“I could tell you stories that’d curl your hair, but it looks like you’ve already heard em.”

This post is a bit random, but after watching Miller’s Crossing I decided to rent another Coen brothers film. I chose Barton Fink—and wow. What a film.
I wanted to talk about it for a bit, even though it’s not technically part of our class material. Since I watched it, which was a few hours ago, so many parts of it have been continuously running through my mind, I suppose trying to find some clarity. There are a few parts that definitely stand out in my mind, though. If you haven’t seen it yet, quit reading and go rent it. For real.
First of all, towards the end when the hotel is burning and Charlie returns. I can only imagine that the hotel is now symbolic of hell, maybe it was all along. The opening scene seemed normal, things were proportional and fairly normal. The stage, the restaurant—but as soon as Barton arrives at the hotel, things are a bit odd. One of the first, if not the first shot of the hotel is a huge room with tons of chairs, placed almost symmetrically, everything with varying patterns that do not necessarily compliment each other. To me it seemed like two totally different dimensions—either a dream, or what I now believe must have been hell.
The hallway was another aspect that stood out in my mind. So long, so dark, so… similar. The doors seemed the same and it seemed to be endless. And the shoes! Every day there was a pair of shoes outside each door. But do we ever see people? No. I think that’s another aspect that led me to believe this place had somewhat of a hell-like quality. When Barton is there, really the only person he has contact with is Charlie, who, judging from the end, I can only imagine is a devil-like figure. It’s not a place where people hang out and chat with each other, everyone is confined to their own areas in a place that is quite poorly constructed, drab, dreary… downright depressing.
I feel like within the hotel, each vice that Barton encounters is a progression down into another depth of hell. I want to watch the movie again to really develop that theory more, but it just seems as though each hurdle that comes is more severe than the last, ending in the final fire-soaked scene before he is out and on the beach.
I have to talk about the package. I don’t know how right I am about any of these theories, but the first thought that struck me was that this was his burden that he must carry though life. I mean, he makes no attempt to open it, he knows exactly what Charlie has been up to so clearly he knows what it could quite possibly contain… and he carries it around with him. It’s the burden that he must carry, and I felt like before his trip to the hotel/hell, he wasn’t able to really live with that… but the scene on the beach shows us that he can travel through life with it, he’s learned to live with it.
There’s so much more about this movie, I just wanted to get a few thoughts out because, well, I thought it was pretty awesome. In class the other day Dr. Campbell mentioned, I believe, how the Coen brothers are thought to be very cerebral writers/directors/etc… and while I think that might be true, I have to say I enjoyed having to really think about what I was watching. Its comedic aspect, too, was brilliant—legitimately funny. I enjoyed that aspect of it as well. The satire of the 30’s-40’s (I believe that’s the correct period) was also pretty brilliant. Hopefully I’ll be able to watch it again and pick up on much more! And, I’m done.