terça-feira, 20 de dezembro de 2011

For better or worse, Cimino has in abundance the quality Scorsese largely lacks: idealism and the will to believe—a rare (unique?) quality in modern Hollywood cinema, with which the knowing pseudo-innocence of a Spielberg or a Lucas should never be confused. Scorsese’s intelligent skepticism produces a figure who fuses the western hero with the horror film monster in the context of urban film noir; Cimino’s idealism produces a lament for a figure contemporary civilization has rendered obsolete but to which is still attributed a nobility and purity. If Travis Bickle derives primarily from the Wayne of The Searchers (the hero as near-psychopath is not an invention of the 70s), Mike relates rather to the Wayne of Rio Bravo, in his moral infallibility, both its grandeur and its human disadvantages.

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The parallel with Rio Bravo can be developed further. Both films are built upon the relationship between the strong, morally infallible hero and the weaker man whom he strives to save, both by example and direct intervention. In both, the director’s commitment to the strong character is scarcely in question; yet the films’ complexity arises partly from the way in which the weak character is used subtly to comment upon the strong one, consistently exposing the latter’s limitations. Hawks admitted that Rio Bravo was really Dean Martin’s film; a similar case can be made for suggesting that The Deer Hunter is really Christopher Walken’s, and Cimino might be taken as confirming this by having Walken appear first in the retrospective end credits, his image summoned up by the final toast “to Nick” and the intercut shots of Mike and Linda, the two people who loved him. This is not, of course, to suggest that the film endorses Nick’s capitulation to Vietnam, any more than Rio Bravo could be read as an endorsement of alcoholism. Yet the use of Nick to criticize Mike is consistent throughout the film. His sense of Mike’s archaism is introduced near the beginning (“I don’t think much about ‘one shot’ any more”); his sense of the presumption inherent in Mike’s attitude erupts in the Vietcong camp (“Who do you think you are—God?” in response to Mike’s abrupt decision that the only thing to do about Steven is to “forget him”). Finally, his suicide at the Russian Roulette table amounts to a demonstration to Mike of the irrelevance of “one shot” within a chaotic reality beyond the control of anybody.

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