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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Falling Down

     I recently watched the movie "Falling Down", not for the first time. I've seen the movie several times and it always makes me thoughtful, in different ways.

     The Character of D-fens (William Foster) starts in a place where anyone can see themselves- A man having a very bad day. The movie follows him on his trip across L.A. to "go Home"- that is, to see his ex-wife and their child on his daughters birthday. His trip is a Stoic Odyssey on foot, crossing paths with situations that further aggravate him, and further fracture his mental state. I feel there is also something of an element of Arcade first person shooter- in his travels, he acquires objects and "weapon upgrades", sawn off bat to balisong, to a duffel with "every gun in the world". he also goes through something of a physical transformation, from his white shirt and tie to a fatigue jacket and boots.

     Following the trail of  D-Fens is Sergeant Prendergast, a good cop on his last day before retirement. He is working a desk job following being wounded in the line of duty, and counting the last hours until his retirement in Arizona. Prendergast is a man not popular among his colleagues, seemingly because he is too dignified, and too intellectual. The other detectives find him a bore, and an interference, his Captain considers him a coward, and effete. He trails sightings of the "white shirt and tie" from his abandoned car all the way to their final showdown in Venice Beach.

     There seem to be a lot of themes here- Order vs. Chaos, similarities or differences between the protagonist and antagonist. But I think the thing that always makes me the most thoughtful is I'm never really sure at what point I stop seeing myself in Foster. Who hasn't wanted to trash the store of a price gouger? Who hasn't wanted to stand up to a couple of gang thugs? who hasn't wanted to object to the disparity between what your meal looks like on the sign vs. what it looks like on the tray??

     So I'm never really sure at what stage I switch from vicarious thrills at D-Fens actions to the realization that he has gone too far. All I know is that I do see he has gone too far, when the character himself Does Not. All I know for sure is that his line at the end just kind of breaks my heart.

" I'm the bad guy? How did that happen?" Bill Foster in Falling Down


  1. Even though I haven't seen the movie, the ending line could be the summation of my 30 year marriage. The realization strikes deep. Press fast forward on the remote!

    1. Teresa, it's a good bit of transgressive fiction. Scary, too. Because so many of us are just so close to that line. Especially now.