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Author Topic: My problem with Eve's death  (Read 23812 times)
Don Rogers
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« Reply #15 on: January 19, 2007, 07:45:38 PM »

It's a fair point, but is it any less elaborate than breaking into a stable, killing a horse, cutting off it's head, sneaking into a guy's bedroom with it and placing it under his bed clothes, re-arranging then to look like nothing is out of place, and doing ALL this at night in such silence that you are never detected and there is even a guy sleeping in the bed?

Sometimes the dramatic effects a director is looking for don't bear too much scrutiny. And anyway, the images of menace that the bullet outline creates is not only aimed at the character of Eve, it is actually aimed at us the viewer.

On Eve it is there to make her scared enough to answer the first line of dialogue in the film without hesitation. "Where is he?"

On us it is there as yet another of the slightly surreal images Leone so often enjoyed using to disorient his audience, and I for one so often enjoy watching.
Fair enough, although in The Godfather's defense, the human prank victim was presumably drugged first. And I sense a mild double standard -- when Coppola does it, it's elaborate and therefore phony; when Leone does it, it's surreal and therefore artistic.

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mikimouse
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« Reply #16 on: April 04, 2007, 11:03:40 AM »

Although it may be time consuming, it's not impossible. So it could have happened that way. Maybe they had been waiting there for quite a while and were 'killing' time until she came home.

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Noodles_SlowStir
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« Reply #17 on: April 04, 2007, 10:10:51 PM »

I don't have a problem with the beginning of OUATIA.  OUATIA is a film that sometimes doesn't lend itself to literal translation or linear thought.  That's one of the things I love about the film.  I think the intricate bullet holes in the sheets is just a reference by Sergio Leone to other films in the gangster genre such as The Godfather with the horse head, and the sending of dead fish and rabbits and so on.  I think you can spend a lot of time analyzing these kind of details but they're just part of the mythology of the genre.  The thing that makes OUATIA a great film in my opinion are the greater artistic aspirations of Sergio Leone.  The film transcends the gangster genre and talks about time, mortality, death, dreams, psychology and the art of cinema itself.  I remember the first time I saw the film in the mid eighties on VHS.  I was fortunate to see a full version.  I really liked the film.  But I remember that I had a problem with the scene in which Noodles sees Deborah some thirty five years later.  I was critical  that  Deborah hadn't been aged enough despite having the stage make up on.  I even considered that Elizabeth McGovern was miscast in the role.
But now with subsequent viewings, and time, I understand and appreciate Leone's intention with the scene.  Deborah appears as Noodles sees her.  The film at times cannot be read literally.

I don't think you can compare the death of Eve with the slaughter scene in OUTITW.  I think OUTITW is structured differently than OUATIA.  I agree that the slaughter scene in OUTITW is designed to very early define the dark evil of the Henry Fonda character.  OUTITW is by no means a simplistic film.  Other characters identified as good have their "grayness".  With OUATIA, I think Leone takes this character grayness much further.  The task of the director in OUATIA is to make the viewer care for a group of sometimes violent, amoral and murderous gangsters.  I think Sergio Leone succeeds.  The segment of the film which shows the gang as boys I think enables the viewer to care for the characters.  There is not one pivotal scene like in OUTITW.  I think the entire segment depicting the gang when they were boys is really comparable to the function of the slaughter scene.

As far as the Frankie Minaldi character, I would call him a shadow character rather than a minor character.  I read somewhere that Sergio Leone decided to find a role for Joe Pesci almost as a favor to De Niro.  Although I think Pesci wanted another part he accepted the role.   I think the importance of the character is that he represents Max's ascent outside of the gang establishing contacts with the larger Mob or syndicate.   Besides the first meeting with the gang to discuss the diamond heist, Minaldi does appear at the hospital.  He enters the hospital when Noodles and Max are leaving after Jimmy is taken away for surgery.  I think the Minaldi character is important because he also foreshadows
Max's downfall.  Max is mixing it up with the big boys now and he'll never be able to prevail over them in the end.  Minaldi, the larger Mob, corrupt police and politicians all pull the strings....including Max's strings.  Also I always thought that Noodles was being pursued in the beginning by the larger Mob (Minaldi) and possibly the corrupt police.   It's inferred that Max has already established an alliance with the larger Mob through or with Minaldi.  I always believed that Max tried to spare Noodles, but the Mob and possibly police, were operating above Max and tying up all loose ends.  Also I don't see a script problem with the sparing of Moe in the beginning.  I believe that if Noodles hadn't saved Moe, he would of been executed after his brutal beating. 

This was my first posting.  Thank you for letting me participate on the board.  OUATIA has become one of my favorite films.  Hope I can chime in from time to time with something good.

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aldog
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« Reply #18 on: April 05, 2007, 03:29:44 AM »

Noodles_slowstir

Loved your post to bits. Agree with everything you said and I'm sure like myself there's a million other connections/observations you could make.

Your point about Max's effort to save Noodles from being gunned down with Patsy and Cockeye [by knocking him out when he repeats his 'you're crazy' slur] being overridden by the corrupt police/mob is the only explanation that I have come up with for what actually went on. Also I think your point about not taking everything literally - forinstance Deborah's non-ageing in her dressing room - is an absolute pre-requisite for deriving maximum fulfillment from the film.

One of the things that is utterly amazing about OUATIA is when you read many of the forum posts or even some of the 'learned' critiques is just how many misinterpretatations there are of the film's numerous twists and turns.

Forinstance - and most notable for me - is in Dana Andrews wonderful [lengthy]synposis of the film she manages to misread the identity of Max's son at the end of the film, mistaking him for the 'rape' child of Noodles and Deborah. It is a major misinterpretation set amidst her otherwise intuitive and enlightened clear grasp of just how momentous this movie really is and shows just how easy it is to miss one of the thousands of tiny clues left by this genius director.

One final personal observation. It has taken me at least a dozen watchings to arrive at the tenuous grasp I now have of the plot this masterpiece. Yet, I still feel very strongly that the key to its enchantment does not lie in extending your understanding of it but in experiencing within yourself the representations it is attempting to convey about some very basic human traits. In other words OUATIA is at heart a film about human emotion and emotions, their suppression and their revelation. As many respected critics have pointed out, it is not and never will be a gangster movie.

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dave jenkins
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« Reply #19 on: April 05, 2007, 05:48:31 PM »

  The task of the director in OUATIA is to make the viewer care for a group of sometimes violent, amoral and murderous gangsters.  I think Sergio Leone succeeds.  The segment of the film which shows the gang as boys I think enables the viewer to care for the characters. 
I don't necessarily disagree with you, but perhaps an even more important function of the gangsters-as-kids material is to provide insight into the psychology of Noodles. The film is full of gangster film conventions, but we never get the sense that the movie is *only* a film-about-films film. There are real people under all the costumes, and Noodles' memories (some of them, anyway) are based on what he and others (including "Harry Grey") actually experienced. This makes the movie a richer work, naturally, but it also helps Leone set up his themes regarding the relationship between life, dreams, and film.

BTW, I really enjoyed your post. You've obviously thought about the film a lot and it is a pleasure to read an informed, detailed take like yours. Please favor us with more of your ideas. Afro

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« Reply #20 on: April 05, 2007, 11:18:11 PM »

I really enjoyed reading the two recent posts on this thread.   I decided to post on this particular thread because there had been a recent comment, and I thought it was kind of apropos for a newbie to post for the first time on a thread that concerned itself with the beginning of the film. (I guess some argue that the beginning is really the end....or the end is the beginning....lol.  OUATIA is a complex film)

aldog, I really liked your closing observation.  OUATIA is like a fine work of literature.  It can be interpreted and read on so many different levels.  The extent to which it involves and engages the viewer in the experience is unlike many films.  That the film is crafted to be open, invites the viewer to formulate their own personal vision of what the film means and what actually happened.  It very much has a "living quality"  in that with repeated viewings it can take the viewer to a different place based upon their particular concerns and changes with time.  And yet I strongly agree with what you say.....even with all the ideas....with all the themes Sergio Leone has smuggled into his epic vision....with all the new observations from repeated viewings...OUATIA is definitely a film to feel.  It's most definitely about empathizing with the characters, feeling your own emotions, understanding the character's repressed feelings and perhaps your own.

I think this links with Dave's point of view as well.  Dave I agree with what you're saying about the gangster-youth segment of the film.  The segment is also important as a depiction of Noodle's personal memories and is significant in understanding his state of mind.  I think in my post I may of been kinda analytical about some of the concerns in the thread about the opening of the film.  I  found myself defending the film, particularly from a structure and director viewpoint.   I guess I do subscribe to the auteur  theory and  I'm always fascinated with a director's vision and his recurring themes.  Particularly themes of the passage of time, stream of consciousness, dreams and the experience of watching a film.  I definitely agree with you that OUATIA is more than a film about film.   I think a film has to be able to stand up alone based upon the quality of the story and script; it's ability to engage the actors and viewers.  Although the director is an important guide, cinema is a collaborative effort.  OUATIA  is infused with so much humanity.  It's well acted throughout by everyone in the cast.   I'm always blown away by De Niro's understated performance.  Just the look on his face at certain times in the film evokes emotion and thought.  The contributions of masterful editing and cinematography....particularly in making the time transitions so seamless.   The absolutely beautiful score from Ennio Morricone, which certainly enhances OUATIA's ability to emotionally engage the viewer.  And I definitely agree  that the writing and script having been based and drawn from actual experiences,  enriches the film very deeply, providing a story that involves the actors and viewers.

Guys, thanks for sharing your thoughts.
 

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Don Rogers
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« Reply #21 on: August 26, 2008, 01:11:38 PM »

Noodles_Slowstir: "I believe that if Noodles hadn't saved Moe, he would have been executed after his brutal beating."

So why wouldn't Max have Moe killed, rather than allow him to survive for decades where he could at any time have linked Max to the Cabinet Secretary? Moe never went into hiding.

I think the whole Max-rises-to-the-Cabinet plot line is ludicrous, really. But thanks for your thoughtful responses.

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« Reply #22 on: August 26, 2008, 03:49:07 PM »

Can we assume perhaps that the "bullet holes" are cigarette burns rather than bullets? I'll have to rewatch this movie soon.

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« Reply #23 on: August 26, 2008, 07:59:43 PM »

So why wouldn't Max have Moe killed, rather than allow him to survive for decades where he could at any time have linked Max to the Cabinet Secretary? Moe never went into hiding.

Remember, Moe is Deborah's brother.

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Don Rogers
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« Reply #24 on: August 27, 2008, 10:06:03 AM »


Yes, I know that Fat Moe is Deborah's brother.  And Noodles is Max's best (only?) friend. Max's actions (sparing his brother-in-law, while at the same time targeting his best friend for decades; completely and permanently abandoning his old identity, while at the same time publicly romancing a famous movie star from the old neighborhood) are entirely self-contradictory. Taken together, they make no sense.

I know we don't have full details of Max's life between 1933 - 1968.  But is there *any* remotely plausible scenario in which the Max of 1933 could become the Secretary Bailey of 1968, a highly prominent man whose face is never in the news? I'll answer that one myself: There isn't.

Now the audience is supposed to assume that  Mendy & Trigger Mike bring bullet-ridden bed-linens with them from one hit job to the next, in the hope that they'll be able to relive that wonderful prank they played on Jimmy (Treat Williams). The prank wherein, of course, Mendy & Trigger Mike performed the vaudeville feat of meatly outlining Jimmy with bullet holes, using their tommy guns (from above?), without injuring Jimmy (and without Jimmy's moving at all).

Yup. That makes sense. It's no wonder Mendy & Trigger Mike were so famous, in real life.

Yes, folks, that was sarcasm: used here as a device to start the audience thinking.

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dave jenkins
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« Reply #25 on: August 27, 2008, 05:24:34 PM »

What do you want from us, Don? Yes, the plot of OUATIA is full of holes. We like the movie anyway, much more than movies made by other directors whose plots may also be full of holes (but even in such cases where they're not). There's something about the way Leone executes his ridiculous plots that makes what he does sublime. This is in contradistinction to what has been done by almost every one of his peers. The dross Leone begins with is routinely transformed by his artistry into that rarest of treasures, "a higher nonsense." The purpose of this board--largely--is to account for this amazing alchemy.

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Don Rogers
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« Reply #26 on: August 28, 2008, 02:33:34 AM »

Thanks, Dave. It's good to know that there is someone else here who at least recognizes a plot hole. I mostly hear from fans who are blown away by the supposed "realism" of the film. Your frank admission that numerous portions of OUATIA strain credulity means you're not all crazy.

Maybe I am too much the linear rationalist to really enjoy this film. When I first saw the end of it, I felt baffled, then angry, as if the screenwriters had intentionally insulted the audience's -- that is to say my -- intelligence.  I can recall similar disappointments with the endings of the films 2001: A Space Odyssey and Donnie Darko, two other movies much loved by many, whose stories simply don't hold water for me.  I can appreciate the masterful production design that went into OUATIA, much as I appreciate the groundbreaking special effects in 2001. I can see that Donnie Darko is sincerely meant and well acted. But the endings to all three films are nonsensical, at least by my narrow, classical lights. (Some other, older films had endings I couldn't or wouldn't swallow at all, either: Random Harvest and Dark Victory are two that come to mind.)

If you can see that OUATIA is nonsense, but you still want to celebrate its mysterious, alchemical transmutation into "a higher form of nonsense," then... sure, I guess, go ahead, knock yourself out. Those aren't the standards I judge by, but, hey, "different strokes," etc. But I really don't see why, when most people here accept that Duck You Sucka is a storytelling mess, it's such apostasy to say the same thing about OUATIA. What does OUATIA have that Duck You Sucka does not? A great score, yes (Duck You Sucka's music is awful); and De Niro. Rod Steiger was  a very good actor, but he made too many bad movies to serve as any "proof of quality".

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« Reply #27 on: August 28, 2008, 06:39:37 AM »

No matter what, it's still a film.  I first saw this at an "art" theater, 1985, not the butchered version.  First time I saw it the telephone ringing drove me nuts.  Upon repeated viewings, realized that the phone was the haunting ringing Noodles heard while calling the police, to turn Max in for the lesser crime, planning to "save" him, which backfired (to Noodles) and seemed to cause his death. 

Leone seemed quite interested in faking a death and starting a new life, like Beauregard in My Name is Nobody.

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« Reply #28 on: August 28, 2008, 09:26:04 AM »

What do you want from us, Don?

Compassion.

He's got mine.

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dave jenkins
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« Reply #29 on: August 28, 2008, 10:13:19 AM »

But the endings to all three films are nonsensical, at least by my narrow, classical lights. (Some other, older films had endings I couldn't or wouldn't swallow at all, either: Random Harvest and Dark Victory are two that come to mind.)
I'll grant you that the endings of 2001 and DD leave something to be desired, but OUATIA? It ends with its tail/tale in its mouth. That's about as classical as it gets, my friend.

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