Just shy of three years ago I posted a video capture of Marlon Brando‘s air-bubble death scene in Edward Dmytryk‘s The Young Lions. For over a decade I’ve been calling this the most ingenious use of water and oxygen to convey the dying of the light, bar none. No other screen actor had gone there before or has gone there since, at least to my knowledge.
The sane and reasonable Barack Obama was president during the initial posting. At the time only a small community of rightwing loons were taking the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump as a half-serious proposition. Why am I mentioning this? Because Trump announced his candidacy on the same day that I posted “Bluray Brando Bubbles.”
Brando’s Christian Diestl is in a forest not far from a recently liberated concentration camp, sick of war and madly bashing his rifle against a tree. Then he runs down a hillside and right into the path of Dean Martin‘s Michael Whiteacre and Montgomery Clift‘s Noah Ackerman. Ignoring the fact that Diestl is unarmed, Whiteacre fires several bullets and Diestl tumbles down the hill. He lands near a shallow stream and then splashes into it, face down.
“The camera goes in tight, showing that Brando’s mouth and nose are submerged. A series of rapidly-popping air bubbles begin hitting the surface — pup-pup-pup-pup-pup-pup-pup — and then slower, slower and slower still. And then — this is the mad genius of Brando — two or three seconds after they’ve stopped altogether, a final tiny bubble pops through. There’s something about this that devastates all to hell.”