The Razor’s Edge 1984, (Bill Murray version.)
The Razor’s Edge, Bill Murray version is literally the greatest movie ever made. I couldn’t hazard a guess just how many times I have watched it. I’ve seen it on cable, had it on VHS, bought the DVD and have been longing for it to come out on Bluray.
Why? Well, for starters, Bill Murray manages to capture the cluelessness and goodness and idealism of youth, of maturity forced too soon upon a young man in war, the shock to the system and the impact it has on his thinking, the consequences of living a life searching for the things which REALLY matter. Idiot reviewers said it was a confused performance when in fact it was spot on.
Every shot seems to be lovingly crafted. Some dark indoor shots are a bit grainy because of the limitations of film before everything went digital but you can forgive that. It is a very beautiful film with gorgeous photography. The production values and aesthetics are flawless. Even birds in flight or insects seem as though they were choreographed.
The rest of the cast are incredible. Not a single one lets the side down. Every actor, every actress is amazing. Brian Doyle-Murray should have won an oscar for his portrayal of a cynical but very conscientious superior officer running an ambulance unit in the First World War.
Jack Nietsche’s music score is perfect.
And finally, I love this film because I AM Larry Darrell (the main character.) Everything about this guy is just me. It is like watching myself on my home cinema screen, the way he acts, the way he thinks, the eccentricity, the idealism. Watch that film and you know me intimately.
The film was a flop, partly because there were expectations placed upon a film with Bill Murray in it to be a certain way but this is a hyper-serious movie, not a comedy romp. I also think (and boy, this is going to sound pompous but hey) this film was simply too good for Hollywood, too intelligent and too deep for most people – but, at last, as time has passed, the film has begun to gain a following among those who see it for what it really is – a masterpiece of cinema.
So how come it parallels me and my life?
Well, sure, I did not go to war like Larry Darrell but I was sent at a young age to some boarding school type place where I was sexually abused at the age of 5, no older than 6. That counts as a major shock to the system which heralded a different approach to life, that of viewing it as some kind of roller coaster with me hanging on for dear life rather than feeling in control.
Larry Darrell loses his fiance when she rejects his lifestyle choices. I was absolutely head over heels in love with a Christian girl who could not accept that I was interested in searching for spiritual truth and that included having books on Tarot, Palmistry and Magick. She looked across my library and just couldn’t accept it. Silly girl. When she dumped me, I was devastated and it would be fair to say that it completely wrecked my life as I never fully recovered from that loss, married on the rebound (and thought of her on my wedding day and most days ever since.) Although I have loved other women since, it wasn’t until about five years ago that I finally found someone who meant as much (and that relationship is one of two people who have genuinely suffered and therefore have an extraordinary degree of empathy for each other. Are we soul mates? I would say so – but I digress.)
Larry Darrell works in a mine. I worked as a labourer on the island of Hoy in Orkney, carrying telegraph poles about trying to work off Karma (while bleeding out of my rectum as it happened.) I lived like a hermit in a shed on a farm.
Darrell goes to a monastery in India/Tibet. I spent a month in a Zen Buddhist monastery in the South of France, run for the month as a Yoga ashram. I also spent a year with a clairvoyant medium being trained by her. I had ectoplasm appear on my hands and had visions which subsequently came true.
Darrell fell in love with a heroin/opium addict who died. I fell in love with a poor girl in my town who was also an addict who died (when she was sold a bad batch of the drug, which killed her.)
Darrell seems to shake everything off and ascends a staircase at the end, symbolic of shrugging off the cares of the world. I go through life slightly unable to relate to it in a normal fashion. The unseen world, the world of spirit is far more important to me. The things which most people care about seem just silly and meaningless. As such, my life has been a total train wreck.
Yep, I AM Larry Darrell. That’s me up there on the screen going through the same stuff. Watching this film for two hours is the equivalent of having spent 5 years getting to know me through social interaction.
I love this film. I doubt anyone will ever make another one as remarkable ever again. If critics disagree, well, they “just… don’t… get… it” to quote the movie.
I gather the supposed failure of this film hit Bill Murray quite hard, so much so that he took a few years out of the industry. If you ever get to read this, Bill, your film wasn’t a failure at all. You made the greatest film in the history of cinema bar none.
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