only does Goodman arrive in a fiery elevator, but as he runs down the hallway, the blaze moves simultaneously with his strides. This scene would be fighting terms for the meticulous veiwer because it does not seem real, it is too much of a coincidence. However, if that did not seem rediculous, then Goodman retires to his room after conversing with Fink, and the hotel is still on fire. Did he stay the night? How did Fink get out if the elevator was on fire? This type of scene mimics how Tom Hanks is able to become the first, mentally disabled, Division 1 football All American. I mean, come on, the scene where Gump takes a Rainman type left toward the sideline while returning a kickoff, before taking a Rainman type right to score a touchdown, does not resemble any of the football games I have ever seen. However, it adds to the tone and style of the movie. Similar to Barton Fink, the idea behind the narration is that narrators are going to tell a story that is entertaining, and may seem far fetched for the realist.  My new mindset is more open to Barton Fink because I have realized how the exaggerations add to the flavor or style of the film. I can feel John Goodman’s rage, and I can feel Fink’s anxiety when he wakes up next to the dead body of the woman he seduced the night before; how did this happen? However, who cares, it happened. Coming back to Leslie’s point, it is the mindset that allows one to perceive and enjoy the true nature of a film.       

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