I thought the whole movie was much like the story the second rabbi told, and in that respect the whole film is brilliant. You all should just stop wondering what the teeth carvings mean and admit you don’t have an answer for everything.
The ending of this movie is similar to Aki Kaurismaki’s Ariel. Because bad things don’t stop happening to him, his son is about to be in the middle of a tornado, and apparently he has some kind of sickness eventhough he was told he was told, at first instance that he was healthy.
I think what many of you are saying is making sense, but does ANY of the “meanings” in the film make it a good film, a good story? Because for me, it does not at all. Sure the movie has inspired some deep thinking in me, yea sure thats all great, but does that make it a good film? In my opinion. it does not. I just simply did not enjoy it.
I have a different interpretation from you guys:
Remember the great teeth/Jimi Hendrix scene? Well the point in the story was to say how we don’t get many of our questions answered and the actions of God can be mysterious and unexplainable. So, the Coens (playing God as the directors) give us a mysterious, unexplainable, seemingly random ending.
And also I think I really enjoyed it more than a lot of people because I basically live in this. I’m a 14 year old boy who goes to a Jewish day school every day.
@E.P I’m just wondering, I thought it was hard for non-Jews to understand some things. Hashem ? Did you realize that was God? Ivrit ? Did you realize that was Hebrew? And the Zohar and Kabbalah etc., etc., etc. I’m just saying the jokes seemed hard for people to relate too. Unless of course you’re Jewish.
Sorry if you are.
Lol Banana Nut. No, I am not Jewish and I understand that there were jokes in the movie that only a Jewish person or someone with knowledge of the Jewish religion could understand. Although, the humor in this movie that I can understand I enjoyed. The movie as a whole was a well made movie like all of the other Cohen movies. For me, so much of the movie came off to me like dejavu. The storyline was very unoriginal in a crude sense because all of the characters in the film were very familiar. The main character-a closed mouth wimp who lets everyone walk all over him and whom you can laugh at, and the rebel, teenaged son who refuses to conform(whether it be in the Jewish religion or anything else- it doesn’t matter because we, Americans really all follow the same set of morals to conform or rebel from). So much of the movie made me feel like I’ve already seen this before. However, Banana Nut I respect your standpoint on the film as well as all other Jews who’ve seen the movie.
“Please, accept the mystery”
Thats a line from the film and to me it pretty much sums up the entire film, including the ending.
From my understanding of the film, the ending as such is the “logical necessity” followed from what is conveyed in the film.
Yes, if the film were an essay the ending would be the perfect closing paragraph.
The making of the film has certainly been unlocked: stereotypical characters, a few Jewish jokes, and a mysterious ending – voila !
the ending is mysterious so the film is about …. what about the beginning? was that mysterious?
Why was it set in the 60’s ? God more mysterious then?
I think we have the peanut butter sandwich syndrome here: if someone is seen eating a peanut butter sandwich, the film must be about lunch.
I just don’t see where the dislike for this film comes from.
Robert, what on earth do you mean?
“I’m just wondering, I thought it was hard for non-Jews to understand some things. Hashem ? Did you realize that was God? Ivrit ? Did you realize that was Hebrew? And the Zohar and Kabbalah etc., etc., etc. I’m just saying the jokes seemed hard for people to relate too. Unless of course you’re Jewish.
Sorry if you are.”
it does require some knowledge but i personally found it a simplistic guideline to what the Hebrew religion is all about, like a roller-coaster where one can open an encyclopedia later to learn of all the sightseeings they missed.
me being nothing but a devoted researcher of religions, i felt quite the joy to know nearly every Jewish pun in their screenplay and i don’t feel any “issue” lies on that detail. that doesn’t mean i was pleased by the film overall although the ending fixed things the way i imagined them to be during the whole process.
too bad because the introductory premise was mighty clever.
The screenplay was unapologetically Jewish. Knowledge of the Jewish religion seemed necessary to get a good third of the movie’s main points. I’m not being ignorant—I mean that’s good and all if your intended audience is Jewish people, but it seemed to me that the movie wanted to reach more than just Jews. Maybe that’s why I was turned off by the abrupt ending. It’s a cool trick and all, but it just made me mad that they introduced so many plot developments in the last 10 minutes and didn’t resolve any of it, let alone give an ending to the other 90 minutes.
I guess there’s supposed to be some deep message about the failings of religion or something.
Just finished being thrilled and philosophically stimulated by the picture.
I noticed that Larry and his brother are two sides of the same coin.
Both have complex intellectual or mathematical systems for describing the world.
They also put considerable stock in the LAW (the moral universe as defined by their faith).
They are after BIG answers, even if Larry doesn’t start asking the spiritual questions until
he hits that “rough patch.”
But outside the Judaic realm, they are big believers in empirical laws and forms,
yet their systems lead them to the Uncertainty Principle
(Even if you don’t understand it, you will be responsible for it on the mid-term,"
Larry tells his students in a dream.)
Using his obscure mathematical system in card games of chance,
Larry’s brother gets a big kick out of literally defying chance,
obviously to compensate for his own fate, which he laments at the pool.
Long story short, the brothers are shaking the tree of knowledge, either demanding answers (Larry)
or devising a means of using that knowledge (Larry’s brother).
Warnings against this, stern and mild, go unheeded. (Gambling is against the law here,
that’s just the way it is," say the two detectives. Larry seems to get a similar
message from his rabbi and Jewish friends.)
Well, Larry doesn’t begin to have any insights into what the rabbis were saying until
he is tempted by an Eve next door, whom he had earlier seen naked (and unashamed).
She asks Larry if he indulges in the “new freedoms.”
Once he does indulge in getting high, his new perceptions and fresh eyes (the rabbi recommended that)
allow him to begin a deeper contemplation of what he had been told.
But that process is soon interrupted by sirens: the “law” is taking Larry’s brother into custody.
Larry will not get a sitting with the old rabbi.
But his son does. And his son is also high when that happens.
The difference is that the young man really does have those “fresh eyes” and new perspective
that the young rabbi was on about.
The old rabbi then proceeds to relate wisdom that a young person of 1967 would appreciate,
referencing Jefferson Airplane and naming the members of the band.
In fact, it is pointed out that young people are the ONLY members of the congregation
to whom the rabbi offers any pastoral services.
But there’s also that lyric:
“When the truth is found to be lies,
And all the joy within you dies…”
That’s certainly a description of what’s happening to Larry.
The problem is that he wants to apply the empiricism of physics to the moral and religious realms,
and actually gets angry when the Korean students responds that actions “sometimes” have consequences.
“Always!” Larry comes back, slamming his hand to the desk.
So the story ends, leaving us to wonder if Larry will conclude that the
spiritual realm is defined by randomness and enigma (not cause and effect).
Or will he determine otherwise, once he learns what those X-rays mean, or after that tornado
takes away his son?
Any physicist knows that to observe something is to change it.
He’s demanded a chance to look at the meaning of life, and now those changes are arriving.
It’s a violation, not unlike what transpired in the garden of Eden.
my interpretation is here
this is what i wrote
My take on the movie.
The ending. The kid goes to pay Fagle, the kid, Danny Gopnick, he symbolizes to me, the North American consumer. Clueless about the effects of computerization on the psyche. The frog in the heating pot the Mr Bungle references in the song Egg, all of it is a reference to the vortex of information overload, some review called it a call to God. Okay. So? For what? A sign. If one can’t view a sign in the symbol of a tornado in the end of a movie, they don’t see signs.
Anyway. The vortex is info overload, which we all know, data deluge, all that shit. As has been written, things get sucked into the vortex, some sink, some don’t, those that don’t, are usually spherical, makes sense right? old is new, go around, come around. anyway.
Cultural differences. On the one hand, Clive’s dad wants Larry to accept the mystery that is life. If he doesn’t he is threatened with a lawsuit, a lawsuit of slander for something that can’t be proven, unless the very act of referencing the motivation behind the meeting of Clive’s dad and Larry is in and of itself included as defense for Larry under his guess of the probability of his hunch about Clive. To me, this is China (I know Clive is Korean in the movie, doesn’t matter, he’s Asian, in the same way that everyone represents regionally in one way or another, accurate or not, for accuracy you could say he’s whichever side of Korea doesn’t allow western influence) and Google.
One doesn’t want western culture influencing it’s society that is completely immersed in obligations to service the clueless needs, of yes, western culture. The other essentially wants to sell culture to the manufacturer enabling a culture it doesn’t want, based on information it isn’t allowed to have, simply because they don’t know any better.
So finite resources based on unusual and bizarre culture divides that are taken very seriously.
Dybbuk reference, it could mean many things, cultural misperceptions of east and west, spiritual ignorance, who knows.
The rabbi’s advice: when there is no hope, we are the sum total of our actions. so, since we don’t know what that means either, be good.
Clueless about the effects of computerization on the psyche.
Especially in the 1960’s …..
guys, check out the production notes to the film on FOCUS FEATURES web page. There’s an article speaking to the meaning, morality and subtext of the film. Highly based on the book of JOB and semi-autobiographical.
This movie is a huge piece of crap! No meaning. No subtance. It is almost as bad as the poem about the red wheel barrow in the rain upon which so much depends! Garbage! I paid real American dollars to watch this! Great job Coen Brothers! You have stolen my money!
Some further reading for Jason. This film is excellent.
I thought this was the best Coen Bros film for a while. The ending was perfect. The meaning? I don’t know – that God is cruel or indifferent? Or that “God” isn’t there…?
I got more chuckles from this film than with Burn After Reading, which is one of the few Coen Bros films that I cared very little for.
Josh…no further reading is necessary. There would not be questions about the meaning of this film if the writer(s) had actually connected with a majority of the audience. The vast majority of the audience of this film do not understand or see any meaning within the work. The entire point of making a film or writing a book or writing a poem is to convey a message that your audience will understand and relate with. If the message is not understood, then it is a failure on the part of the writer. Abstract art is crap.
That’s ridiculous, but have it your way.
Josh…Is it ridiculous to connect with your audience? What exactly do you find ridiculous? Show this film to 100 random people and see if they find any meaning within the work. Show it to 100 randon people who are stoned and you will have excellent results! They find meaning in everything!
Jason, the link I provided will let you in on many possible meanings for the film. Art that demands you think isn’t bad art, I would argue it’s the most important.
Read that thread and then tell me if you honestly think the film is crap. If you do then we can have a conversation.
That’s the thing Jason, people have different tastes. You don’t like it, you didn’t think there was a meaning, okay, congrats.
This movie just goes to show that the Coen Brothers are totally overrated and peaked with “The Big Lebowski.” As a previous poster said, open-ended endings are good if they are well done. This one is not. There are too many things left open. And seriously, throwing in a tornado? Cliche? Possibly. Cop out? For sure. Trying to define acts of “god” with an act of “god”…should you actually believe in such a thing as "god.’ It seems to me the Coen Brothers can only go so far in any of their stories and when they can’t figure out a resolution of any kind (open-ended or otherwise) they cop out and just end. Yes, we might not always know the answers to everything, but that doesn’t mean that there’s absolutely no conclusion. Unless, of course, it’s a Coen movie.
Josh…You miss my point entirely and you have proven it for me. Your link may explain the film entirely for all of humanity, but there should be no need for a link to understand the film. The meaning of the film should be transparent to anyone who has seen the film! Once again Josh…THE WRITER HAVE FAILED TO CONVEY THE MESSAGE TO THE AUDIENCE!
“Your link may explain the film entirely for all of humanity, but there should be no need for a link to understand the film. The meaning of the film should be transparent to anyone who has seen the film! "
I didn’t need the link to understand it… Everything isn’t meant to be understood by everyone. You may have failed to understand it, sure, but its going over your head doesn’t make it inherently awful. Clearly it’s wonderful for those that /were/ able to pick up on the meaning.
Okay—your point is that a film fails completely if it is not immediately accessible? Fine, that’s just where you and I differ.
I would hope you might find it interesting, nonetheless, to discover the film’s actual substance and meaning (which you claim it does not have), at least as a diverting exercise, and then maybe reevaluate your position.
The writer’s did convey the message to the audience, it’s just that they presumed their audience was intelligent and engaged enough to work to understand the film. Their mistake, I guess?