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Author Topic: Morton and the water picture  (Read 19102 times)
grandpa_chum
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« Reply #15 on: June 02, 2005, 02:24:10 PM »

I love the mud puddle death, I love the way it's symbollic(to me anyway) of mortons unrealized dream, he would screw whoever he could to get to the pacific and all he got was a dirty mud puddle.

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Harmonica: So, you're not a businessman after all.
Frank: Just a man.
Harmonica: An ancient race...
dave jenkins
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« Reply #16 on: June 03, 2005, 11:54:40 PM »

There is a feminist theory of water being female but I can't remember the basics of it .
It's not a feminist theory, it goes back to ideas developed by Fraser, Frye, Graves, Eliade and others concerning archetypes in Western culture. Women are associated with water (for many reasons, one being that the womb is a "watery" place) and men are associated with dry land, deities with the sky, etc. These associations are not exclusive, however. In OUATITW Wobbles runs a laundry, and as has been mentioned, Morton is identified with the Pacific Ocean, but neither of these facts suggest that there is anything feminine about those men.

The fact that Jill is constantly linked with water in various forms seems to suggest a *particular* identification between her and it. Since water is necessary for life and civilization, Jill, by bearing drinks to the boys at film's end, represents a nurturing presence. She is, if you will, the Mother of the coming age, the matriarch of a culture about to be born (exit Harmonica and the West). This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius (aka Jill's America). The Greeks had Helen, Leone posits a Jill at the start of the American Century. The White Goddess, no doubt, can assume many guises........

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« Reply #17 on: June 04, 2005, 09:34:41 AM »

When Cheyenne said that "it's something to with death", a lot of people took him at his word and decided the film is all about revenge (i.e., the usual theme of a Bronson movie).

But it ain't about death.  The water motif shines all the way through it and that's what it's about.

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« Reply #18 on: June 04, 2005, 04:07:53 PM »

Dave Jenkins

Point taken about 'feminist' theory.  Told you I wasn't listening, but at least i was on the right track (unlike Morton who fell off when he was shot).  Don't know much about Wobbles part in the theory, unless he was a dry cleaner Wink

The point about Morton though is not his sexuality or his manliness, but his DESIRE for the ocean (which we agree is female as gurgitated by many pseudo-intellectuals of no note).  His longing at the picture and his death-crawl to the puddle show this desire.  I could go on and indeed started to but deleted it all because it made no sense written down, but the disease is very relevant to his sexual nature, since it is most likely that he is unable to sow his oats, even if a lady found him attractive enough - hence the substitute (female) ocean.

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dave jenkins
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« Reply #19 on: June 05, 2005, 05:52:14 PM »

Half Soldier, I think you're on to something there. I'd never really thought about the value of the ocean for Morton in symbolic terms before, but your reading is certainly plausible. An added irony is that in his quest for the Pacific, Morton is unable to notice Jill (and her "sweet water") right in front of his train. Thus he remains a sterile, impotent figure.

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grandpa_chum
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« Reply #20 on: June 05, 2005, 09:06:52 PM »

btw, cheyenne never says IT's something to do with death, nor does what he say make a statement that the movie is all about revenge, cause it's not... he simply states that harmonica has something inside him, something to do with death, and bronson's character IS all about revenge, everything he does is to get at frank, and once he does he picks up and leaves no questions asked.

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Harmonica: An ancient race...
dave jenkins
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« Reply #21 on: June 06, 2005, 01:43:36 AM »

Right, right, Harmonica is an avenger, so his story arc takes him to the final showdown with Frank. Harmonica's story, however, is not the only story we're witnessing, and Jill's is equally (or even more) important. And her story has *nothing* to do with death (it has something to do with water........)

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« Reply #22 on: June 06, 2005, 08:39:05 AM »

I haven't seen the movie but once and my interretation went to the end when he struggles to finally reach the water before he dies. When Frank lets him live he sees what he is doing. So his dream is to find water.  This observation was after some thinging my first impresion during the movie was:

The place (forgive me for not knowing his name, the man and his family who were shot) the man chose to buy was the only place with water for miles arround. Morton finally realizes it. and has to see it for himself in the end with his struggle.

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grandpa_chum
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« Reply #23 on: June 06, 2005, 11:20:37 AM »

you're right dave... i was just saying that cheyennes comment is only towards harmonica, and harmonica's story is only about revenge, more so than any other character in cinema history that I can think of.  He does absolutely nothing that isn't directly going to get him closer to frank. but you are right, that isn't the whole movie... I like to see the movie and the whole water, jill story, as the stage that finally allows harmonica, after years and years of searching, to finally get to frank, It's a wonderful story, and it may be better developed and more involved than harmonicas story, but I still believe the movie to center around harmonica's struggle and how the water backstory allowed it to come to be.

« Last Edit: June 06, 2005, 11:22:29 AM by grandpa_chum » Logged

Harmonica: So, you're not a businessman after all.
Frank: Just a man.
Harmonica: An ancient race...
dave jenkins
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« Reply #24 on: June 06, 2005, 04:51:28 PM »

I agree. We can even say that Harmonica is the catalyst that makes a successful resolution of Jill's story possible. Without Harmonica, Jill would have been on her way back to New Orleans at the first sign of trouble.

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« Reply #25 on: October 12, 2006, 03:21:27 PM »

It should be noted that water imagery is not always symbolic of life. According to The Anatomy of Criticism,“Water . . . traditionally belongs to a realm of existence below human life, the state of chaos or dissolution which follows ordinary death, or the reduction to the inorganic. Hence the soul frequently crosses water [e.g. the rivers Jordan or Styx] or sinks into it at death” (Frye 146). Morton’s goal (and we should heed the mort that is part of his name) is a vast, chaotic ocean; he is seeking limitless salt water, not Sweetwater. The water there does not represent a life-sustaining fluid, but rather the death that Morton (who has “tuberculosis of the bones”) is rushing toward. Although he never makes it to the Pacific, water is present at his demise: “he dies crawling like a snail towards a puddle in the middle of the desert—the urine of his own puffing and wheezing locomotive” (Frayling 260). The crashing waves on the soundtrack underscore the irony of the situation (Morton’s great ambition coming to so little), but also re-emphasizes the association of water and death.

So water imagery can have opposite associations, and in OUATITW, when connected to Morton, it signifies death. When water is linked to Jill, however, it represents life.

« Last Edit: October 12, 2006, 05:45:23 PM by dave jenkins » Logged


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« Reply #26 on: October 12, 2006, 05:26:13 PM »

Don't forget that Cardinale had provided a similar muse and bringer of water/life in Fellin's OTTO E MEZZO.

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dave jenkins
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« Reply #27 on: October 12, 2006, 05:43:51 PM »

Frayling makes this point also, but I don't know what to do with it. An actor doesn't embody an archetype, she can play a water bearer in one film and a castrating harpie in another. If not, she wouldn't be much of an actor. So the fact that Claudia has a similar function in two different films by different directors seems no more than an interesting coincidence.

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« Reply #28 on: October 12, 2006, 07:16:54 PM »

It should be noted that water imagery is not always symbolic of life. According to The Anatomy of Criticism,“Water . . . traditionally belongs to a realm of existence below human life, the state of chaos or dissolution which follows ordinary death, or the reduction to the inorganic. Hence the soul frequently crosses water [e.g. the rivers Jordan or Styx] or sinks into it at death” (Frye 146). Morton’s goal (and we should heed the mort that is part of his name) is a vast, chaotic ocean; he is seeking limitless salt water, not Sweetwater. The water there does not represent a life-sustaining fluid, but rather the death that Morton (who has “tuberculosis of the bones”) is rushing toward. Although he never makes it to the Pacific, water is present at his demise: “he dies crawling like a snail towards a puddle in the middle of the desert—the urine of his own puffing and wheezing locomotive” (Frayling 260). The crashing waves on the soundtrack underscore the irony of the situation (Morton’s great ambition coming to so little), but also re-emphasizes the association of water and death.

So water imagery can have opposite associations, and in OUATITW, when connected to Morton, it signifies death. When water is linked to Jill, however, it represents life.


Fantastic analysis Jenkins. I'm being quite serious, that's a brilliant theory.

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dave jenkins
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« Reply #29 on: October 13, 2006, 08:11:51 AM »

Well, thank you. A kind word is always appreciated.

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