Contrast And Contradictions In Barton Fink Film

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Barton Fink, a film by brothers Ethan and Joel Coen, is meant to be a study of contrasts and contradictions. Set just before the start of World War II the story centers on the lives of two characters, the eponymous Barton Fink and his next door neighbor, the “common man” insurance salesman Charlie Meadows. Barton is presented as a young playwright from New York City whose desire is to produce “a new living theater, of and about the common man.” His craft represents “high art” but is convinced to come to Hollywood by the promise of a high salary to produce “low art” film scripts. He comes off as cold, uncaring, and perhaps a bit neurotic. Even though he can afford better living arrangements Barton chooses to stay at the Hotel Earle, a seedy drab hotel because of his desire to live like a common man. His room contains the picture of a woman at the beach which he regards more and more favorably over time. After being given an assignment to write a wrestling film, about which he knows very little and can be seen as the definition of a “low art” film, Barton suffers from writers block. He then complains to the front desk about the noise coming from his next door neighbor’s room and subsequently meets Charlie Meadows. Charlie is presented as warm and friendly but who is…show more content…
All the characters are very superficial, dressed in pastels, eating and drinking well and too often! Although lip service is paid to the “art form” the writers produce it is clear that the bottom line is all that really matters to the power brokers. Also, it is interesting to note that the Coen brother wrote the screenplay for Barton Fink while taking an unscheduled break from writing the script for another one of their films, “Miller’s Crossing”. This theme of writers block and Hollywood pressure to produce obviously provides the core ideas behind the Barton Fink
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