Saturday, April 27, 2013

Miller's Xing

The Coen brothers created a very interesting genre film with their fast-talking gangster flick, Miller's Crossing. It celebrates previous classical conventions of the genre all while providing its own unique spin on the age old conventions. However, it is not strictly a nostalgic classical gangster movie. It also takes newer conventions of the genre from its revisionist period. Therefore in the genre itself, it becomes a mixed genre piece to an extent blending two different styles and periods of the genre. By doing so, it is able to provide unique and often unseen perspectives of common themes of the genre such as The American dream, the effects of capitalism,  and outlooks of society.

Time for a good old fashioned American beatdown, right?
In Miller's Crossing, the world of the gangsters is very multidimensional compared to classical gangster movies while still maintaining very rich iconography and archetypes. It presents a similar yet subtler more nuanced point of view on the effects of capitalism. The film shows some of the horrors it can bring about, but it is nowhere near as overt as films like Scarface. It merely presents the events and lets the audience have more freedom to interpret them. It shows that everyone in this world is only in it by themselves. There is truly few that can be trusted and trust can often be misplaced. It is a cold and harsh reality of the capitalist world. People are talk fast and loyalties are tossed around in the blink of an eye. A loyal friend can be killed in a moment's notice if disloyalty is suspected even falsely. Tom is very aware of this and ends up using this to his advantage. He knows the world and how to manipulate it to succeed. He's like a well trained stock broker in a twisted sense- he buys and sells allegiances and people like commodities. He's hardened by this world and his journey during the film only continue to harden him- he chooses to kill instead of give forgiveness. 
Standing up for the little man just comes back to haunt, Tom....
The role of society in the film is very unique. It provides a more morally grey viewpoint. It shows the whole world as corrupt- the gangsters and the law. This is not indicative of the classical period and more so a trait of the revisionist period in the genre. The mayor himself is corrupt and below the gangsters. The true king of the city is the head of the leading gang. The struggle for leadership can almost be seen as a ruthless campaign between two candidates for the office of king of the city. A very surprising moment which reveals the moral decay of the society comes when the police mercilessly shoot down unarmed gangsters when the step outside. It really does paint a good picture of what this society has become and the rules of the world. 


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