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June 1994


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Daniel Pisano <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 3 Jun 1994 09:33:00 MESZ
from "Gayle F. Wald" at Jun 1, 94 10:15 am
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
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> Errol offers an interesting perspective on _Falling Down_.  I, too, thought
> that it was interesting, particularly coming so close to the L.A. uprisings.
> When I saw the film (on video, not during its general run in theaters) I
> couldn't help but read it as an allegory of middle-clas white male homocidal
> tendencies.  From the looks of the trailor, I feared that it would be
> an apology for white middle-class resentment (the kind so often appealed to
> during the 1992 presidential campaign), but i found it to be more subtle than
> I originally anticipated.  Was this film supposed to offer viewers (suburban
> commuting types, for example) a cathartic experience (for example, Douglass'
> "spree" originates during a traffic jam)?  Was it a video game produced for
> the big screen (i.e. a film that followed its (anti)-hero through various
> urban war zones, as he accumulates ever bigger arsenals of weapons)?  Was
> it the dweeb's response to Rambo?  A commentary on race and class in L.A.?
> All of the above?  I'd be interested to hear what others think--has there
> been anything published about the film?
> Gayle
SPOLER-WARNING - don't read below this line if you have to see the film yet
There is this scene where D-FENS goes to a junk food place and after
having gone through a breakfast ordering scene 'orders' a hamburger.
He gets the burger and shows how pityful it looks like to his
'audience' asking "why does the hamburger look so tasty and perfect on
this instead of showing this?" (greasy, badly made, disgusting, etc)
while holding it up for all to see.
A small boy is the only one to raise a hand for answering (which is not
That reminded me a lot of the story of 'The Emperor's New Clothes'.
The emperor is naked, the hamburger ad betrays.
I think that Falling Down has a lot to do with the downfall of the American
dream (did I already use that image in another message?)
D-FENS (the name suggests that he _re_acts to something from the outside
rather than just going plainly crazy) repeats a few times that he "just
wants to go home".
Home being a classical American icon for shelter, security and intact values.
In every single little episode that is told during the film,
D-FENS makes a point that is perfectly valid.
He wants to be able to walk around freely without being bothered,
wants to eat properly and being respected. He is questioning this
'road improvement' project that he then blows up (I am not quite
coclusive about whether his assumptions are right or not there then)
Then we see the highly _privatized_ life of a wealthy family.
For D-FENS it only takes a 'walk through the bushes' to get from the violent,
poor slums to the peaceful, affluent resort that is defended like Fort Knox.
Also, try to elaborate on the police's reactions to calls from different
social environments.
The 'resort' is instantly defended, while D-Fens's wife's call is not being
taken seriously. I think that this elemnt is intended make the point that
society has reached a point where safety and security have become a luxury
that has to be 'paid' for instead of being a bsaic right.
However, he has strong tendencies to being mentally ill. Yes. And of course
the characters he encounters are strongly stereotyped.
As I have read, that scriptwriters were turned down many times before
finding a company that would produce the film and that one copmany even
expressed strong feelings against that script stating that they 'hope
that this film be never made'.
D-FENS has to die at the end. Hollywood wants that. He has to be portrayed as
a madmand. Hollywood wants that also.
There is no place for direct and naked criticism to society as it presents
itself to the questioning character. With that, everything in that movie has
to be overdrawn to give the audience reason to put down disturbing thoughts
that may come up while thinking about the points that it makes as products
of an ill mind that does not provide good enough grounds to be pondered.
There's more but I think that I have presented my basic feeling about this
Daniel ([log in to unmask])