Friday, November 18, 2005

Department of Unexpected Poignancy

A couple weeks ago, I was revisiting Jim Jarmusch's first film, Stranger Than Paradise. My father wandered into the room, as he is wont to do whenever someone is watching a movie and he comes upstairs from his study to take a break from work, and so he watched for a while, and was asking about it. So I was explaining who Jim Jarmusch is, and said that I thought his best film, and one I am sure my dad would like, is Down by Law.

And so the other day, when I was in the library, I noticed they had Down by Law on DVD, so I checked it out and brought it home for my dad to watch if he wanted. Well, who knows if he'll watch it or not, but *I* decided to watch it (I'm watching it at this moment in fact) on this, my last night in Ann Arbor.

But this is my point. When the opening sequence came up, it suddenly dawned on me that this is a *New Orleans* film; and especially the opening sequence. It's long been one of my favorite openings -- for the cinematography (black & white, slow-mo, and wide angle) as well as for the music ("Jockey Full of Bourbon," by Tom Waits) -- but the poignant moment for me came as it suddenly dawned on me that everything in that sequence must now be gone. Forever. In effect the film has been transformed from feature to documentary (as, no doubt, many others have as well; in this, of course, Down by Law is not unique). And, well, I found that poignant.