Guts and Grog Tooned Up

Thursday, April 24, 2014

2 Extremes: A Tale of Two Foxes- Watched in the Batcave

I am once again honored to be allowed to write a post for the regular readers of Guts and Grog. Blog themes are almost always fun, but Tromeric seems to push the boundaries with great ideas like “Horror With Training Wheels” and now “Two Extremes”.  The original idea for my post was to watch Disney’s The Fox and the Hound followed by Lars Von Trier’s Antichrist, and come up with five things the two have in common, other than talking foxes.  Impossible, you say? Let’s find out…

For the first part of my double-feature, I decided to watch The Fox and the Hound, thinking I’d breeze through it, but paying attention, looking for any kind of themes it may have in common with Antichrist. It had been probably close to 30 years since I’d seen it. I remember watching it as a kid and liking it. For those of us old enough to remember such, I even had one of those story books with the 45 in the back that you could put on your record player and listen to as you read along. I had forgotten all about it until certain phrases in the movie brought back memories. Still, my recollection of the events of the movie were sparse at best, and I honestly had no idea how it ended. I assumed it would be a heartfelt tale of how two animals, who were known as natural enemies, could be friends when they put their differences aside. What I’d completely forgotten is that while Disney has always been an Evil Empire, it was also staffed by a group of sadistic bastards who seemed intent on creating films whose sole purpose was to crush childhood spirit, completely traumatize, and leave all of us subjected to them at a young impressionable age, heartless, broken adults.  
My God, I knew I certainly wouldn’t get the warm and fuzzies from Antichrist, what I hadn’t anticipated was The Fox and the Hound making me want to blow my own brains out. What a fucking downer of a movie. There is more loss, betrayal, and heartbreak in its 81 minutes than young children should have to endure in a lifetime. I assumed that Todd and Copper would remain friends after all was said and done. I also assumed that while Todd didn’t necessarily bother me, Copper would be the character I would most connect with. I’m a dog person, plus Todd was the overly outgoing, adventurous one, and if left to my own devices, I’d rather not stray too often from the straight and narrow, like my boy Copper. But then, Copper goes away for the winter, and he returns as a DOUCHE. He even takes his douchebaggery to a whole new level when he straight up turns on Todd because of the train incident that leaves the older dog, Chief, injured. Of course, Chief was trying to murder Todd, but fuck if Copper seems to give a shit. Dude has turned straight up cold. Even in the end, when Todd selflessly throws himself on the back of an attacking bear, he displays courage and devotion to Copper that most of us would never be able to extend to a person who HADN’T totally betrayed us for no reason, other than we are different in some way, be it race, gender, or what, let alone someone who had once been our dearest childhood friend and done so.  I’ve got to give Todd his props. Copper though, even when he got between a downed Todd and the hunter’s shotgun? Yeah, fuck that guy.

After The Fox and the Hound, the plan was to continue on to Antichrist. I put the dvd in, refreshed my adult beverage, and sat down prepared to once again have my senses assaulted. It hadn’t been as long since I’d seen Antichrist, but a year or so is almost and infinity when you watch as many movies as I do. Once it started though, I realized that I had essentially missed everything I’d seen so far, because I was still running through The Fox and the Hound in my head. That movie completely fucked me up. What a slap of real life in the face, despite the fact that it’s a kids movie. I mean, with the way movies these days hit kids over the head with equality, and celebrate diversity, it was a shocking nod to the old “non-PC” days of the past. I decided I needed more time before I jumped into a Lars Von Trier movie, as the mindset I was in certainly didn’t lend itself well to going in. By the end, of course, but going in? Not even I’m that much of a masochist.

The following night, I gave Antichrist a spin. It was basically as I’d remembered it. It starts off with a married couple getting it on, unaware that their toddler aged child had crawled out of bed and headed toward the balcony window.  Of course, the child falls to his death, and from there we witness the grief that accompanies such a tragedy, although both parents deal with it in very different ways.  The grief sends the mother,  credited simply as “She” to the hospital, while her psychiatrist husband, “He”,  buries himself in his work. His work just so happens to be the treatment of his wife. The two head to their secluded cabin in the woods, known as Eden, to attempt to repair not only their broken marriage, but their broken selves. Unfortunately, it  goes  from bad to worse, WAY worse, as these things tend to do.
Now, let me say this, as I’m sure anyone who’s ever stopped by my blog can attest, I’m not the most insightful person in the world. It’s part of why I enjoy reading blogs so much. I love to watch something, take away from it whatever I do, then read others interpretations.  Antichrist is an examination of grief that descends to depths those of us who have never been through a tragedy, like in this case losing a child, will never understand. What makes it even more disturbing is that when He and She get to Eden, we find out there’s even more going on, as previous events, whose details are sparsely revealed, show that She was already pretty damaged before they lost the child.

Plenty of movies out there, particularly of the “extreme” nature delve into misogyny, but Antichrist presents the idea of a sort of “reverse-misogyny”, which brings about a whole new thought process when you think about a woman who is already blaming herself for what happened to her child. She, who views all women as “evil” based off of research material she read when preparing to write a thesis, let her son die. It’s hatred of herself, for being a woman, coupled with the grief and self-blame, that leads to her hospitalization. It’s the anger at Him, who she perceives as arrogant due to his treatment methods, that leads to her eventual break. It’s at that point that Antichrist goes away a bit from just a dreadful, uneasy feeling movie, to disturbing, and even at times hard to watch.

There’s more there that I feel like Lars was trying to convey, with the woods in particular, that I feel like I still don’t have a full grasp of yet. In my defense though, I seem to take something else away from it every time I watch it. Lars Von Trier isn’t going to be a director for everybody, but I can’t help but feel engaged and at times challenged by everything he does. His movies never make you feel good, but they do make you feel, and that’s not something that comes along all that often anymore.
Now that I’ve endured the two films, and have had a little time to process, let’s see if we can find five things the two have in common, other than talking foxes. Chaos Reigns, bitches.

Loss – When you get down to it, both of these movies deal heavily with loss. In Antichrist, it’s the loss of a child, and ultimately sanity. The Fox and the Hound opens with Todd losing his mother to the hunters, but doesn’t stop there. It goes on to explore the loss of innocence, in the form of Copper being groomed into a true hunting dog by his owner, and ultimately the loss of friendship, as Todd and Copper are forced to the realization that they can never truly be friends.
The Frailty of Relationship – The Fox in the Hound is all about relationships, and how we sometimes think or wish they will last forever. How many of us have had relationships come to an unexpected end? An end that we never saw coming? It hits you like a sledge hammer in the stomach. It’s a harsh life lesson we all eventually learn. Antichrist focuses on a married couple who not only watch their relationship, marriage in this case, fall apart but their very lives also.
Abandonment – The Fox and the Hound is filled with abandonment, particularly in Todd’s case. He’s initially left abandoned by his mother, who leaves him in order to save him from the hunter, which ultimately leads to her death. After being taken in by the Widow Tweed, he’s later abandoned again, this time by her, at the wild life preserve, to once again save him from the hunter. There’s also the eventual emotional abandonment of his best friend, Copper. I’m honestly surprised the movie doesn’t end with Todd splattering his fox brains all over a wall somewhere with the hunter’s shotgun.  
For as much as Antichrist deals with Her, and how she’s coping with her loss and self-hatred, stop and think about how He feels. This is a man who also lost his only child, which has lead to his wife mentally checking out. There’s undoubtedly some feeling of abandonment there. Of course he loves his wife, and wants to help her get better, but I can’t help but feel like a small part of him is also afraid that if she doesn’t recover, he will be left with nothing.
Nature – Not as in “Mother Nature” so much, although that’s definitely there as well, but human nature, although I hesitate to use the word “human” as Todd and Copper are anthromorphic animals. I touched on this just a bit when I talked about relationships, but in both films we see things running their courses no matter how hard something tries to change them. The Fox and the Hound sees Copper ultimately turn on his best friend Todd because as a hound dog, it’s his nature to hunt fox, whether they be friend or not. Antichrist shows a grieving mother, hospitalized by her sadness, and a psychiatrist who is bound and determined to cure her by any means necessary. In both cases, nature wins out.
Misogyny – I already talked about misogyny being one of the main themes in Antichrist, but it’s present, although comedic and diluted in The Fox and the Hound too. It’s actually more of just a sign of the times than anything else, but the hunter, Amos Slade’s treatment of the elderly woman who takes Todd in after his mother is killed, the Widow Tweed, would be considered misogynistic by today’s standards. He never refers to her by name, only “woman”. He constantly berates her, and while he never comes out and calls her stupid, his comment s definitely imply that he feels like she is, and it’s only because she’s a woman.
There you have it, five things that Disney’s The Fox and the Hound and Lars Von Trier’s Antichrist have in common. I’m admittedly reaching a bit there, but hey, there’s evidence that backs up every point.  That just about does it for my long-winded entry for Two Extremes. Big thanks once again to Tromeric for letting me take part in another great theme here at the House of Grog. It’s always a pleasure.

Mitch goes by the internet moniker Mister Bones. He’s a simple minded fellow, who loves comic books, horror movies, hockey, and video games. He can be found writing about such as that, and all manner of other meaningless topics over at this blog, Tales From the Batcave.

1 comment:

Maynard Morrissey said...

Highly interesting comparison, Mitch. Now I'd love to see von Trier remake Fox and Hound ;)