Monday, October 14, 2013

Papillon's Story Is Finally Complete and Finished

Whenever the South American nation of Guiana is mentioned, most, if not all of us, think of the Steve McQueen–Dustin Hoffman film, Papillon. After all, this classic prison tale—set in the penal colony of French Guiana and its offshore solitary-confinement counterpart, Devil’s Island—put Guiana on the populace’s proverbial map.

So it should be no surprise that when I received an e-mail today mentioning a Guyanese man in a mildly amusing anecdote, I reflexively thought of this great film. Now, the e-mail is almost certainly a fabrication—I could find no verification of it on the Internet. Still, I couldn’t help but think that this anecdote should have constituted the narration at the end of Papillon, rather than the brief explanation of the infamous French prisoner’s ultimate fate and the destiny of the penal colony.*
* Although I believe that this colorful anecdote should have been spoken—like the film’s actual postscript—rather than shown, I have included it below as text because I can't afford to pay the original narrator to call each one of you and speak it.

Frankly, I’m surprised some innocuous yarn wasn’t used as the film’s postscript, considering how ardently Hollywood demands a happy ending. After all, what could provide a happier ending than a slightly charming, somewhat-clichéd slice of life about the trials of domesticity to which many of us not incarcerated in a pestilential jungle hellhole can relate?
 Sure, Papillon “made it to freedom,” but he made it several months after the end of World War II—too late to do his duty for France by surrendering to the Germans…certainly a sadder ending to the film than the brief, wry smile provided by this anecdote.
I fully expect the contents of this e-mail to replace the film’s original postscript when Papillon is inevitably re-released in 2023 for its golden anniversary.

(Images fromPapillon copyright Allied Artists.)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Creepy Rabbit...Your Tricks Better Not Be for Kids!

In preparing my immediately previous post (“Good at Blocks…But Still a Blockhead?” of September 30), I Google-Imaged “Tetris gif” in hopes of finding a suitable animated GIF of a Tetris game in progress to demonstrate the game’s object. Unfortunately, no such GIF was available through Google Images.

However, I did stumble upon this bizarre and disturbing GIF about three-quarters of the way down the page…

Now, I don’t know the source of this psychotic video clip, nor can I ascertain its meaning. And I sure don’t know what the hell it has to do with Tetris. Some things just defy deconstruction…

Yet I must admit, for all of its creepiness, this GIF borders on dangerously hypnotic. Why is the rabbit in a human bathroom? Why is the rabbit inviting you into the stall? Is it sexual? We don’t even know the rabbit’s gender. Rabbits are well-known for their timidity, so why the change of heart? Is there any sociopolitical or religious meaning behind its invitation? Is there enough paper for both of you? Is this the inevitable backfire of the hated pay-toilet’s demise? (‘Cause, let’s face it, those huge, inflexible paws ain’t manipulating a dime into the slot…)

Too many unanswered—and perhaps unanswerable—questions. Probably best left that way. All I really know is that Tetris is now ruined for me. Whenever I get into a habit of playing Tetris for extended periods, I experience what is called the “Tetris effect,” in that, for many minutes after closing my eyes while awaiting sleep, images of the game unstoppably and maddeningly continue vividly in my mind as if I were still in front of the computer screen.

And now I fear that this awful and completely insane image will exert the same effect on my brain. I urge you, Dear Reader, to move on to another Mount Drinkmore post right now, so that you do not find yourself plagued by the “Creepy Rabbit effect”—which will surely drive you to madness and cause you to pathologically frequent public restrooms for reasons you don’t quite understand…

(For more on the destructive power of rabbits, see the Mount Drinkmore post, “Knowing: The Rabbits Are Coming, Doomsday, Doomsday!” of August 20, 2012, located in the archive at left, or use keywords film or nature.)