Monday, May 19, 2008

I Am Not An Animal...


Many years ago I worked with a woman named Paula, a deeply religious woman who belonged to some obscure branch of Christianity that I cannot immediately recall. Although her and I were polar opposites, we managed to find enough common ground to get along.

One of my great loves in life has always been cinema, but that was not a good topic of conversation for the two of us as she watched very few movies. A prime example is my mentioning of Darth Vader in passing, a character she had never heard of.

Okay, never seeing Star Wars? Sure, I can buy it. Although it's rare to meet somebody who hasn't seen those films, they ARE out there. But seriously, not knowing DARTH VADER? The American Film Institute ranked him the third greatest film villain of all time, beaten out only by Hannibal Lecter and Norman Bates. Darth Vader ranked higher than the WICKED WITCH OF THE WEST. I'm assuming pretty much EVERYBODY knows who SHE is. It's not like he has unique or recognizable features.

Argh. Okay, my inner geek is getting the best of me.

Anyways, one day her and I were stuck doing menial work together and we got to discussing movies. And from this innocuous discussion came one of the greatest things I've ever heard.

Paula: We watched a movie last night. It was the funniest movie I've ever seen.

Me: Really? What was it called?

Paula: The Elephant Man.

The following is a snippet of the plot description taken from Wikipedia:

A surgeon at the London Hospital - Frederick Treves - discovers John Merrick in a Victorian freak show in London's East End, where he is managed by the brutish Bytes. Merrick is so hideously deformed that he must wear a hood and cape when in public. Bytes further claims this exhibit to be an imbecile. Treves is professionally intrigued by Merrick's condition and pays Bytes to bring him to the London Hospital so that he can examine him. He then presents a lecture to his colleagues on Merrick's peculiar physique, dispassionately displaying him as a prize physiological curiosity. Treves draws attention to the oversized deformities of Merrick's skull: it is his most obvious disability and (as he was so informed by Bytes) also the most life-threatening, as he is compelled to sleep sitting with his head resting upon his knees, as the weight of his skull would cause a fatal constriction of his windpipe (asphyxiation) if he were to ever lie down. On Merrick's return, Bytes beats him so severely that a sympathetic apprentice alerts Treves, who attempts to take him back to the hospital.

Okay, that little bit of joy is only taken from the first thirty minutes or so of the
constant yuk-fest that is The Elephant Man. A cavalcade of whimsy this film is not.

Of course, all I could manage was a flat stare, followed by:

Me: The Elephant Man? Really? I hadn't realized that one was a comedy.

Well, after a little bit of discussion I devised that she was actually talking about the Bill Murray film "Larger Than Life" and not, in fact, The Elephant Man.

I would have to say, however, that having The Elephant Man branded as the greatest comedy of all time was just fantastic. It was only made better by the fact that if I hadn't corrected her, she might have said that to others as well, propagating the mistaken belief that The Elephant Man was humorous.

As a result, anytime that movie is mentioned in my presence, I point out how hilarious it was. Truly a modern comedy classic.

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2 comments:

Red Squirrel said...

Well, this is all culture-specific. SW _are_ big in Russia (though I, personally, only saw the Phantom Menace), but other movies you mentioned aren't. Ok, "Silence of the Lamb" is, but I haven't seen it, either. )

E said...

I certainly can't argue that point, but this did happen in the USA, and Star Wars is a large part of the American conscious.

If you've only seen Phantom Menace, do yourself a favor and see The Empire Strikes Back. That's the best of the lot.

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