Blonde Cobra (1963)
Just because it's avant-garde, doesn't mean that it's a great work of art and Ken Jacobs's "Blonde Cobra" is a great example of this. Sure it may be experimental or even culturally influential; but does that make it any more watchable? No, it does not.
Now this film does not have the same hatred that I have for "Vinyl" directed towards it, but it still is remarkably pointless and dull.
The film has no structured narrative and jumps back and forth from images on the screen to nothing with voice overs cutting in and out, keeping in time with the bizarre soundtrack.
It's a short film, barely passing the 30 minute mark...possibly the only fact that made it slightly bearable.
There are only two acknowledged actors in the film, Jacobs himself and Jack Smith. Both actors play a plethora of roles and much of it is in drag.
There are a couple of stories that intertwine: a molesting Catholic setting, a home front view of terror, and an foreign world of murder.
Is the movie about exploring the mind of a psychologically disturbed individual whose mother abused him? This is the way I see the film at least. We are trapped inside the mind of an individual whose thoughts are completely senseless and sometimes sexually violent.
Another way of looking at the film would be to view how the film treats women. No women appear on screen, is it a mockery of women in general, a commentary on misogynists, or something else not as easily seen? I'd like to think not, because that would be assuming a level of intelligence that "Blonde Cobra" doesn't possess.
Sure, you could claim that every scene with its horribly complicated editing, the splicing of which is headache inducing, has some underlying meaning that can only be uncovered with a depth of knowledge and heavy analysis. To that person I would say: knock yourself out. If you really want to waste your time picking apart this movie, be my guest...I'm not going to stop you.
This is the kind of movie that tries to mimic the success of "Un Chien Andalou" which wasn't a good movie, but was eerie and surrealist...which was its point.
Yet another interpretation of "Blonde Cobra" would be the pointlessness, facade, and frivolity of life as a whole. Individuals will carry emotional baggage around, but in the end why are they doing it? "Blonde Cobra" could be seen as an encouraging of suicide. This view is erroneous from the start—there are characters, there is the resemblance of a story, and there is no way that it is completely pointless though it feels like it at times.
The film feels improvised, like after getting high Jacobs whipped out his camera and started to film and this is what came of that.
To be fair, the one thing that the film does have that its contemporaries seem to lack is a sense of closure...but that's about it.
In the end, after all the analysis and the annoyance; I think the best way to view this film would be to not view it at all.
Score: 1 out of 4 stars
Posted by Micah Jones