"The thing is, if you just do stuff, and nothing happens, what's it all mean?"

Monday, July 21, 2014

"Something to Do With Death" - Breaking Bad's Mortal Coil

"You don't understand, Jill. People like that have something inside... 
Something to do with death."
-Cheyenne, "Once Upon a Time in the West," 1968

"Shut the fuck up, and let me die in peace.
-Mike Ehrmantraut

"Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live."
-Norman Cousins

The post will (eventually) be a long one. It's about what death means within Breaking Bad (as the sub-title gets at, the shadow of Shakespeare's Tragedies will be constantly looming), and how that reflects the ultimate meaning of the lives we live ("the paths we take"), using the Spaghetti Westerns of Sergio Leone as a starting point; then inventorying every incident of death (and the related symbolism of various memento mori within the mise-en-scene and cinematography) throughout the series; while also tying in other television series to tie together the related ways they and BB portray the human condition of facing imminent demise. Some Freudian and Existentialist shit will show up, no doubt.

Nothing too intense. 

So yeah, a giant beast of potential incoherence it shall be!


-But here's the huge factor that separates the operatic visions of Leone and the universe of BB: there is almost never an even deul between death-locked opponents. The murders faciliated by Walt are detached. One of the most pivotal deaths in the entire run of the series occurs off-screen, and involves a sympathetic man pleading for his life. The only true Western show-downs are afforded to Hank, who is the most typical "hero" of show.

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