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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
Rather disturbing short from director Martin Scorsese that acquires new meaning if you look closely.
There's no dialogue in The Big Shave, and the entire film takes place in a bathroom. Even short films don't get much simpler than this, but Scorsese's skillful direction is able to give this extremely simple story some meaning besides what is seen as you just watch it.
Some white guy (and this is noteworthy because of the proliferation of films about the Italian condition that Scorsese was making at the time) walks into the bathroom, having obviously just woken up, and proceeds to give himself a disturbingly brutal shave. If you have a weak stomach, you may be bothered by the striking amount of blood in the film, but this blood does have meaning. I've made several films myself at the junior college level that were all more technically complex than The Big Shave is, but you have to take into account the film's meaning before dismissing it as just a picture of a stomach turning shave.
This white guy walks into an immaculately clean bathroom and shaves, and then he puts more shaving cream on his face and shaves again, this time cutting himself up pretty badly. The things to consider here are the cleanliness of the bathroom when he walked in, as well as the fact that he didn't even really need to shave in the first place. I've even heard that The Big Shave is representative of America's reckless involvement in the Vietnam War, particularly our self-destructiveness. That may be a little bit of a stretch, or at least seem to be actually imposing meaning on the film rather than deriving meaning from it (that is, of course, if it wasn't for that alternate title, which may clear up any misunderstanding), but the possibility is very distinct.
Martin Scorsese made this film long before he became famous or well known, and his skill is evident in the film's simplicity, which is contrasted by the extensive meaning that it entails. Clearly, not many people have ever seen or heard of this film, and many would not care to, but as an insight into the filmmaking characteristics of Scorsese as well as a look at his early cinematic productions, it is a curiosity piece that is a must see.
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