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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
No matter how he shaves, he cannot stop bleed. And the blood goes all to waste!
A young man (Peter Bernuth) enters in a bathroom for his habitual morning shave. Everything's set, he does his shave perfectly but looks like he's not satisfied so he goes to shave it more and more to the point of bleeding, and he bleeds to the exhaustion until he has nothing more to cut in his face.
One of Martin Scorsese's first experiments behind cameras "The Big Shave" is interestingly well made, scary, quite humored (since all the shave is presented with a quiet music symbolizing a natural act and nothing more). But "The Big Shave" has different meanings to different viewers but one historical context is immersed in this short released in 1968 and this take must not be left out and that is the conflict in the Vietnam. A reading most scholars tend to make on this film is that the man shaving his beard represents America's greed and blind interest in the Vietnam war, who wants to demonstrate its enormous power and winning a situation that is already lost, and no matter how much they try to win this war they won't get nothing positive with that, it's all going to waste and it did. Same thing with the guy who keeps cutting himself over and over, almost drowning himself with his own blood but at least (don't ask me how) he knew how to stop. The war kept going for more 7 years...and the rest is a history of waste of money, waste of time, loss of humanity and the loss of countless human lives.
This reading is totally appropriate for the film but you can forget about that and simply watch the film as it is, in its simplicity and eccentricity, it's enjoyable the same way. Marty's exercise in telling this story is amazing, very gripping, a fine example of what he would make in years to come with classics like "Goodfellas", "Taxi Driver" and other masterpieces. His fans will like this short very much unless they're afraid of the amount of blood the main character will drop along the way. I really loved this film, the editing and the way it got poetic in showing one thing and meaning many others. 10/10
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