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Author Topic: THUNDERBOLT AND LIGHTFOOT: The Story 5: Rabbits and a Raccoon  (Read 12112 times)
KC
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« on: June 27, 2004, 10:33:16 AM »

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Our heroes hitch a ride with an old guy in a beat-up car. The character is played by Bill McKinney in the first of his seven appearances in Malpaso productions, who as an improvisation--encouraged, he said later, by Clint--made the man talk as if he had a cleft palate. This lunatic keeps a caged raccoon in the front seat next to him and has rigged the car's exhaust so that it empties carbon monoxide into the car. No reason is given for this: apparently it's just his way of dicing with death. He also has a trunk full of rabbits, which, again for no reason, he starts shooting with a shotgun (most of them blithely hop away as he begins firing). Is this idle, if hilarious, surrealism? Or is this a symbol of the impotent rage of a country that has lost its way?
(Clint Eastwood: a Biography, by Richard Schickel, p. 306)

Do you think the scene with the crazy driver is just a humorous break in the movie or do you feel it had a purpose? Why do you think Thunderbolt and Lightfoot ran across him? Why do you think he had all those rabbits in the trunk? And, why do you think he would have the exhaust pipe venting into the back seat?
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Agent
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« Reply #1 on: July 06, 2004, 09:35:44 AM »

I believe this scene was thrown in to show how unpredictable and spontaneous situations become when traveling on the road, especially cross-country. To me, this is one of the most realistic scenes in the whole movie, where nothing makes sense. It's not meant to make sense -  it just happens. No reasoning, no explanation......it just happens. I wouldn't doubt if the writer(s) based this scene on a real-life incident sometime somewhere, and just added it to show the insanity of real life and 'expect anything to happen' attitude when out on the road. More of a narrative rather than a reason.

I choose not to rationalize why he had rabbits or had the exhaust in the car - the guy was somewhat insane, yet sane enough to build a hopped-up big block Mopar(?), which takes alot of rational thinking, planning, and skill - at least judging from the sound of the motor. It wasn't just a jacked-up POS with fat tires and glass packs. Again, it could have been stolen.... :)
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allycat
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« Reply #2 on: July 07, 2004, 06:54:33 AM »

Yeah, I agree with Agent, I think it represents the fact that not everything makes sense - that some things are meaningless, like Lightfoot's death (what I mean is, his death's not meaningless, exactly, but senseless, really, and this scene helps to emphasise that - it emphasises the craziness of it all). In a way, (and you can call this a ridiculous comparison if you like, but hey, that's me!) this made me think of Easy Rider...the being out on the road - they're both road movies really - and the senseless waste of life at the end, and the loss of the American Dream. I suppose I should have posted this in the thread about Lightfoot's death ;)
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« Reply #3 on: July 24, 2004, 03:39:23 PM »

i thought it was to show the futility of them running  - that this pair were not destined to make it

everything like the cinema where they are caught by the cinema lady - nothin is destined to go right

although funnily enough the robbery goes off fine - it seems one of the quirks of the film
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Xichado
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« Reply #4 on: October 12, 2004, 08:13:13 AM »

Do you think the scene with the crazy driver is just a humorous break in the movie or do you feel it had a purpose? Why do you think Thunderbolt and Lightfoot ran across him?

This is probably one of my favorite scenes in the whole movie. I agree with what the other members said in their posts.

But, from a symbolism point of view, I believe this scene has a purpose and there is a reason why they (Thunderbolt and Lightfoot) took a ride with this guy. Here's how I see it:

Everything within that car and the ride has a connecting to Thunderbolt and/or his past...

  • The Caged Raccoon:
    Raccoons are known to be skillful and agile animals but they are mainly though as thieves... the black spots around their eyes reminds people of a mask, the mask worn by thieves. A thief locked in a cage, locked in a past from which -no matter how hard he tries- he (Thunderbolt) cannot escape from. Using some lyrics from the Doors: "Playing warden to your soul, You are locked in a prison of your own devise"

  • The White Rabbits:
    Rabbits, even before Christian times, were associated with renewal and this “pagan” belief was later associated with Easter and Easter celebrates the death of Christ and his resurrection. I could see it as a symbol of the past that Thunderbolt tried to escape from and that same past is being “resurrected”… but the number of rabbits -too many- left me wondering if this could be the right symbolism for the rabbits and I kept hearing Grace Slick‘s haunting voice telling  me to “go ask Alice, when she’s ten feet tall”... whew!!! spooky!

    “Alice in Wonderland”, the story of a young girl that follows a white rabbit -concerned about time- thru a rabbit hole and finds herself in a place where “logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead”. Ok, unless Lightfoot’s drag name was Alice and Thunderbolt was/is the White Rabbit, I’ll leave the gay subtext for some other thread ;)

    I tried to find some other symbolism for the rabbits but then I got hungry, and rabbit tastes so gooooood!

    Anyway, in Chinese astrology the rabbit can be seen as a lucky and prosperous symbol… it seems to me there are half-million rabbits inside that trunk (if I grab a few rabbits and make a stew with them, no one will notice, right???  ;)) and I believe they could represent the half-million dollars stacked behind the blackboard and how lucky Thunderbolt was in finding that old school.
Right now, I cannot continue this post since I am getting late for an appointment but I'll be back during the day and finish my thoughts about this scene.
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Matt
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« Reply #5 on: October 12, 2004, 04:37:21 PM »

Xichado, you are the Symbolism King! Very, very impressive... I'm looking forward to hearing the rest of your thoughts.
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KC
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« Reply #6 on: October 12, 2004, 06:38:18 PM »

Wonderful post, Xichado! I'm so glad you're back!
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vik
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« Reply #7 on: October 14, 2004, 02:32:54 AM »

yeh nice post - cool

i thought maybe the rabbit was like pulling a rabbit out of a hat

the same with the old school - like magic
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mgk
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« Reply #8 on: January 30, 2005, 05:57:07 PM »

Thanks to everyone for participating in this discussion. This topic is now closed, please post any additional thoughts in the General Discussion forum.
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The Schofield Kid
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« Reply #9 on: September 03, 2011, 05:50:42 AM »

This topic has been temporarily unlocked.  Feel free to post any additional thoughts or discussion here.
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The Schofield Kid
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« Reply #10 on: April 22, 2013, 06:53:52 PM »

Thanks, everyone! This thread is now locked.  Please post any additional thoughts you have on this topic in the General Discussion forum.
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