Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Big Bob Hope Head Chop Confirmation

Rented CASANOVA'S BIG NIGHT because I haven't seen it since I was a little kid, and I wanted to confirm that Bob Hope gets his head chopped off at the end, which terrified me during my cowardly, cringing childhood the way I told you. I don't want to lie to you! Besides, there is nothing anyone enjoys more than reading about the dumb things that scared "bloggers" when they were children. Now I have watched CASANOVA'S BIG NIGHT and I can tell you two or three things: 1) IT IS THE GREATEST MOVIE EVER MADE. 2) There's a moment when Bob Hope escapes from his tiny dungeon cell using a tunnel that ends up leading to an even tinier cell, filled with other prisoners who have also tried to escape. Is that like Samuel Beckett? No, it's much more like Bunuel. I know I promised many years ago to stop comparing every weird thing in a movie to Bunuel, and I have tried to stick to it, but that really is something that would happen in a Bunuel movie, I can't help it, sue me, that's Bunuel's view of the world in a nutshell, really. All the other prisoners laugh at Bob Hope and he says, "It's not that funny." Bunuel! 3) Yep, he gets his head chopped off. And I remembered what was so scary to me as a child: you see the swift axe (it wasn't a guillotine: that I misremembered) come down almost all the way to his neck before there's a freeze frame. The eternally suspended axe - blurred from the inevitable speed with which death visits us all - looms over Bob Hope's head in his monstrously protracted final second of existence! Then there's some "postmodern" (I guess) biz where Bob steps out of character to beg us - the audience! - for his life... and WE BETRAY HIM. What exactly is being said about complicity, passivity, spectatorship, consumerism, power, the element of Dionysian sacrifice snaking through all popular entertainment? Nothing, probably. Why don't I just go to hell?