Final Paper

Final Paper - John Hawkins Expressive Cultures: Film Bill...

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John Hawkins Expressive Cultures: Film Bill Simon/Noah Tsika 3:30 – 4:45 May 10th, 2011 Final Exam: Nature and the Sexuality of the Outlaw Couple In Badlands and Bonnie and Clyde , the audience meets Bonnie Parker and Holly Sargis in strikingly similar manners. Each film introduces us to their respective female characters at the outset, almost immediately after the opening titles, in an air of innocence and foreboding. Holly Sargis is in her room, idly scratching her dog, talking to us through a voiceover with a tone that is filled with ennui, or simply boredom. The eerie, near ghostly tones of Erik Satie’s “Trois morceaux en forme de poire muddle the innocent image, however, and foreshadow the bloodshed to come. Likewise, in Bonnie and Clyde , the sense of foreboding is accomplished by a short prologue filled with black-and-white still shots from the Great Depression, showing images of misery, and detailing, in text, the criminal lives that Bonnie and Clyde are about to embark upon. Immediately after, we see Bonnie Parker in her room, as was Holly. She is utterly alone, pondering her reflection in the mirror, and completely nude save the makeup on her face. She smiles slightly at her reflection, hoping to at least impress herself if she has no one else to impress, and then, in a burst of violence, she begins smacking the bars of her bed like the confines of a prison cell. The tedium presented here, unlike Holly’s, is not boredom but despair. She seems to be literally waiting for a man. Her nudity is an obvious analogy to the
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Garden of Eden. Bonnie is an Eve without an Adam, looking for the serpent wherever it could possibly manifest itself, whether as a gun or as the touch of a man. Even the dialogue (or monologue in Holly’s case) is similar, marking parts of life that society would rather ignore: death, violence, and robbery. The delivery is markedly different in each instance. Holly speaks in a tenor beyond world- weariness while recounting what should be the most harrowing details of her young life to date. Portrayed alongside the image of her scratching her dog leads us to believe that she is thinking rather casually about how her, “Mother died of pneumonia when [she] was just a kid. [Her] father kept their wedding cake in the freezer for ten whole years. After the funeral he gave it to the yard man.” In Bonnie’s case, she has just encountered a man who clearly intended to steal her family’s car, but instead of arouse anger or apathy it incites her to carry on an extreme flirtation with him. She rolls her eyes suggestively, twirling her hair and bouncing sprightly around the lawn, and provocatively touching his gun as if it were “the real thing.” This all explodes in a feverish round of kisses as soon as she says “Pleased to meet you.” The character’s differing degrees of general passion, especially with respect to sexuality, is strikingly ironic considering the overall naturalism of Badlands . High respect for the beauty of the natural world is a string that carries
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Final Paper - John Hawkins Expressive Cultures: Film Bill...

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