I’m currently inside the body of a man named Jude, vicariously typing through the tips of his thumbs.
Recently, we (being me and a few of my co-hosts from John Plays the Piano) watched Kaufman’s 1999 film, Being John Malkovich. And it stirred up a few questions/discussions, the most interesting to me being:
“where is your viewing room? And who is inside it?”
In the film, when people climb inside Malkovich’s head, they’re inside a black room with a sort of porthole, seeing through his eyes. So when someone is in that room, where is Malkovich?
We know Malkovich is not inside his subconscious because he’s playing out his life, be it having a meal or ordering towels over thr phone. So essentially there’s another “mental room” we don’t get to see in the film. Now the follow-up question to that is:
“is there ever a person inside that viewing room? Is there really a YOU? And are we all just hollow shells jumping inside of one another?”
The dream sequence where Malkovich steps inside himself is the result of what you would see if you tried entering your own viewing room. You would enter a dream (or nightmare, as he experiences). A further delusion that a true YOU exists.
After all, this film shows people doing anything to escape who they are to become someone else, essentially not having much of a life they care to live for beforehand — then we see that Malkovich is no different. He’s an ordinary human being who’s been chosen because mildly popular —
“So why not Being Brad Pitt or Being Tom Cruise?”
Because the focus would be so much on that person’s famous face and playing pretend…It’s funnier that it’s an actor not many people will recognize except for that film Being John Malkovich (as I’ve heard many people mention to me in the past). Even his character in the film is only recognized for “that one jewel thief movie” which he says he was never in.
Through Kaufman’s lense, people want so badly to escape into something that is different, even if it’s mundane. Look at tabloids—we’re reading news about peoples’ romantic lives and salaries and clothing choices—it’s hardly different from crawling into a portal and into their heads. So what does Cusack’s character do?
Cusack learns to puppeteer him and change Hollywood. But at the end of it all, he’s still lonely. He’s still feeling unloved. He’s a part of Kaufman’s subconscious.
If you want to listen to our full discussion, you’re welcome to find the John Plays the Piano Podcast on Stitcher, iTunes, Soundcloud, and basically anything that plays podcasts.
If you do listen to it, please let us know what you enjoyed or what you would like to hear more of. Or give us film suggestions!