Wednesday, November 09, 2011

ghost dog and the clash of civilizations

Ghost Dog: You know, in ancient cultures...bears were considered equal with men.
Hunter: This ain't no ancient culture here, mister.
Ghost Dog: Sometimes it is.
The last entry on the Five Percenters got me thinking about RZA (aka Robert Diggs aka Bobby Digital aka Ruler Zig-Zag-Zig Allah aka The Abbott) which got me thinking about the film Ghost Dog where RZA has a cameo.

The film is filled with all sorts of jarring cultural juxtapositions. Forest Whitaker stars as an African-American Samurai who struggles against Italian mobster hip-hop fans. He speaks no French or Creole and yet his best friend in the world is Raymond, a Haitian Ice Cream Vendor who speaks no English. And apparently the unnamed city where the film takes place has a large number of people from different cultural backgrounds who live on apartment building rooftops. My pet theory is that the film is trying to say that we are all like the people on those rooftops, separated by huge gulfs of space. Genuine communication is impossible (unless you are a mind reader) and the best we can hope for is occasionally guessing what another person wants or needs from indirect cues (like Ghost Dog does with Raymond).

My favorite scene is the one where Ghost Dog encounters RZA in the street.
As the two approach, RZA's character (credited as "Street Crusader") says:
"Ghost Dog...

While Ghost Dog replies:
Everything, my brother."
A unique moment of understanding and P.E.A.C.E. between two warriors from different civilizations.

Transcript: Ghost Dog: Way of the Sammurai


bingregory said...

That was an awesome movie. The scenes with the ice-cream vendor are so memorable. I sought out another Jarmusch movie on account of it - Dead Man, but it was awful - and have followed Whitaker's career with interest since then. Great soundtrack too.

Abdul-Halim V. said...

I also think Jarmusch must be some kind of acquired taste.
Coffee and Cigarettes was somewhat interesting and consisted of a series of vignettes (RZA was in one)

The Limits of Control was bizzare and stared Isaach de Bankole (who played Raymond in Ghost Dog) as a hitman who goes through a series of surreal exchanges with different people which are presumably coded communications.

They both require a certain amount of patience.

I've been into Forrest Whitaker for a while. Even if he doesn't have the main role, if he is in a movie, it usually is a good sign that the film will be interesting. Johnny Handsome, Jason's Lyric, Good Morning Vietnam, The Crying Game, The Enemy Within, Body Snatchers....