Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Andy Hardy Gone Oedipal

Martins Arnold’s experimental film, Alone, Life Wastes Andy Hardy, is a playfully manipulated version of the classic Andy Hardy films. In this film, Arnold uses forward-and-back looping as he speeds up, slows down, reverses, and reorders images and sound to convey subversive subtexts and satirize the original version. The storyline suggested by Arnold revolves around an Oedipal romance between Andy (Mickey Rooney) and his mother and the love triangles created by Andy’s father and Judy Garland’s character. The film shows this through the collaboration of manipulated fragments of the original film of Andy engaging in suggestive play with his mother who seems to enjoy it, Andy’s father smacking him afterwards, Judy Garland coming between Andy and his mother, and Andy’s mother’s jealousy.

Andy’s underlying sexual attraction to his mother can be seen in the first part of the film. In this scene, Andy casually kisses his mother’s cheek. This seemingly ordinary and innocent scene suddenly turns into a drama of sexual excitement and yearning when the film manipulates Andy’s body to seemingly thrust into his mother back and forth while his mother’s twitching lips expresses longing and desire.

When the father slaps Andy violently, Andy decides to give up his lust for his mother by saying “alright.” This part portrays Freud’s Oedipal model, the male child who desires his mother but fears being castrated by his father displaces his desire onto another woman. That is where Judy Garland comes in. Once she enters, the mother can no longer keep her place in Andy’s sexual fantasy. Yet, Andy still can’t seem to get rid of his compulsive sexuality that exists in his relationship with his mother as his romantic kiss with Judy Garland turns into nervous breath that indicates his animalistic sexual desire.

I thought the way this film was edited is closely related to Manovich’s The New Temporality: The Loop as a Narrative Engine. By using numerous repetitions and loops from the original film, a new narrative of the film is created. The traditional optimistic film that idealizes family and the domestic sphere turns into a naughty and provocative Oedipal drama.

I also find it interesting how the techniques that were used in this film made humans look unattractive. Constant looping and repetition makes humans resemble robots. In her singing scene, Judy Garland, who is normally beautiful and talented, looked mechanical, silly, and even dumb. Also, the kiss between Andy and Judy Garland’s character was presented as an automatic action, one that was programmed in them, in humans, void of any meaning or purpose.

Overall, I really enjoyed the film. I thought it was very clever, unique, witty, and entertaining. I loved Arnold’s sarcastic humor towards classical Hollywood films that absolutely worship the ideal of a perfect family at home with a happily-ever-after ending.



Blogger Dan B (no, not Bennett, think harder) said...

Speaking of Judy Garland, there is an exciting and popular new group on Yahoo called THE JUDY GARLAND EXPERIENCE. The group features amazingly rare audio files, great photo's, lively discussions and more. The membership includes Garland family members, new fans, old fans, authors, historians, everyone is welcome. Please come by and check out our little Judyville, you may never want to leave.

4/04/2007 6:30 AM  
Blogger Silbi Song said...

Are you being serious, Dan?

4/05/2007 12:17 AM  

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