Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Point Blank

I finally got to see the Sixties film Point Blank starring Lee Marvin last week. Lee Marvin plays a man called Walker who is shot by his partner after they, with the help of Walker's wife, commit a successful robbery at the deserted prison on the island of Alcatraz . Walker is left for dead and the partner takes off with Walker's share of the money and his wife. Only Walker isn't dead and the rest of the movie follows him as he searches for his ex-partner and tries to get his money.

After watching it I can see why people either love it or hate it. I love it. Point Blank starts out as a revenge movie but something about it isn't quite right. It is surreal, disjointed, and dreamlike in many ways with jumps in time and space. There is one scene where Walker picks up an object he had broken earlier and drops it, breaking it again. I think this movie is a version of the short story, An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge, by Ambrose Bierce. Walker, dead or dying, is dreaming the whole thing.

There are clues that this may be true. The last time we see Walker on Alcatraz he is stepping half-naked into the water surrounding the island while we hear the voice of an Alcatraz Island tour guide saying, "Around the island there are treacherous currents rendering it virtually escape proof. The water temperature is usually 50 degrees."

The next instant we are in the tour boat with Walker. He is undamaged and wearing a suit. He is standing with another man. The man ask him, "How did you make it Walker?"
Walker gives no answer.

Then we hear the tour guide say about another escape attempt,"All indications point to their being swept out with the tide to the Golden Gate to a watery grave."

There are lots of moments in the movie where people imply Walker is dead or dying:

His wife: "I dream about you. How good it must be, being dead."

His sister-in-law: "You're suppose to be dead."

His sister-in-law: "You died at Alcatraz, alright."

Again, his sister-in-law: "You're a pathetic sight from where I'm standing. Chasing shadows. You're played out. It's over. Finished...Why don't you lay down and die."

One man says to him, " Fairfax is dead. He just doesn't know it yet." Is he implying Walker is dead and doesn't know it either?

Then there is a moment where it seems that Walker is not sure he is alive either:

Woman: Walker! You still alive?
Walker: Are you?

Is Walker really just dreaming the whole thing? Who cares, it's still a great movie. Watching it today it is hard to understand how it was dismissed as a violent, bloody, waste of time when it was first released.

Movie trailer for Point Blank here.

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