09 January 2007

In Cold Blood

This month is pretty historic -- I've managed to write five entries so far (including this one)!!! It seems this mania is not going to stop. Let's see how long this blog craze can go.

Capote is one of the most beautifully painful films I've watched. The message is clear -- one cannot avoid exploitation and appropriation in an act of writing. There's also violence and a writer is always engaged in Foucauldian power relations, whether s/he is aware or not. In writing a new form of 'non-fiction', Truman Capote, whether he's conscious or not, shows us that the writer can never act as a sheet of transparent glass. Capote is never innocent in retelling the story of the cruel crime and in fact he himself can be considered as a 'murderer', no less cold-blooded by the two criminals who are executed at the end of the film.

In fact, we simply cannot blame just Capote. It's the whole publishing industry, which creates competitive atmosphere where writers are compelled to find something new and original to offer to the hungry public. Capote succeeds in this world and becomes a writer hungry to be in the limelight, enjoying being the centre of attention telling people stories. In writing his most famous book In Cold Blood he also suffers from this hunger and ambition, being put in an awkward situation whereby he needs to squeeze information out of the two criminals, one of which (Perry Smith) is portrayed as somehow more benign than him, blindly regarding Capote as a true friend and never suspecting that Capote's got a hidden motif in this friendship.

However, no one emerges innocent from this film. Capote's incident, in which the writer himself didn't seem to survive his guilt of extorting information from an 'innocent' criminal 'in cold blood', makes us revise how we look at other authors, such as Harper Lee, who also seem to have a benign cause in portraying lives of the less unfortunate and become commercially successful in the course of this. Capote the film makes us see the underside of this 'benign' business and shows us that true innocence and good will in this publishing industry are questionable. Even the film itself in rendering the life of Truman Capote also commits the same crime of thriving on the misery of another person's life. The irony is subtle and sad, hence the indescribably 'sad and clinical' sentiment of the whole film. Perhaps this business of exploitation is unavoidable. Even I myself writing a review of this film can also be construed as participating in this sad business. So maybe this is a good point to stop.

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