The Panic in Needle Park

The Panic in Needle Park ★★★★

our lives mean a great deal, to us. 

to anyone else we may be a passing body in the street, a face they wish to avoid looking at, a brief but comforting smile on the train, but we mean nothing to them, absolutely nothing. 

in this life we are tossed obstacles by the da in matters of work, of relationships, desires, yet each and every one of those are to be dealt with alone. why? because that is exactly the way we have been brought up. 

the world at large tells us that strangers are dangerous, that poverty is inevitable, and that addiction is a sign of weakness. the reason we are able to think this way, to be able to see the world through such a lens, is because the world allows us to do so, it forces us to do so. the governments by which we rule, the society which we, including officials, are stuck within, has taught us to pin ourselves against one another, to fight against the conventionality of decency, and keeping us torn apart, left to sink further into the pits that have been made for us.

the reason for this? well, what could it be other than to detract our attention from our ridiculous acceptance of all of these thought processes, for if we had realised the reality of it and had fought against it, then we would surely damage the entire state of our existences, causing us to have to start anew. 

but life could never reach this idealised state of mass antagonism and uprising again, for the time for this seems to have passed. maybe somewhere in the distant future the situation may change, but as of now the dispossessed remain trodden upon by the rest of society, leaving them to look down upon them as though they are a waste of life, yet offering no help to them in their hopeless circumstances. 

the cinematography and characterisation with that raw, Cassavetes-esque styling that became so characteristic of this era of American independent cinema. it has such realist beauty to it, but leaving a sense of detachment between you and the characters themselves, destroying that close connection, for it is truly more effective in your way of realising the damage done by ignoring. in real life you can avoid looking, while watching a film you have no choice but to assert all of your energy and attention to the story itself, leaving you drained by your own cathartic dilemma, one that screams at you, one that shouts and makes you realise your own blind-ignorance. 

and then i have to mention the acting, which is so rich in essence and believability that you would genuinely think that you are watching a documentary. i think that this works hand in hand with this sort of filmmaking however, as it seems to overflow into this idea of neorealist beliefs, falling into those darkened passages of society, tearing down the stigmas that are placed around them, and allowing the entire world to see what they had been blindly ignoring. there was one scene in particular which will haunt me - for those who have seen it, it is the first scene when Bobby takes Helen to the ‘den’ - with just one continuous shot it managed to make my stomach turn in horror, just wishing i could do something, yet feeling so worthless in my inability to aid in any way. 

i can’t say enough how important i believe these sorts of films to be, these sort of ‘expose’s on society’, the revelation that occurs outside your own world cannot merely cease to exist. it pushes you to look upon the darkness in the skies, the world beneath the ground, and the possibilities beyond your minds capabilities of realisation. we are only restricted to thinking, and feeling, what we wish ourselves to do, and so beyond that there is more to it than we could ever imagine. 

it might not be my favourite film, but that does not make it any less horrific, and definitely not any less indispensable.

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