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Barton Fink

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Barton Fink is a 1991 film by Joel and Ethan Coen. Arguably the brothers' most enigmatic film to date, it tells the story of Barton Fink (John Turturro), a young, intense, and rather unlikeable writer of Social Realist plays in the early 1940s; his raison d'etre is to "create a theatre of the common man."

The Coens claim the film was inspired by an attack of writer's block they suffered whilst working on the screenplay for Miller's Crossing. Barton Fink won the Palme D'Or at Cannes.

Plot Synopsis

Fink is loosely based on the 1930s playwright Clifford Odets. Relocating from his native New York to Los Angeles to earn a quick buck as a contracted writer for Hollywood studio chief Jack Lipnick, whose character is based on MGM's legendary Louis B. Mayer.

Fink is put to work scripting a b movie about wrestling and, feeling trapped in his sweltering, claustrophobic hotel room, suffers a serious bout of writer's block.

As in many of the Coen Brothers' films, Barton Fink contains a menagerie of grotesque supporting characters, the polar opposites of the simple but noble common men about whom Barton writes. Chief amongst these is Charlie Meadows (John Goodman), Barton's jovial and loyal next-door neighbour at the hotel. Charlie is later revealed to be the alter-ego of Karl 'Madman' Muntz, a serial killer with a penchant for decapitating his victims. Also featured is Bill Mayhew (John Mahoney), an alcoholic novelist also working for the studio, (almost certainly based on William Faulkner, with small touches of Scott Fitzgerald thrown in), whose great works of the past turn out to have been ghostwritten by his mistress, Audrey.

Critics have variously interpreted the film as an examination of the creative act, a hollywood satire, a Joseph Campbell-like quest and even an allegory for the rise of Nazism. The Coen brothers themselves remain characteristically tight-lipped on the subject.

de:Barton Fink ja:バートン・フィンク

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