Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Images and Feelings from 'Salem's Lot'

Near the closing of Hooper's Salem's Lot director's commentary, the director begins to spontaneously list off scenes that he is proud of, or fond of, probably in equal capacity.  He mentions three scenes first, seemingly pulled from the top of his head, and then goes on to mention other, more typical scenes: Mike Ryerson being "mesmerized by the grave," the floating children, etc.  Those first three scenes, though, one gets the sense are the scenes he really wants to point out.  They are all relatively small scenes.  These three scenes he first mentions are: Ben in the hospital (getting touched up by a nurse, having a serious conversation with Ed Flanders's Dr. Norton) after getting clocked by Ned Tebbets, "the lake" scene, and Ben and Bill Norton driving home from the funeral home after facing an undead Marjorie Glick.

Hooper gets his own sensibility.

These are all small scenes, but threaded with dark or hopeful tensions (tensions based in character), laced with odd formal decisions further underlining the tensions at play.  One also gets the sense Hooper may have an underlying fondness for Ed Flanders's earnest, deeply morose stare and pool-like, soulful green eyes.

The third scene, Ben and Bill Norton's ride home from the mortuary, contains one of Hooper's favorite moves for referring to the artifice of cinema - the car set piece and characters' interaction with unseen traffic - and for embodying the fierce presentational aspect of cinema meaning and artistry.  This is just as the story is intensifying, as the vibrating tremors of imminent and perceivable danger have finally entered the picture.  David Soul and Ed Flanders's inchoate back-and-forth in this scene is interrupted by an almost head-on collision, as if something was telling them to stop, as if human experience and the machinery of the world was at a permanent disjunction.

No wonder Hooper is such an advocate of character, because his form is so heavily dependent on our empathy. 


Stan G. said...

Man, I love this little essay!

JR said...

Thanks, Stan. (: