Customer Review

8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mixed Metaphors, April 14, 2007
This review is from: Rain Man (Special Edition) (DVD)
The first thing that pleased me about this purchase was the new cover, synchronously both the same but not the same as the original. Gone was the huge tree-lined drive of the institution from which Charlie was springing his autistic brother, and in its stead appeared a country road underfoot and a beautiful blue sky towering above them, stretching forever and ever.

The Internet is overloaded with reviews of the movie Rain Man that have missed the main point of the movie, but the Special Edition of the movie will at the very least have put paid to most of them. Just watch the featurette. It lasts only a few minutes but explains all that had hitherto been missing from those tens of thousands of words.

I remember watching the movie on its release and reading in the acknowledgements mention of the role that the autistic society of America played. Yet only concentrating on this and the fact that Hoffman won the Oscar for his role as the autistic Ray (not Cruise who played his brother Charlie) has led many to falsely assume this movie is about Raymond, and thus autism. The producer sets this sidetrack straight in the featurette when he states that the movie is not about Raymond but Charlie, as he is the one who changes.

Films communicate their stories through the metaphors they contain. Once you can understand the metaphors, you can understand the movie. By realizing that autism is the vehicle and Charlie's change is the tenor, we can finally get the story's meaning the right way around.

To confirm this fact, Tom Cruise comments that Charlie learns to live life again through his brother, Raymond, who is autistic, and that Charlie is an "emotional autistic". Most films' appeal is a character with strong emotions who changes. Although Charlie changes, Ray is not emotional and does not change. But it was Hoffman who won the Oscar for Best Actor, not Cruise, and he had even suggested that Ray be autistic for the final shooting script. The subject is Charlie's change which we measure by Ray's lack of one. The main metaphor is autism, more than the car or even the journey. Ray's immutability is the yardstick that allows us to savor all the more Charlie's transformation into a feeling human being.

The final word from the featurette must go to Hoffman as he made the movie such a major part of himself and vice versa. He spells out his own heart by explaining that, when we meet people whose lives are touched by autism, we can't help but to be affected by them. And we hope that if we could just give them enough love they might somehow be released from their condition. The movie wanted the audience to somehow feel the same way.

Charlie has to travel the breadth of America to find out that, though that's impossible, trying to do so can help us heal ourselves. And finally, returning to the box cover, another often missed facet of the movie is also made clear - from the puff of sand when Charlie u-turns at the news of his father's death, through the dead roses, dried up pool, then the rain that weeps into it like tears, the background also transmogrifies as the sky expands in ever deeper shades of blue, love blooming in the gorgeous greening, and the high point, the fountains shooting high into the sky outside the casino hotel after Charlie's new family, Ray and Suzanna are all reunited.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jun 1, 2007 9:01:55 AM PDT
Scipio says:
Nice analysis.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 16, 2009 8:27:33 AM PST
D. Mikels says:
Great observations. Well put!!
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