To start off the discussion for class Bruno asked everyone whether there were any questions or problems concerning the final assignment. There were a few brief questions wondering exactly when the paper was due, but that was it. After we moved on from that, Bruno decided to show the class two clips from Todd Haynes’ film I’m Not There (2007). After watching the opening credits of the film, which were accompanied of course by a Bob Dylan song, Bruno asked the class what we thought of the film if we had seen it, or if not what our reaction to the opening credits were. Most of the class discussed the difficulty the film seemed to have in representing Bob Dylan in any way correctly. It is almost impossible to configure one identity to represent Dylan, and although that is in a lot of ways the message the film is trying to offer to its viewer, most of the class didn’t believe it worked too well. We then discussed the way the actor’s names were introduced in the opening credits. All the actors that played Dylan’s role actually had their names intertwine at the bottom, essentially blending all of them into one person; Bob Dylan.
Bruno then attempted to link I’m Not There with Vanilla Sky (2001), a film we watched quite a bit of in the lecture the previous night. Director Cameron Crowe uses media and the fast cutting of images to relay a message about the impact of commercial media on the individual. But more importantly, on Tom Cruise. It is important that when watching Vanilla Sky the viewer is very aware of the fact that Tom Cruise is playing the main role, the role of an extremely rich man whose face and life becomes completely distorted by a terrible car crash. This plays off the idea that the audience may very well question the problems that would arise for Cruise if the same were to happen to him, who bases his popularity and income on his good looks. So similar to how Vanilla Sky plays with the idea of Tom Cruise as a movie star, I’m Not There does the same with Bob Dylan as a music star. We also discussed the fact that Haynes is attempting to say that there is far too much to show you about Dylan’s life, that you can’t even begin. By assigning numerous actors to the roles of many separate points in his life, you can begin to touch the iceberg of Dylan’s life, but of course your always left wanting more. Especially because there really is so much more.
The next clip from the film Bruno showed was a scene with Cate Blanchett. Her role as Dylan was highly acclaimed, and by many is believed to be the best out of all the actors that attempted to be him. We talked about why this was, and how she almost had it the easiest, especially appearance wise. Although female, Blanchett bares a remarkable resemblance to Dylan in the look that most people know, and think of him as.
This discussion then moved on to the student presentation for the day. The article he was presenting on was by Henry Jenkins, and titled, “Quentin Tarantino’s Star Wars.” The presentation touched on the fact that Jenkins talked about lawsuits and copyright issues that exist in the movie business. The article was also heavily based around the many appropriations that fans and any individual could create about commercial media. The most popular and the example Jenkins stuck to most of his article was the fan base surrounding George Lucas’ Star Wars (1977), and how many appropriations of the film were created. In the presentation there were a couple of clips, including “Tarantino’s Star Wars.” The clip itself didn’t seem to reflect the way Tarantino would direct Star Wars, but of course it was meant as a type of funny parody, that simply takes from the most obvious Tarantino stereotypes. The second clip was longer and better put together. The name of it was “George Lucas In Love,” which was an appropriation of course from Star Wars and John Madden’s Shakespeare In Love (1998). The presentation then showed us “Star Wars Uncut,” a popular fan based site that is actually owned by George Lucas. It invites fans to make small ten second clips from scenes in the original Star Wars, and upload them to this site. Some are great, and some are not so good.
The final part from the presentation talked a little more about the copyright issues that exist today. Disney is the enemy most of the time when discussing copyright, as they seemed to steal everything they could and then helped tweak the law so no one could do it to them. It was noted that Lucas and Lucas Films actually promote media activity, and fans appropriating their work. However, there are of course restrictions, and if a fan or anyone else goes too far they will have whatever it is taken down immediately. The second anything is posted onto one of their sites, it becomes a part of Lucas property.
We next moved our discussion over to the feature film from the previous night, David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive (2001). As we were coming to the end of class, and Bruno needed to get all of us to fill in the evaluation sheets, we didn’t have much time to discuss the film. There was an attempt by some of the students to discuss and explain the actual plot of the film. What was clear to most of us was the fact that the first half of the film could be considered the dream half, and the second half most likely some sort of reality. The dream was what Betty (Naomi Watts), wished her life was. She would be an innocent and amazing actress whose only reason for not getting a major role was solely due to some type of mob interfering. In this dream Rita (Laura Harring) would have lost her memory and need Betty to take care of her, causing the two to fall madly in love. However, after a strange scene in ‘Club Silencio,’ the two go back to Betty’s aunt’s apartment, where the dream would soon come to an end. In the reality half of the film, Diane (also Naomi Watts) was actually a failed actress who had paid a hit man to take out Camila (now Laura Harring), because Camila didn’t love Diane as she loved her. This leads to most likely some sort of a subconscious taking over Diane’s mind and driving her crazy until she eventually kills herself. Of course this a very vague overview and probably not completely accurate, but this is what most of us agreed upon.
Bruno then attempted to aid us in our breakdown of the film by introducing the philosophies of Jacques Lacan, a French psychoanalyst. Lacan claimed that there are three orders that exist in the world when talking about the brain, and psychoanalysis. The first is the imaginary, which basically holds our ego, or what we wish to become or wish we were. In the case of Mulholland Drive, this would relate to the first part of the film; with Rita and Betty. The second order is the symbolic, which is essentially a linguistic dimension which covers what we live and understand. This is prominently based through the structure of language. In relation to Mulholland Drive, this would be the second part of the narrative, and the actual existence of Daine’s character – basically real life. The third and final order is the real, which is quite confusing. The real doesn’t necessarily represent reality for Lacan, instead it opposes the imaginary and yet is greater and more extensive than the symbolic. Where as the symbolic needs something tangible such as language to exist, the real does not. It cannot be represented through order, all categories and words fail when trying to explain the real. In Mulholland Drive the real would refer to the man behind the diner, who holds the blue box. It is interesting to consider whether or not David Lynch had all of this in mind when making the film. Either way this was the closing ideas of our discussion before we had to fill in the class evaluations.