Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: Underlying message; references to other films


[Image at left from the Wikipedia 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011 film)' page; "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Poster",[a] licensed under fair use via Wikipedia.]

Welcome to the analysis of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. This film is a 2011 Swedish-American psychological thriller based on the novel of the same name by Stieg Larsson. This film adaptation was directed by David Fincher and written by Steven Zaillian. Starring Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara, it tells the story of journalist Mikael Blomkvist's (Craig) investigation to find out what happened to a woman from a wealthy family who disappeared forty years prior. He recruits the help of computer hacker Lisbeth Salander (Mara).[b]

One of the underlying purposes of the making of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, is to provide audiences with a depiction of the extent to which the Western world has become a worse place in which to live over the last several decades, such as there being many families in which the father is largely or completely absent. According to the National Center for Fathering, "[C]hildren from fatherless homes are more likely to be poor, become involved in drug and alcohol abuse, drop out of school, and suffer from health and emotional problems. Boys are more likely to become involved in crime, and girls are more likely to become pregnant as teens."[c] Other modern-day problems include extramarital affairs being not uncommon, and the fact that journalists who go against the 'status quo' are routinely punished or displaced, by certain parties having various agendas. Some of the text accompanying the screencaps below, describes how the movie-makers depict various negative aspects of modern society, while other screencaps depict allusions to other films made within The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Above left: Lisbeth's rapist (standing on left) is briefly portrayed in a sympathetic manner, when he offers to drive Lisbeth home after his rape of her. Above right: In a later scene in which Lisbeth wreaks extremely violent revenge on her rapist, what's being indicated is that women's commission of interpersonal violence can be more ruthless and remorseless than that committed by men. The two scenes taken together depict the fact that in the 'new world' of radical feminism, not only isn't there less violence against women, but women are allowed, and even encouraged, to strike out violently at men; for the radical feminist agenda is not truly to curb violence against women, but rather has as a primary goal, the sowing of discord between men and women. Lisbeth's announcement to the rapist before she tattoos him, that "there will be blood", is the key hint that references to other movies are being made within our film. (There Will Be Blood is a 2007 drama film written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson).



Top left and right: The rectangular black keys of the computer keyboard shown in the opening title sequence of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (top left), represent small monoliths from Stanley Kubrick's 1968 film, 2001: A Space Odyssey (top right - the rectangular black object is a monolith). Above left and right: This 'subterranean-like' passageway in our movie (above left), lends a feeling similar to that of this passageway on an alien spacecraft, in the 1979 film Alien (above right).



Top left and right: The first room Blomkvist checks upon his first viewing of his new residence, is the bathroom (top left). This is like astronaut David Bowman checking out the bathroom carefully in the 2001: A Space Odyssey 'hotel' scene sequence (top right). Above left and right: This plate of food and wine glass in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (above left), is meant to be an allusion to the meal David Bowman is shown eating in the 'hotel' scene in A Space Odyssey (above right; click image to enlarge).

Top left: A subway thief steals Salander's backpack. Top right: Instead of letting the thief go, Salander runs after him and attempts to start a fight. Above left: Even after the thief has clearly let go of the pack, Salander looms over him in a threatening manner, instead of taking advantage of this opportunity to get away. Above right: Now that Salander has egged on the thief, he goes after the pack again instead of running away, even though at least one bystander is in the process of calling the police (below left). Obtaining this particular pack has now become a matter of honor for the thief. Note that even at this point he's still only going after the pack - he's not physically attacking Salander's person; this is illustrative of how men virtually always 'hold back' when it comes to harming women. Salander eventually fights off the thief and recovers her backpack, but ends up with a broken computer screen (below right) due to the fighting.

Top left: Lisbeth rinses out her mouth after having forced oral sex. Top right: Blomkvist sprays breath freshener in his mouth. This scene being shown very shortly after Lisbeth's mouth-rinsing, is meant to suggest a link between Lisbeth and Blomkvist. In essence, each is 'contained' within the other, as suggested by the image on the movie poster (at the top of this post); therefore, they represent the complementarity of yin and yang. Above left: In the 'new world', casual sex via 'pick-up' is common among both straight and gay persons. Lesbianism in particular has relatively wide acceptance. Above right: As indicated by the failure of Lisbeth and Mikael to get together at the end of the movie, the situation in our new world is one in which yin and yang never unite in any kind of final manner. Speaking alchemically, if there is no chemical wedding then there is an incomplete citrinitas, and thus no rubedo (i.e., the alchemical process is incomplete). Note that Salander's hairstyle in this scene makes her appear as if she is wearing a Jewish kippah on her head.

a. Poster for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: The poster art copyright is believed to belong to Columbia Pictures.
b. Wikipedia, 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011 film)'. Web, n.d. URL =
c. National Center for Fathering, "The Consequences of Fatherlessness". pp. 1, 2. Web, n.d. URL =

Monday, August 27, 2012

Taxi Driver - Analysis of the Movie - part 1: Introduction and plot synopsis


[Image at left from the Wikipedia 'Taxi Driver' page; "Taxi Driver original movie poster",[a] licensed under fair use via Wikipedia.]

Welcome to the analysis of Taxi Driver. Buttons at the bottom of each post enable navigation through the parts of the analysis. Regarding the appearance of possible anti-Semitism on this blog, please see the 'Disclaimers' section near the bottom of this page.

Taxi Driver is a 1976 American thriller film directed by Martin Scorsese and written by Paul Schrader. The film is set in New York City, following the Vietnam War.

Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) is a lonely and depressed young man, an honorably discharged U.S. Marine, living in New York City. He becomes a taxi driver in order to cope with chronic insomnia, driving passengers every night around the boroughs of New York. He also spends time in seedy 'porn' theaters and keeps a diary.

Above left: Travis (standing) applies for a job as a taxi driver. Above right: Travis writes in his diary.

Eventually Travis develops a romantic attachment to Betsy (Cybill Shepherd), a campaign volunteer for Senator Charles Palantine (Leonard Harris), who is running for a Presidential nomination. After watching her through her office window, Travis enters to volunteer as a pretext to talk to her (above left), and after her workday is over, he takes her out for coffee and some food (above right). During this get-together, Betsy tells Travis that he reminds her of a Kris Kristofferson song; she recites a portion of the lyrics from this song (as she remembers them): "He's a prophet and a pusher, partly truth, partly fiction, a walking contradiction." When Travis says, "I'm no pusher - I never have pushed", Betsy explains that it is "just the part about the contradictions" that reminds her of Travis.

Above left and right: Travis isn't a drug dealer, but he is a substance abuser.

Not long after the meal with Betsy, Travis goes to a record store and buys the Kristofferson album (The Silver Tongued Devil and I, released in 1971), which includes the song Betsy quoted from, The Pilgrim - Chapter 33. The portion of the song Betsy recited is, in full, "He's a prophet, he's a pusher-- / He's a pilgrim and a preacher, and a problem when he's stoned-- / He's a walkin' contradiction, partly truth and partly fiction." (listen on YouTube here).

Later, teenage prostitute Iris (Jodie Foster) enters Travis's cab, attempting to escape her pimp, "Sport" (Harvey Keitel). Sport drags Iris from the cab and throws Travis a crumpled twenty-dollar bill, which continually reminds him of her.

Top left: Iris in Travis's taxi. Top right: Iris's pimp, Sport, pulls Iris from the cab. Above left: Sport throws Travis a twenty-dollar bill. Above right: The crumpled bill continually reminds Travis of Iris.

Travis takes Betsy to see a sex film, which offends her, so she goes home alone. His attempts at reconciliation by sending flowers are rebuffed so he berates her at the campaign office, before being kicked out by Tom (Albert Brooks).

Travis confides in fellow taxi driver Wizard (the balding man in the screencap at left) about his worrisome thoughts. Wizard advises Travis to go out and get laid or get drunk, then a little later in the conversation, he tells Travis to relax and things will be fine.

Disgusted by the street crime and prostitution that he witnesses throughout the city, Travis finds a focus for his frustration and begins a program of intense physical training (below left). He buys guns from dealer Easy Andy (below right).

Travis constructs a sleeve gun to attach to his arm (shown at left); he then practices drawing his weapons.

One night, Travis enters a convenience store moments before an attempted armed robbery and he shoots and kills the robber. The shop owner takes responsibility for the shooting, taking Travis's handgun.

Some time later, Travis hires Iris, but instead of having sex with her, he tries to dissuade her from continuing in prostitution (below left). They meet for breakfast the next day (below right), and during the meal, he attempts to persuade her to return home to her parents.

Later, after shaving his head into a mohawk, Travis attends a public rally at which he intends to assassinate Senator Palantine, but Secret Service agents notice him and he flees.

Above left: Travis at Senator Palantine's rally. Above right: Senator Palantine (center, with arms outstretched) speaking at the rally.

Travis returns to his apartment and then drives to the East Village, where he confronts Sport. Travis shoots and injures him, then walks into Iris's brothel and shoots the brothel's bouncer, injuring him. After Sport shoots Travis in the neck, seriously wounding him, Travis shoots Sport dead. A thug appears and shoots Travis in the arm, but Travis reveals his sleeve gun and kills the thug. The bouncer continues to harass Travis, so Travis stabs him, then shoots him in the head, killing him. As a horrified Iris cries, Travis attempts suicide but, out of ammunition, resigns himself to a sofa until police arrive. When they do, he places his index finger against his temple gesturing the act of shooting himself.

Above left: Travis shoots the bouncer in Iris's building. Above right: Travis feigns shooting himself with his left index finger.

Later, after recuperating from being in a coma, Travis receives a letter (below left) from Iris's parents who thank him for saving her and the media hail him as a hero. Travis then returns to his job and encounters Betsy as a fare. While riding in his cab, she mentions that she read about him in the paper. Travis drops her off for free (below right). He glances anxiously at something (or someone) in his rear view mirror as he drives away.[b]

a. Poster for Taxi Driver: The poster art copyright is believed to belong to the distributor of the film, the publisher of the film or the graphic artist.
b. Wikipedia, 'Taxi Driver'. Web, n.d. URL =

All song lyrics in this post are believed to be used in accordance with the U.S. Copyright Fair Use Act (Title 17 U.S. Code).

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Taxi Driver analysis - part 6: Wrapping up: References to Taxi Driver in other films

Top left: The inception team picks up Robert Fischer, in Christopher Nolan's Inception. Top right: Betty and Rita are headed to Diane Selwyn's apartment, in David Lynch's Mulholland Drive. Above left: Cab driver Esmarelda VillaLobos has picked up boxer Butch Coolidge, in Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction. Above right: Most of the action in Michael Mann's Collateral centers around taxi driver Max Durocher and his passenger, Vincent.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Taxi Driver analysis - part 5: Scorsese's hint to us about the ending of '2001'



Top Left: At the moment when Travis (with his back to us), confronts the bouncer in the building out of which Iris operates (recall from part 2 of this analysis, that this building represents the monolith from Stanley Kubrick's 1968 film, 2001: A Space Odyssey), the bouncer raises his right hand toward Travis, and he is heard saying, "Hey--!" just before being shot in the hand by Travis, at which point he abruptly stops speaking. Within a metaphorical context, what the bouncer has said here can be considered to be a word fragment that sounds like the first part of the word "hail", as in, "Hail Hitler!" (spoken in German as "Heil Hitler!", by those loyal to Nazism). Since Travis represents the historical hippies (within a certain context, as discussed in part 2), director Martin Scorsese, by here drawing a correspondence between Travis and Nazism, is metaphorically depicting the hippies themselves as being like Nazis. Also, it is said that Roman soldiers mocked Jesus at his crucifixion by saying, "Hail, king of the Jews!" Scorsese is making a reference to this statement also (in addition to "Hail Hitler"), but the implication isn't that Travis represents Jesus - instead, a 'correspondence' between Nazis and certain evil Jews (and by implication, between hippies and these Jews) is here being drawn. Top right: Spectators giving the Nazi salute during German occupation of Czechoslovakia, 1938.[a] Generally speaking, a person raising his or her arm in order to flag down a taxi, looks not unlike someone giving a Nazi salute. Thus, the fact that the people of New York City 'hail' Travis as he drives around in his cab, serves as further indication that the entities he represents are the evil ones just mentioned (hippies/evil Jews). It also symbolizes the idea that the American public itself, as represented by the populace of New York City, where the film is set, has effectively come to be loyal to all that Travis represents. Above left and right: Astronaut David Bowman raises his right hand toward the monolith at the end of A Space Odyssey. (The monolith is the large black rectangular object at the foot of Bowman's bed, as shown in the above right screencap.) The hint Scorsese has given us about A Space Odyssey, via the Taxi Driver scene depicted in the top left screencap, is that the gesture by Bowman represents, in part, a Nazi salute to the monolith. Since the monolith was planted by an alien race, and since this alien race represents 'evil femininity' (i.e., radical feminism, as indicated in the 2001 analysis), Bowman is here giving a Nazi salute to radical feminism (and to 'evil Jewishness', as explained in the 2001 analysis).

a. Image from the Wikipedia 'Nazi salute' page; Bundesarchiv Bild 183-H13160, Beim Einmarsch deutscher Truppen in Eger by Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-H13160, licensed under CC-BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0 de, via Wikimedia Commons.


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Marcus Aurelius's Meditations - from Wikisource (except where otherwise noted); portions from Wikisource used on this blog are released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

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