The Thoreauvian Connection in Upstream Color
Shane Carruth are two of my favorite words in the english language. They can be used in so many new and innovative ways. You can verb them, “Oh no way, you so Shane Carruth’d that thing!” You can adjective them, “That thing is so Shane Carruth right there!” Exclamation, “OH SHANE CARRUTH!” or noun, “That Shane Carruth is going to be fly today.”
And I think I’ve established myself over the years as such an enormous Shane Carruth fan that I don’t need to retread that fact with you all. If you are unaware of why I’m such a huge fan, here, or here please… and just keep moving.
Well, there was something about Upstream Color that just wouldn’t jive for me. Like, not at all. I have probably read 30 different interviews with the guy about the movie and a few things just kept standing out for me. It was as if Carruth was going so far out of his way to say he didn’t know Thoreau’s book Walden, and that it was a random selection, that was really quite incomprehensible. And I’ve gone back through the interviews, and I’m having a hard time finding them (if anyone knows off the top of their head what I’m referring to I’d love a link) – but generally right around the time of Upstream Color’s release Carruth was repeating over and over again that he couldn’t really remember ever having had read it, and that he wasn’t even specifically sure of what it was really about.
And now I’m wondering if I was making that up – and yet, its such a distinct memory. I’m not a forgetful guy, well, my wife would tell you something different on that front, but at least when it comes to Carruth anyway, I’m not forgetful! haha. Regardless, if you know anything at all about Thoreau, or about Walden in particular, that definitely struck me as really really strange.
Upstream Color… just the name smacks of natural systems and cyclical, repeating patterns in nature. The movie is a closed system depending on where you want to start it will revolve endlessly until the chain is broken. Worm, Pig, Orchid, Worm, Pig, Orchid, etc. I’ve included my original flow above that shows the cyclical nature of the movie and the systems involved. Which all lead us to Thoreau and Walden. Which the characters recite endlessly throughout the movie. Anyway, until I watched this short piece describing the connections between Thoreau and Carruth it was just a tickle in the brain that I couldn’t place. But this video by Anna Catley really knocks it out of the park.
Which brings me back to just how good this movie is. If you’ve never seen it, and you just watched this video clip, I guarantee it that you are saying to yourself… “What the hell…” But you really do owe it to yourself to watch this atmospheric and really moving movie that apparently is riddled with layer after layer of goodness we haven’t completely discovered even yet. Thanks Anna for pointing out yet another layer of goodness for us to delve further into!