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drinkanddestroy
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« #15 : July 17, 2012, 02:03:01 AM »

The film doesn't look for one second like a dream.

The last shot is ambivalent enough to be interpreted in different ways.

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(NOTE: throughout this entire discussion, whenever I refer to eg.  "the movie being a dream," or the "dream theory," etc., what I mean to say is, "at least as a possible interpretation." In other words, when I present my argument in favor of the dream theory, what I am saying is that  I believe that Leone's intent was either that the movie should be seen as a dream,  or that it should at least be seen a possible dream, which some people would refer to as "intentionally ambiguous" or a "double meaning". etc. etc.  etc.;  but the point is that I am in complete disagreement with those who argue that Leone never intended the movie to be seen as a dream in any way)  


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Well what do you do with all those statements from Leone about the movie being an opium dream? Do you disagree with Leone's interpretation of his own movie? Do you think that he never thought about the dream element until someone gave him the idea after the movie was completed? Come on. You can have whatever theories you want, but when a director clearly says that the movie is a dream (at least as a possible interpretation), then I don't think there's much to argue about. Once Leone made those statements, there are only 2 possibilities: 1) he is saying the truth, that the movie is intended to be a dream. or 2) that he is lying, and that he really never intended it to be a dream, but is encouraging us to interpret the movie that he basically dedicated his life to, in a false manner; that someone alerted him to the dream possibility after the movie was completed, and he decided to go with it, even though he never intended that.

I know Leone was known for telling tall tales, but this would be a new level of "tall"; more like a Colossus  ::)


I would be very interested to hear if one of you "dream theory opponents" (I was going to use the term dream theory "denier," but i wouldn't want anyone to confuse me with the global warming lobby  ;)) can explain away Leone's clear statements that it's a dream. And once you've done that, would you be so kind as to explain the following: i) the use of Noodles getting stoned on opium as a framing device; ii) Noodles's final smile; ii)  the purpose of the surreal scene with the 30's car in 1968; and iv) the pagoda across the street from Bailey's mansion?


(And please, I don't want to hear anything about color tv's in 1968. Please. I don't know whether to  ;D or  ::) when I hear that!)

« : July 17, 2012, 02:05:27 AM drinkanddestroy »

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« #16 : July 17, 2012, 03:40:03 AM »

I think the main (and only) argument against the dream theory is: "Wow wait, so that was only a dream? It sucks. Nah, don't think about the dream theory now."

Which is a valid point.


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« #17 : July 17, 2012, 04:25:45 AM »

if you read Frayking's chapter on OUATIA, it's clear that Leone's meetings with Grey -- a man who was living in a fantasy world -- heavily influenced the movie. Not that Grey had any influence on the movie; he actually died before shooting began. But observing Grey -- a man who was trying to make sense of his past and basically living in a fantasy world -- helped Leone decided on how to make the movie. It was after meeting Grey that he decided to make the film about an elderly gangster returning to his neighborhood (the entire 1968 section is a Leone creation; the book ends with Noodles escaping New York after his  betrayal of the gang). Yes, the fantasy world that Grey was living in, which Leone figured from reading the book (much of which was copied from gangster movies) and from meeting Grey, is what gave Leone the ideas. It is so clear that this idea of fantasy was on Leone's mind all along.


As for dj's statement that a director isn't the best interpreter of his work, well, what can I say. (There's a guy who called me crazy for stating an opinion on Psycho that was consistent with the views expressed by those involved in the making of the movie, but not with a couple of critics that he likes!) If Leone's interpretation of the movie is incorrect, well then, I guess you can believe whatever you wanna believe. If Leone intended the movie to be a dream, then THE MOVIE IS A DREAM! Sure, you can argue whether or not it was smart to make the movie as a dream, you can believe that it would work better of it wasn't a dream; anyone has a right to believe that a movie was done well or done poorly, or if something would have been better if it had been done differently. But to argue factually with the intent of the movie -- Leone says it was a dream, but a viewer says he doesn't wanna believe him -- what can I say, that's simply ludicrous.

Maybe in the studio system days -- where a director gets done directing a movie on Thursday and is on to the next one on Monday, where he was just one piece of the puzzle in making a movie, when you had the head of production at the studio who installed all the pieces in, and the director was just one piece along with many other pieces, including actors and writers and producers etc. all under contract with the studio -- maybe there you could argue that a movie doesn't necessarily completely reflect the view of the director. (eg. as we have seen, Daryl Zanuk made significant changes to John Ford's version of My Darling Clementine before it was released. So you can definitely argue that when watching the theatrical version of MDC, you are not watching a movie that fully represents John Ford's vision). But in the case of OUATIA -- where Leone had been working on it, in one form or another, for a decade and a half, it was his life's work, he was involved in the project from beginning to end, it was clearly LEONE's project, there was no studio head or producer that had veto power over Leone, everything was Leone's, Leone oversaw it all (even had a screenwriting credit, as usual) and according to one of the interviews translated here, sent a specific note to the screenwriters emphasizing the importance of the fantasy element -- if you are going to argue that we need not accept that a major element of the movie is about what Leone intended it to be about, well, what can I tell you: I think you are living in a fantasy world. Yeah, on a certain level you can just say "art is whatever you want it to be." I mean, if you wanna look at the Mona Lisa and argue that somehow it's not a woman but a train, well, nobody's stopping you. If it makes you happy to think it's a train, then go ahead. But da Vinci intended to draw a woman and no amount of wanting to believe that it's a train will change the fact that it is a woman, or the fact that everything that happens from the moment Noodles gets stoned is fantasy.


« : November 10, 2013, 06:32:58 AM drinkanddestroy »

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« #18 : July 17, 2012, 09:16:03 AM »

To me it doesn't really matter if half of the movie is a dream. Even though the discussion is interesting, I find it ultimately irrelevant. I guess I could try and babble something fake-poetic about it (cinema is always a dream blah blah blah OUATIA is a film about cinema i.e. dreams blah blah blah) but I refuse to embarrass myself and will only say that I don't find the debate relevant.


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« #19 : July 17, 2012, 10:06:56 AM »

What I find most interesting about questions relating to whether it was all a dream are the various accounts of what Leone said at various times on the topic.  I have seen no account where he just says "I decided to add to the book a dream sequence of what happened after Noodles left the City" or something like that.  Rather, most quotes of his seemed to be more of the "maybe, maybe not" variety.

It is amazing to me that Leone decided to add the 1968 piece to the movie, dream or not.  That is a brilliant storyteller, for sure.  It makes the movie so much better.  I wonder if Grey/Goldberg ever though of writing a sequel, as the end of The Hoods seems to invite.

There are so many aspects of this film that are extraordinary (we all appear to know them), that I kind of like that on top of it all, we don't really, really, know why Noodles is smiling at the end of the film (probably a good topic all of its own).

Btw, I am still searching for a copy of the short version (The Ladd Company did not respond to my inquiry) and can't wait to see the extended version.  I suspect that my fascination with this film will cover just as long a period of time as Leone's.

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« #20 : July 17, 2012, 11:46:28 AM »

Quote
Leone's interpretation of the movie is incorrect, well then, I guess you can believe whatever you wanna believe. If Leone intended the movie to be a dream, then THE MOVIE IS A DREAM!

See, I took three years of film classes where they hammer the auteur theory into your brain with an ice mallet. And even I don't buy that argument.



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« #21 : July 17, 2012, 12:03:40 PM »




As for dj's statement that a director isn't the best interpreter of his work, well, what can I say. (There's a guy who called me crazy for stating an opinion on Psycho that was consistent with the views expressed by those involved in the making of the movie, but not with a couple of critics that he likes!) If Leone's interpretation of the movie is incorrect, well then, I guess you can believe whatever you wanna believe. If Leone intended the movie to be a dream, then THE MOVIE IS A DREAM! Sure, you can argue whether or not it was smart to make the movie as a dream, you can believe that it would work better of it wasn't a dream; anyone has a right to believe that a movie was done well or done poorly, or if something would have been better if it had been done differently. But to argue factually with the intent of the movie -- Leone says it was a dream, but a viewer says he doesn't wanna believe him -- what can I say, that's simply ludicrous.


Drink I'm sure you won't understand this, but if a film is finished and shown to an audience everybody's opinion about this film is as good as the director's (or whoever is mainly responsible for a certain movie).
Of course I would care more for the director's interpretation than for the one of my dumb neighbour, but if I have a reasonable view of a film it is as much worth as from the one who made it.


« : July 17, 2012, 12:04:46 PM stanton »

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« #22 : July 17, 2012, 12:35:18 PM »

Chris-

I have not read Call Me Duke.  Does it have any of the same characters? 

It does not seem to be available at any reasonable cost.


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« #23 : July 17, 2012, 02:25:37 PM »

Drink I'm sure you won't understand this, but if a film is finished and shown to an audience everybody's opinion about this film is as good as the director's (or whoever is mainly responsible for a certain movie).
Of course I would care more for the director's interpretation than for the one of my dumb neighbour, but if I have a reasonable view of a film it is as much worth as from the one who made it.

Hear hear.



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« #24 : July 17, 2012, 06:12:48 PM »

well if you wanna basically say that art means whatever the hell you want it to mean, then I guess that's that. No point in having any of these discussions, no point in trying to find out what was really intended by the director, if the director's intent doesn't mean more than whatever you want it to mean.

So the question, which IMO is very important, of whether Leone intended the movie to be a dream is settled (in fact it was never really a question at all). The only question up for discussion is "does Individual Viewer X want to interpret it as a dream?," a question which frankly doesn't interest me at all.

« : July 17, 2012, 06:16:15 PM drinkanddestroy »

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« #25 : July 17, 2012, 06:43:30 PM »

This discussion forces me to take a broader critical/philosophical track there. Comments below need not apply specifically to OUATIA.

well if you wanna basically say that art means whatever the hell you want it to mean, then I guess that's that. No point in having any of these discussions, no point in trying to find out what was really intended by the director, if the director's intent doesn't mean more than whatever you want it to mean.

There is no point to any discussion if you limit it to one interpretation alone. Art is interpretative - especially OUATIA, which (whatever Leone's comments) is deliberately vague and open-ended.

I certainly don't think the director is the sole authority over a movie. First of all, more generally, a director is quite often not the driving force behind a movie. If we're going to talk "artistic integrity" or intention than why exclude the producer/writer/star from consideration? Why is their vision not central to a movie's creation? Secondly,  this does not preclude a director failing to convey a message or the existence of alternate interpretations. Rote slavish auteurism is the last refuge of the Jacques Rivettes.
 
Quote
The only question up for discussion is "does Individual Viewer X want to interpret it as a dream?," a question which frankly doesn't interest me at all.

Then why discuss any movie? Just look up a director's thoughts on their own movie, post them and have done with it. End thread, indeed end board.

« : July 17, 2012, 06:45:09 PM Groggy »


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« #26 : July 17, 2012, 07:03:39 PM »

Yes, if the question is "is the movie a dream," I think the fact that a director clearly intends it to be a dream settles it.

I don't disagree that the director is not the only one that matters. As I said in my earlier post, there were times with the studio system where the director was just one piece of the puzzle, and the movie had many other imprints; eg. the theatrical version of My Darling Clementine is very different from John Ford's version. No doubt.

But I specifically said with OUATIA that it is clear that this was Leone's Project.  Of course, if you find evidence that the writers or actors or whatever did not think it was a dream, then yeah,  I think there is room for debate. But with OUATIA, which Leone was clearly the driving force behind, intimately involved in every aspect of it, it was HIS movie, and he even sent a note to those working on the movie clearly outlining his intentions with the fantasy elements of the movie, so I'd say that in this case, absent clear evidence that others working on the movie oppose the dream theory, I'd say the dream theory is the only legitimate interpretation.

These statements only apply to a movie like OUATIA, with Leone as the dominating force. But in instances where, such as with My Darling Clementine, there is very large input from a studio, and in some cases was edited by a studio film editor with no input from the director, I certainly wouldn't say that the movie should have the strict interpretation of the director.

Leone is the one who directed the scenes, the one who told De Niro to smile at the end, the one who put that scene at the end of the movie, the one who had that surreal scene with the 30's car in 1968, etc. Yeah, absent significant evidence to the contrary, I'd say Leone's view should rule.


However, I can't expect you to accept my opinion about whether Leone's views should be dispositive, but I can expect dream-theory-opponents to explain your positions or answered the problems with your theory that I posed.  So let's for a moment forget Leone's statements about the dream. Let me just ask you to please explain: the visit to the opium den as a framing device, that final smile at the end of the movie, the surreal scene with Noodles in 1968 watching the partygoers in the 1930's cars, and the pagoda across from the Bailey mansion?


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« #27 : July 18, 2012, 01:04:06 AM »

Yes, if the question is "is the movie a dream," I think the fact that a director clearly intends it to be a dream settles it.

I don't disagree that the director is not the only one that matters. As I said in my earlier post, there were times with the studio system where the director was just one piece of the puzzle, and the movie had many other imprints; eg. the theatrical version of My Darling Clementine is very different from John Ford's version. No doubt.

But I specifically said with OUATIA that it is clear that this was Leone's Project.  Of course, if you find evidence that the writers or actors or whatever did not think it was a dream, then yeah,  I think there is room for debate. But with OUATIA, which Leone was clearly the driving force behind, intimately involved in every aspect of it, it was HIS movie, and he even sent a note to those working on the movie clearly outlining his intentions with the fantasy elements of the movie, so I'd say that in this case, absent clear evidence that others working on the movie oppose the dream theory, I'd say the dream theory is the only legitimate interpretation.

These statements only apply to a movie like OUATIA, with Leone as the dominating force. But in instances where, such as with My Darling Clementine, there is very large input from a studio, and in some cases was edited by a studio film editor with no input from the director, I certainly wouldn't say that the movie should have the strict interpretation of the director.

Leone is the one who directed the scenes, the one who told De Niro to smile at the end, the one who put that scene at the end of the movie, the one who had that surreal scene with the 30's car in 1968, etc. Yeah, absent significant evidence to the contrary, I'd say Leone's view should rule.


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« #28 : July 18, 2012, 02:15:07 AM »

I don't think it's that clear cut and unambiguous, drinkanddestory.  As I understand it, you're accepting that the director wanted to have hallucinatory and dream elements in the movie but refusing to accept his statement that it was edited carefully and on purpose so that it would have a double meaning.



woah, I have said very clearly all along that whenever I speak about the "dream theory," I am accepting either the notion that it is clearly meant to be a dream, or the notion that it is meant as a possible dream, as a double meaning; I am only rejecting the notion that it is absolutely meant to be literal with no possibility of a dream interpretation


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« #29 : July 18, 2012, 02:24:23 AM »


The white jaguar in the procession during the garbage truck scene looks the same as the white jaguar at Bailey's mansion.  The kids could be just dressed up formally and have hired classic cars for an evening out.  The beer bottles thrown out of the cars don't look like beer bottles from 1933.  The pagoda is just a tentative link in anticipation of the following scene.  After the procession of cars goes by Noodles looks down.  The cars and the pagoda could have triggered a memory.  Noodles could just be remembering an important time in his life when he betrayed his friends, went to an opium den to seek solace and is similar to the ending of the book when Noodles stretched out on his back, all his aches and tiredness flowed out of him and he felt safe and at peace.



so there happened to be a pagoda on Long Island, and that triggered Noodles's memory of the time when he smoked opium the night after betraying his friends? So the movie ends with Noodles remembering that night in the opium den -- a memory triggered by the pagoda, which just so happened to be there on Long Island? That's not very satisfying. (The ending in the book means nothing; the book has no 1968 section at all; it ends when Noodles is able to escape New York after ratting out his friends; finally, when he escaped successfully, he was able to find some momentary peace for the first time in a long time. That has nothing to do with this moment in the opium den, which occurs while he is still in New York. The Hoods s used strictly for some events and narrative, and I wouldn't use it as any sort of resolution to any important plot questions).

As I said previously, I guess that the surreal aspect of the scene with the 30's cars in 1968 would have been emphasized if they;d included that deleted scene in which you see Noodles walking through the partiers in Chinatown on his way to the opium den. Perhaps it would have cut from that car directly to the partiers in Chinatown, or from Noodles's face directly to his face on that night. Who knows. Lots of shit had to be cut to get the movie down to 229 minutes; but this doesn't seem to be one of the scenes that has been restored (yet?). Either way, I think including that brief scene may have further emphasized this point, but not changed anything. It's a fantasy, all along.


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