Blood Simple

I read this article in Literary Hub about the Coen brothers film, The Tragedy of Macbeth. The article starts like this:

In the flawless, stainless neo-noir Blood Simple, the 1984 directorial debut of Joel and Ethan Coen and the acting debut of Joel’s soon-to-be wife Frances McDormand, a character clandestinely commits a murder in the back room of a Texas bar—an act that sets off a chain reaction of suspicion, guilt, and brutal coverups. In the background, on the bar wall, hangs a clever prop which will reappear numerous times throughout the film: a sign mandating that all employees wash their hands before returning to work—a bit of realistic décor as much as a harbinger of the ramifications to come, for its calling to mind the futile hand-washing hallucinations of Lady Macbeth after she and her husband kill the king of Scotland. In Blood Simple, as in Macbeth, murder is a permanently dirty act, and trying to wipe it away is not only impossible, but also leads to a much greater, much dirtier mess.

 Olivia Rutigliano, The Tragedy of Macbeth is a Breathtaking Exercise in Transformation, Literary Hub

I love the Coen brothers and I love Frances McDormand. Burn after reading is one of my favorite movies. I had never seen Blood Simple, what is strange is that I had never even heard of it. I decided to watch it this week, with much anticipation and excitement. My hopes were absolutely not deceived.

Blood Simple is the Coen brothers first movie. “After writing the screenplay, the Coen brothers—neither of whom had any prior experience in filmmaking—shot a preemptive dummy theatrical trailer for the film, which showed “a man dragging a shovel alongside a car stopped in the middle of the road, back towards another man he was going to kill” and “a shot of backlit gun holes in a wall.” The trailer featured actor Bruce Campbell, playing the Julian Marty role, and was shot by recent film school graduate Barry Sonnenfeld. After completing the trailer, the Coens began exhibiting it with the hope of convincing investors to help fund the full-length feature film. Daniel Bacaner was one of the first people to invest money in the project. He also became its executive producer and introduced the Coens to other potential backers. The entire process of raising the necessary $1.5 million took a year.” (Source)

While the film was only a modest box-office success, it was a huge critical success. It currently holds a 94% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 99 reviews, with a weighted average of 8.27/10. The critical consensus reads: “Brutally violent and shockingly funny in equal measure, Blood Simple offers early evidence of the Coen Brothers’ twisted sensibilities and filmmaking ingenuity.” And I could not agree more.

Leave a Reply