Sunday, February 10, 2008

Puppet Master & The Puppet in "Being John Malkovich"

Immediately in the film, we learn that Craig is a puppeteer by profession, or at least he would be if he had his dream job.  This fact falls to the side until Craig begins possessing John Malkovich and controlling him indefinitely like a puppet, a feat which he apparently can only do because of his experience as a puppet master.  We, the audience, implicitly understand that the relationship between the puppeteer/puppet is similar to that of a master/slave.  This is the case initially, but it is later subverted in the film.  While Craig is controlling Malkovich and living through him, we begin to see that Craig is actually the one that's being controlled in another manner by his puppet.  Craig enjoys fame and being married to Maxine, but they are not really his, they belong to Malkovich; essentially, it's really his puppet that is the star, not him.  By the end of the film, he has become a slave to Malkovich's body.  Even when he does give up possessing Malkovich to "save" his wife, as soon as  he finds out she does not love him anymore he attempts to repossess him.  He does not, however, know that the portal works differently after midnight when the host vessel turns 44 and when he goes back down the tunnel, he winds up trapped in the subconscious of Emily, the daughter of Maxine and Lotte (Craig's former wife).  He cannot control Emily as he could Malkovich and is forced to look on as his two loves, one he lost and another he couldn't have, enjoy their life together without him.  Thus, the puppet master and the puppet have switched places in regards to which is controlling the other.

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