Midnight Cowboy Film Interpretation And Reflection Help


You to post reactions to and interpretations of the film Midnight Cowboy. you are required to submit at least two separate original posts about the film. One post should focus on narrative (aspects of the plot, characters, setting, etc.) and one should focus on film technique (lighting, costume, camera angles, mise-en-scene, music, etc.).Each of the two posts should be at least a substantial paragraph long with specific, concrete examples from the film. make connections to the readings in your original posts.Your interpretation and reaction should be done in conjunction with the material I gave you.

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Midnight  Cowboy
John  Schlesinger  (1969)
Film  Overview
• Directed  by  John  Schlesinger
• Released  in  1969,  during  the  height  of  
boomer  counter-­‐culture
• Main  protagonists:
Joe  Buck  (John  Voight)  
Ratso Rizzo  (Dustin  Hoffman)
• First  film  of  its  kind  to  present:
– Dark  underbelly  of  New  York  City
– Homosexual  prostitution
• Given  an  X  rating  by  Universal  Studios  when  
released  due  to:
– “homosexual  frame  of  reference”
– “possible  influence  upon  youngsters”
• Won  an  Academy  Award  for  Best  Picture  in  
• First  and  last  X  rated  film  to  win
• Schlesinger  won  an  Academy  Award  Best  
• Actors  and  film  nominated  for  numerous  
Academy,  Golden  Globe,  and  BAFTA  Awards
• Grossed  almost  $45  million  in  the  US,  $11  
million  in  rentals
The  Protagonists
Joe  Buck,  Ratso,  
&  The  Women
Joe  Buck
• Texan    “Cowboy”
• Adrift  in  NYC
• Failed  Male  Gigolo
• “Lonely  homosexual  
dream  hero”
• “Strictly  for  fags”
• Narcissistic  Dreamer
From  Prostitute  to  Destitute
• Handsome  Joe  Buck  leaves  his  dead-­‐end  job  
in  Texas  in  search  of  a  new  life  in  the  Big  Apple
• New  York  City  is  not  what  he  imagined-­‐-­‐he  is  
out  of  touch  with  Northern  city  culture
• He  fails  as  a  male  gigolo  
• An  easy  target  for  con-­‐artists  and  penniless  
gay  Johns,  he  soon  becomes  destitute  
• Con-­‐artist  & Petty  
• Homeless
• Sick
• Disillusioned  realist  or  
unrealistic  dreamer
• Joe’s  only  companion
• Doomed  anti-­‐hero
Ratso’  Rizzo

From  Destitute  to  Dreamer
• Ratso Rizzo  is  a  New  York  city  native  who  
survives  through  whatever  means  he  can
• He  lives  in  an  abandoned  apartment  building  
and  steals  to  feed  and  cloth  himself
• His  disability  and  his  health  problems,  
combined  with  his  living  situation,  lead  to  
extreme  illness  and  ultimately  death
• Like  Joe,  he  dreams  of  another  life,  but  is  
more  realistic  about  his  current  situation
• He  cons  Joe  in  multiple  ways
The  Women

Drug  addicts
Mentally  unstable
• Wealthy  swingers
An  Unlikely  Friendship
• Ratso and  Joe  become  co-­‐
• Ratso offers  Joe  a  home  and  
• Joe  offers  Ratso support  
• Together  they  make  Ratso’s
dream  come  true  
• In  the  course  of  the  journey  Joe    
becomes  a  changed  man
• But  Ratso dies  just  before  he  
reaches  Miami
• Will  Joe,  no  longer  a  cowboy,  
make  it  in  Miami?
Texas  Consumer  Culture
• In  his  journey  to  NYC,  
Joe  passes  ads  for  
desirable  consumables  
ranging  from  oil  to  God  
to  hamburgers.  
• But  he  is  leaving  a  
world  of  emptiness  
behind  and  is  on  his  
way  to  Eldorado
NYC  Consumer  Culture
• As  he  arrives  in  the  city,  
Joe  hears  the  radio  
advertise  desirable  
commodities  and  
fantasizes  that  he  too  will  
be  desirable.
• The  image  from  his  first  
hotel  window  also  
emphasizes  to  him  that  
NYC  is  a  land  full  of  
• One  of  the  first  images  he  
wealth,  opportunity,  and  
an  endless  supply  of  
sees  is  of  ‘MONY’
What  Poverty  Means
• Lack  of  consumable
• Very  low  standard  of  living  in  both  TX  
and  NYC
• In  NYC  destitutes lack  even  the  basics:  
food,  shelter,  heat,  healthcare
• To  survive  without  the  commodities  
they  need,  they  must  either  steal  or  
become  commodities  themselves
Excess  Commodities
But  in  the  city,  accessible  
commodities  are  few;  men  
and  women  willing  to  sell  
their  bodies  are  abundant
Poverty  and  Lack

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