Eternal Recurrence

Beginning at the end with Roman Polanski
by David Cairns   posted Sep 8, 2011

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Yes, well Jake tells us that when he was a cop in Chinatown he tried to keep someone he cared about from getting hurt and in the end, since it's impossible to judge what's really going on "in Chinatown", his actions ended up ensuring she WAS hurt. So in this way the film's story is a Vertigo-style recurrence of that earlier, unglimpsed plot. The cyclical nature is even more pronounced, in this light, than in many other films, but the story that's repeated is disposed of in a couple of mumbled sentences, referred to again at the end with Jake's almost inaudible last words, "As little as possible."
dcairns   posted 28.09.11

There is a cyclical nature in Chinatown, but not as obstinate as Polanski's other films. They allude to Gittes time in Chinatown in the past and one of the final lines is 'Forget it Jake, it's Chinatown.' In terms of narrative I believe 'Chinatown' is the earliest reference in Jake's character's existence. So it states the beginning of his fictional existence in Chinatown and ends his existence on screen in Chinatown. All to be told to repress it as if his life's work is a massive insignificance.
mhcase22   posted 21.09.11

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Paramount Home Video
Roman Polanski in his film The Tenant
Photo Gallery: Eternal Recurrence


September 7–30, 2011 Roman Polanski


Roman Polanski  |  Retrospective


David Cairns is a writer, director, and blogger. His short film Cry For Bobo (2001) has won 24 awards around the world. He has written for several UK TV series including Intergalactic Kitchen and Twisted Tales. His articles have appeared in The Village Voice, The Believer, and Senses of Cinema.

More articles by David Cairns
Author's Website: Shadowplay