Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Playing chess with Death

Alright, I have to confess: I was a big fan of the Animaniacs back in the day, and to my mind the funniest episode was the one where either Yakko and Dot played checkers with Death, in a parody of Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal.

This is a fandub, but you get the idea.

Well, Ingmar Bergman has died, and to commemorate I provide you (again) with Iowahawk's homage to Bergman (ca. 2005), Hazardous Dukes.

Interior shot of a backwoods cabin in rural Georgia. The room is tastefully decorated with Bruno Mathsson lounge chairs, Eero Saarinen side tables, a rebel flag and moonshine still. An old bearded man lies on a vintage midcentury Alvar Aalto death bed.

NARRATOR (Gunnar Biörnstrand)
Just plumb about everybody in Hazzard County has a story to tell 'bout them Duke boys and their existential auto-didactism. This one starts back at the farm, where Bo 'n' Luke are about to find out that Uncle Jesse has a little surprise in store for 'em...

UNCLE JESSE (Max Von Sydow)
Bo, Luke. Come to my side, nephews.

(Cousins Bo and Luke, scions of Uncle Jesse's crumbling moonshine dynasty, enter.)

LUKE (Börje Ahlstedt)
What is it you want, Uncle?

(Bo and Luke exchange long, blank glance; a Hans Wegner clock ticks on a far wall)


BO (Ashton Kutcher)
Your despair has shaken our complacency. I shall bring your jug.

It is the same Blomvo jug that Aunt Bessie long ago bought for you at Ikea... when you were young and happy.

Its design is elegant; yet, like life, it brings me no joy. I am compelled to smash it, like my own existence.

But you must live, Uncle.

Why must I live? Life is a meaningless parade of pain, and loneliness, and revenuers.

(Bo and Luke stare; close-up of ticking clock)

You must live to see the outlaw dirt sprints at Hazzard County Speedway Saturday night. There is a $2000 prize, and Bo and I have entered the General Sundqvist.

(pan to kitchen table; close-up of Cooter bolting Holley Dominator carb to Edelbrock Torker intake)

Perhaps you are right, Luke. Your exegesis has taught me that the pain of life can be borne, if only for the nihilism of the dirt track.

(thinking) I am the one who has brung his jug, yet Uncle Jesse can only express love to Luke.

COOTER (Sean Penn)
(thinking) I am the one who has competely rebuilt their carb, yet I remain only an honorary Duke.

(Pan zoom to cabin door, where the Grim Reaper has been observing; he silently drops sickle, smashing the clock)

Well how 'bout that... looks like Ol' Uncle Jesse done stirred up the Duke social hierarchy and got ol' Death all riled up like a big ol' hive of yellowjackets!

Read the rest.


Anonymous said...

What's a "fandub"?

mrsdarwin said...


In this case, the voices in the cartoon are not the originals, but the work of a fan (I believe an aspiring voice actor) who dubbed in all the voices himself. He did a good job though; the voices sound pretty similar to the ones I remember (at this fifteen year remove!).

Often the term refers to fans translating and dubbing in English voices for foreign animation.

CMinor said...

When I heard of Bergman's passing for some reason my thoughts went immediately to the knight playing chess with Death, and the Dukes of Hazzard.

Thanks a bunch, Iowahawk.