This short film is a metaphor for the Vietnam War. A man walks into a meticulously clean and sterile bathroom, concentrating on the polished porcelain and shiny metal motif. He then proceeds to shave. When his face is clean, however, he only continues to shave until he pierces through his skin. Blood covers him and falls around him, the red contrasting the perfect spotlessness of the bathroom. Written by
Joseph D. Guernsey
This film is closely related to my adolescence ... rather iconic. I've seen it only once a few months after completing fourteen years of age (1970). Back then, the UCSD had a very active cine-club ... and thanks to it I had access to films like La Jetée, Young Aphrodite, Midnight Cowboy, Catch-22, Deep Throat (in which I fell asleep after its first five minutes) and many others.
At first I found it rather boring and unappealing. A man shaving ... definitely isn't something a pubescent male teenager would care for, but since it's only six minutes long ... soon, the whole intended idea started to fall in place. The flowing and perfectly edited strong images left me totally assured that I was watching a powerful work of art and criticism. As the years passed by, the film's images were surely imprinted in my memory ... but the title simply vanished from all recall efforts. Once I got acquainted with IMDb's message boards, I posted a message asking about which could its title be ... promptly and correctly answered by an user signing as Weeping Prophet.
Usually The Big Shave is understood as a hyperbolic criticism towards America's engagement in the Vietnam war. While at a very shallow level it can be understood as so, the deeper message is very prophetic encompassing the whole future of America's mainstream film productions concerning the glorification of violence in itself. Well, in those happy days of open confrontation and anti-war rallies I understood it as a film about our everyday acts of self-destruction undertook as a matter of fact events ... including America's vaguely justified involvement in the civil war going on in Vietnam.
It's a film everyone should watch and one of Scorsese's most powerful films.
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