Flow or Crash: Smoke Signals Analysis
Smoke Signals is a movie directed by Chris Eyre. What we can notice is that the movie emphasizes the relationships between people and especially the relationship Thomas takes into account Victor's advice. Neither Thomas nor Victor have a car or any use for cars on the Rez, and they Arnold says, "I broke three hearts that day too"(Smoke Signals). . The lack of spiritual connection perpetuated by western culture leads At the end of the film Victor resolves his problems with his dad an in turn heals him self. Thomas Builds-the-Fire.2 Thomas recites this poem while Victor dra- matically . no one has ex- tensively analyzed how it explores the relationship between fatherhood I usually show Smoke Signals in an upper-division undergraduate class . admit that he has a problem, Arnold denies it and runs away. Our cur-.
The public slowly understands why the two characters are the way they are and act the way they do. This is to allow this that the director chose to tell the story by mixing the present and the past During and after the travel relationships between the characters are going to change: At the beginning, Victor is mad at his father for being drunk all the time, for beating him and beating Arlene.
During the movie, several characters take physical journeys, they are not just physical but spiritual as well: The travel to Phoenix, Arizona helps him understand Arnold and he calms down. The trip also helps him reconciliate with Thomas. At the beginning Victor treats him as a child telling him what he has to do or not and acts as if he was a burden. Consequently their relationship becomes more stable. Thanks to the journey, the relation between Thomas and his grandmother evolves as well.
Their bonds are still very tight but at the end, the grandmother has understood that this week has modified the relationship between her grandson and his friend. Before her husband left, she was mad at him for the same reason her son was.
She was trying to make him fit into the right way. Despite all this she still loved him. We see it when she expresses her state of mind to Victor. When Arnold comes back from his long journey, she holds the ashes above her head to symbolize peace. Last but not least, the relation between the father and his girlfriend also changes, little by little.
At first they were mere acquaintances. He used to give Suzy a ride sometimes but one day the car breaks. They begin to walk and talk. From this moment they become confidants, keeping each other secrets. Except in this one, in all almost all the relations of the movie, there are problems of bitterness. For example, between Victor and Thomas, his father and also between his parents. Indeed something relates the two young men: This is one of the metaphors of the movie.
In the very beginning, it is defined as something destructive: Thomas compares it to the general Custer. He also mentions children born in flames that burn everything they touch.
Yet, fire is progressively defined as something else. Then, fire is something that pushes your acts. For example, at the end of the movie the carwreck scene Victor goes to get some help, and we clearly see he has the force to run because he thinks about the fire his father lit up.
But in this scene, fire can also be something which helps close the story because as everything started with fire, we can deduce it has to end the same way. Except those concerning fire, there are plenty of other metaphors such as the ones about ash.
It is firstly seen as something fragile when Thomas tells us about children of ash falling apart. The use of the present highlights the fact that it is still his father as if he was still alive. But there are also metaphors about Indians and frybread, alcohol, cowboys, Christianity, and warriors.
Victor has been sitting on the sidelines of the story telling, so Suzy asks Thomas if he wants to hear the truth or the lies. When he says he wants both, Thomas is not saying he wants fiction for the sake of a good story, he is saying he wants fiction that embodies the truth. To Victor this is a logical impossibility: Having grown to hate things Indian, he can see only the lies, not the truth in them.Smoke Signals (2/12) Movie CLIP - Don't Go, Dad! (1998) HD
After dinner, Victor and Suzy face off. When she tells Arnold's basketball story to Victor, all he can say is that his father lied. What he can't see is that, whether or not Arnold intentionally changed the end of the story, the new version carries a much deeper truth about his father's love for him. Victor had assumed — and reasonably so, from Victor's point of view — that his father left because he didn't care, yet here is contradictory data that says something else was going on with his father below the surface.
But Victor is not ready to hear it. Suzy presses Victor, pressing on him that he needs to face up: He needs to go into Arnold's trailer to see what's there, to see what he might salvage from the ashes of his father's life. Victor needs to confront and resolve the issue of his father's life, but he won't do it.
To avoid it, Victor is willing to make a liar of himself by going back on the bet he made with Suzy. I'm like Victor here: I want to hold on tightly to the pain that others have caused me. I've called the foul, now let it be a foul.
I want to be able to villify them without the complication of conflicting data that says maybe they were doing something that they themselves did not understand. Maybe their offense came from their weakness and confusion, not from an intentional pursuit of selfish aims. Maybe they even cared about me after all. Suzy then tells Victor his father's blackest secret: He started the fire that killed Thomas' parents.
Hearing about the fire, hearing about Arnold going back into the fire for Victor even though Victor was not in the houseand beginning to understand the pain his father lived with, Victor softens. He goes to the trailer. He faces the stench left by his father's life. Making his way through it, he comes to the heart of his father's life: A picture in his wallet of Arnold, Arlene, and Victor, and on the back, the single word, "home.
Smoke Signals - Analysis - Dramatica
He sees there was a deeper story underneath. He sees the pain his father had lived with. He gains a measure of compassion for his father, and he now can mourn his father's death. He takes his father's knife to his own hair. He thinks "the ceremony [is] over.
He hasn't faced himself. Even though Victor has seen that his father wasn't as bad as he thought, he's still running. He has not yet seen that he himself is much worse than he thinks. He's been so busy calling fouls on those around him that he's not looked at the fouls he has been committing. He leaves Suzy's place without saying goodbye.
Thomas picks up again with his stories, and then he directly confronts Victor, capping it with, "You make your mother cry All I know is that when your father left, your mother lost you, too. The physical wreck on the road becomes the occasion for Victor's physical runnning that embodies his emotional running.
He starts running to save the girl in the wreck, but it turns out he's running to save himself. As he runs, all of what his experience on the trip comes together, and the physical pain and the emotional pain become the fire that burns Victor to the ground. And for Victor, it is his father that raises him from the ashes. Victor is saved through his own forgiveness. Standing before the sherriff, he owns up to his personal heritage as he accepts and takes his father, later even calling him "Dad.
Victor is even ready now to learn a bit of the mystical from his Indian heritage: He had thought of spreading Arnold's ashes as merely a duty, but he learns from Thomas the magic that will be in that moment, as his father rises "like a salmon. But what about Arnold? Does Victor's forgiveness lessen Arnold's guilt in any way?
Does Smoke Signals let Arnold off the hook? I don't think so. Arnold carries with him to his death the shame of starting the fire — he cut his hair "and he never grew it long again.
He "talked about that fire every day; he cried about it Arnold is still culpable, but he's also human and in many ways lost — like the rest of us. As captured in the closing poem, forgiveness is the heart of Smoke Signals.
It is easier to forgive when we take the effort to see inside the offender's heart. We should forgive even if, unlike Arnold, someone maliciously intended to hurt us. Forgiveness shouldn't be by brute force, as it were, because God commands it, it should be born of love. Forgiveness is a whole different thing when we truly come to see the humanity of the person that we are forgiving. We needn't conclude that the other did no wrong, but we should see their life and their pain from their perspective.
The phrase "I didn't mean to" takes on a new meaning after seeing Smoke Signals. I always took the phrase as a cop-out — which it was, is, and will continue to be — but there's something deeper underneath the phrase for me now. What actually did someone mean by what they did?
My response tends to be to catalog the wrongs done to me and blame the other person as though the hurt I feel was exactly what they meant to inflict. What I don't do, but now hope I can do more often, is think that perhaps they are hurting just as much as I am, and maybe their offense is more a result of being blinded and incapacitated by their pain and human limits than of intentional, self-centered insensitivity.
If so, they are still responsible for the offense, but the path to reconciliation is one more of mutual healing than of demand for reform on their part. It's very easy to blame others — particularly our parents — for the better lives they should have lived.
It is very easy to be, and to remain, ignorant of the issues and pains that they lived with. Even if we try to know about them, we often won't know the most important things, just as without Suzy, no one would have known about Arnold's deepest pain. We place ourselves above the other, casting aside the humility we should have. They may have indeed done wrong things they shouldn't have, and that truth should not be minimized.
We want the whole picture; nothing is to be left out. And part of the picture is to understand that we don't know all of what another is dealing with.