Essay: John Malkovich the Movie "Being

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¶ … John Malkovich

The movie "Being John Malkovich" is a dark and wildly creative comedy -- and the fact that it is rated "R" is no surprise, given the raw, bizarre nature of the themes, and the sexuality not to mention tough language. As Andrew O'Hehir describes in his critique in Salon, "Being John Malkovich" is a "gleeful, nitrous-oxide high, midway between a Monty Python sketch and a Buquel film, with dreamlike structure and pseudoscientific charts to match" (O'Hehir, 1999, p. 1). Other reviewers focus on the satire and parody and the "filling" of "warped voids" in this "masterpiece of speculative fiction" ( But one of the keys to relating to this iconoclastic film is John Malkovich's memory, which will be discussed in this paper.

Being John Malkovich (BJM)

O'Hehir notes that the film sticks to a "grimy, present-tense mode" -- that he calls "kitchen-sink realism" -- and the film has the "good sense" to keep in check the wild outrageous behaviors by the actors, with one exception. That exception is when the character playing John Malkovich (John Cusack) actually goes inside the head of the real actor John Malkovich, where Cusack confronts "some kind of endless Malkovichian feedback loop" (O'Hehir). The portal that allows others to enter Malkovich's head certainly comes into conflict with what is already in Malkovich's head. Those entering have "temporary access to John's sensory stream… [and] gets to experience the world through Malkovich's senses" as well as experiencing his pains and his pleasures prior to being ejected into a ditch near the New Jersey Turnpike (Shaw, 2000).

What happens to Malkovich's memory with all those individuals entering his head? Philosophy professor Daniel C. Shaw believes that Malkovich's DNA "presumably" stays the same notwithstanding all those intruders, but why is he a different person at the end of the film? What keeps John Malkovich as the real John Malkovich? The answer is his own memories, his own thoughts, his own desires -- to which "…he alone has access," Shaw posits -- keep him intact, notwithstanding the people that were using Malkovich. They never really became Malkovich, they only used him, is the view that Shaw puts forward.

There is no doubt that aside… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Cite This Essay:

APA Format

John Malkovich the Movie "Being.  (2011, August 31).  Retrieved December 10, 2019, from

MLA Format

"John Malkovich the Movie "Being."  31 August 2011.  Web.  10 December 2019. <>.

Chicago Format

"John Malkovich the Movie "Being."  August 31, 2011.  Accessed December 10, 2019.