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The Juxtaposition of Violence and Comedy - Movie Review Example

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Written by Cyril Tourneur in 1607, The Revenger's Tragedy is considered 'a dense macabre in which one skeleton leads other skeletons to the grave' (Kernan, 1959, p. 231). Although classified as a Jacobean revenge drama, it stands apart because 'Tourneur was the only one who wrote a Revenge drama informed with comic sharpness and vivacity (Tomlinson, 1964, p…
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The Juxtaposition of Violence and Comedy
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The Juxtaposition of Violence and Comedy

Download file to see previous pages... 48), where increasingly vicious deeds lead to destruction.
From the opening scene where the vengeful Vindice comes out carrying his dead lover's skull to the end with its official yet instant hangings, a hyper-violent environment is created. This pseudo-reality is so removed from the regularities of the everyday that the outrageousness of the violence opens it to comic possibilities. For this reason, The Revenger's Tragedy provides a useful comparison to certain scenes of director Quentin Tarantino, well known for the brutal yet humorous realms his films, including Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill: Vol. 1.
Mr. Blonde stands before the uniformed and badly beaten police officer who is tied to a chair. Except for an unconscious man bleeding heavily from a gunshot wound, they are alone in a large, industrial room. After informing his prisoner that he is going to torture him for the simply enjoyment of it, he gags him with electrical tape, takes a folding straight-razor from his black cowboy boot and turns on the radio. After briefly inspecting the collapsed man's wound, Mr. Blonde obviously cheers as the 1970's classic Stuck in the Middle with You begins to play. He then begins a shuffling line dance as he softly sings along, and the terrified hostage stares and bleeds.
Once Mr.
Once Mr. Blonde reaches the police officer, he slashes him and then straddles his victim, sawing at the left side of his head as the camera pans out of view. Muffled moans and demands to be still merge as the act continues. Emerging with a bloody ear in one hand and the razor in the other, Mr. Blonde enters the frame asking, "Was that as good for you as it was for me' After playing with the ear briefly, Mr. Blonde throws it to the ground, wipes his fingers on the officer's uniform and goes outside to his car. This famous ear cutting scene from Reservoir Dogs manages to be comic despite the graphic violence.
The Revenger's Tragedy features a similar combination of dance and violence, although it is an act of vengeance as opposed to the random inclination of a sociopath. After killing the Duke, Vindice acquires three accomplices and plans to murder the successor and three members of his entourage at a masked ball. He eagerly describes his plan:
Within a straine or two we shall find leasure
To steale our swords out handsomely;
And when they thinke their pleasure sweete and good,
In the midst of all their joyes, they shall sigh blood. (5.3.18-22)

So the killers join the festivities and, as the production notes specify, dance up to the table, quickly loosen their swords and strike their victims. In the midst of the revelry no one notices until the death moans are heard. Mixing the exotic pleasure of a civilized masque and the painful deaths of for nobles is a brazen act. As this takes place towards the end of the play, the audience has become climatized to an abnormal level of viciousness (Champion, 1977, p. 100). It is not only the feigned participation that is laughable-this introduction to violence allows the actual violence to be seen in a more jovial light. This effect is also evident in the combination of Mr. Blonde's dancing and ear hacking-the ridiculousness of the entire situation elevates even the violent aspects to the ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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