Mid-Week Anger: Rabbit's Moon Recut (1979) - Can't Stop the Movies
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Mid-Week Anger: Rabbit’s Moon Recut (1979)

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Rabbit RecutI'll be brief for this week's Kenneth Anger as it's a recut and rescored edition of Rabbit's Moon.  The previous iteration of Rabbit's Moon immediately became one of my most beloved cinematic experiences not just of Anger's career but of my last few years of watching movies.  This new version isn't without its charm, but the quickened pace and new soundtrack create a sort of live action Looney Tunes experience that I couldn't completely engage with.

Now, reminding me of Looney Tunes is never a bad thing.  It's just that the original Rabbit's Moon struck such a bizarre and wonderful chord with its doo-wop soundtrack, beautifully artificial staging, and multicultural approach to visuals and acting styles.  These things are all still technically present in the new cut but Anger quickens the pace of the story by removing frames and editing out a lot of the ebb and flow of desire from the original cut.

The new cut's pace emphasis the tumbling theatricality of Andre Soubeyran's central performance as Pierrot.  It comes off more as slapstick, which can be many things but for me is rarely the stuff that evokes much emotion from me other than laughs.  The most important cut doesn't come until the climax where Pierrot commits suicide in the original cut and here just crumbles to the ground.  I was surprised at how more downbeat this energetic cut is because Pierrot doesn't commit suicide.  In the original cut he at least frees himself of the cycle of longing and disappointment which consumed his entire life.  Here he resigns himself to his solitary existence once Claude Revenant's Harlequin and Nadine Valence's Columbine are out of the picture.

I imagine this would play well with Chuck Jones' immortal and brilliant "What's Opera, Doc?" given the relative seriousness both projects end on (even if Jones' film has a knowing final joke for the audience).  The repetition of the soundtrack in this cut of Rabbit's Moon further enhances the cartoonish quality of the experience because "It Came in the Night" already has a novelty feel.  Since the song cycles right when Harlequin appears we're prepped for Pierrot's disappointment all over again.

Still, for a cut of an excellent film made as a birthday present for Stan Brakhage's son, it's an impressive achievement.  Despite my knowledge of cinematography, color, set design, and other aspects of cinema watching different cuts of beloved projects deepens my understanding of editing.  So this version of Rabbit's Moon didn't set my heart on fire but it's still a damn solid film on its own.

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Posted by Andrew

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