Written by: Barbara Hall
Directed by: Michael Fresco
Aired: November 8, 1993
Log line: Maurice enlists Ed’s expertise to organize a film festival in Cicely; Joel is pressured to join Cicely’s volunteer fire department.
Listen to the podcast discussion of the episode here.
As mentioned on our podcast discussion, the episode “Rosebud” is largely focused on cinema. Maurice invites Ed to program a film festival; Ed watches films; he talks to Peter Bogdanovich; he reads books about cinema; he starts a script partially inspired by Citizen Kane (with its child’s sled); and Leonard even has the revelation that films are “white medicine.”
“Rosebud” even opens cinematically, with an 85 second long take. (You can find some information on shot lengths, including long takes, in our blog entry for the episode “War and Peace”.) It starts with a long shot of Maurice and Ed in the streets of Cicely. Gradually, they approach the location where the camera is positioned. As they move, the camera pans to keep them in the centre of the frame. When they reach the camera, it begins pulling back, keeping them framed as they continue to walk towards us. Eventually, they stop walking and the camera stops moving backwards. Maurice enters KBHR and Ed follows him. The camera follows Ed, but it takes a different route, going through the entrance to the recording studio, rather than the entrance to the offices. The result is that both Maurice and Ed are briefly obscured as the camera moves towards them. All of this foregrounds the function of the camera in the scene. Rather than being a static shot, we see the function of framing and cinematography at work.
Interestingly, the first cut in this scene involves a reaction shot of Ed enthusing about Reservoir Dogs, which was the talk of Sundance the year before (1992). “Harvey Keitel. Michael Madsen cuts off this guy’s ear. That’s a Sundance movie, Maurice,” he explains. Shortly after the ear-slicing scene in Reservoir Dogs, there is a cut that reveals which character in the film is the undercover police officer. It’s not as dramatic as, say, the reaction shot in Hitchcock’s Rope, which famously strung together reels of film to look as though the film was one long take (until the reaction shot, at least), but it’s a pretty dramatic reveal. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons they chose to use this shot of Ed as the first cut of the episode.
The next long take (approx. 50 seconds) involves a walk-and-talk scene with Ed and Leonard in the streets of Cicely. Here is where we learn about Leonard’s take on Pauline Kael and Bernardo Bertolucci.
At Maurice’s house, we will see Ed toting another film book, which will lead us to the introduction of Peter Bogdanovich. The book (co-written by Peter Bogdanovich) is called This is Orson Welles. Guess what Ed says when he later introduces Maurice to the bespectacled, cravat-wearing film director? “This is Peter Bogdanovich.” Pretty clever.
Orson Welles directed possibly the most famous opening long take in film history in Touch of Evil. It’s still an amazing scene, even over 50 years after it was filmed. (It ends with a vehicle exploding. It’s unlikely, but perhaps this was the seed for Joel’s truck exploding in this episode.)
Speaking of Joel’s truck, the framing of the scene where he calls for firefighting help includes a shot of his truck in the background. This highlights for us the disconnect between what Joel is saying (“My truck is throwing flames twenty feet up into the air”) and what we’re seeing. This shot is also contrasted with the point-of-view shot chosen to illustrate the goat being rescued. The absurdity of the situation, with the cute-as-a-button goat still grazing and unfazed, is right before our eyes. (Citizen Kane also featured many unusual point-of-view shots.)
One of the most interesting long takes in the episode (it’s just over a minute long) shows Ed watching a famous long take in Welles’ film The Magnificent Ambersons. The camera does a complete 360 degree turn, beginning with the screen Ed is watching, panning to show him transfixed by the film, and ending on the other side of his head. It’s a beautiful moment.
Both of Ed’s scenes with Peter Bogdanovich also include long takes (each lasting approx. a minute): the one where they arrive at Maurice’s house, and the one where they walk in the woods together.
The last film clip we see is from Citizen Kane. This is the film that Leonard derives his idea of “white medicine” from. It’s worth noting that Citizen Kane ends with a child’s sled and so does the episode “Rosebud”, with it appearing in the opening description in the screenplay Ed is typing.
- Tab Benoit – “Nice and Warm”
Chris announces the Fire Department is looking for new recruits.
- Mel Torme – “One Morning in May” [Replaced in DVD version]
Shelly tells Leonard about the hook man.
- Sass Jordan – “Time Flies” [Replaced in DVD version]
Leonard speaks to Chris, who’s playing pool.
- Wally Badarou – “The Dachstein Angels” [Replaced in DVD version]
Themes / Recurrences: Creativity/art; life purpose; community; stories.
The Good: We loved how this episode really showed Ed’s love of cinema; Leonard’s quest to find “healing stories” in the white community was pretty amusing too.
The Bad: It was surprising to us that an experienced businessman like Maurice would expect Ed to do all the work in starting a film festival in such a short time frame.
The Notable: Nearly everyone in the town belongs in the volunteer fire department, it seems. We also notice that Leonard, like most of people in the town, loves his hot sauce.
On’s rating: 8.5 out of 10.
Shane’s rating: 9.0 out of 10.