"I'm just so glad we're spending our vacation at home," newlywed Barbara Maitland (Geena Davis) declares at the beginning of . She means it, too. This isn't someone who's making the best of a bad situation: She likes the house she shares with Adam (Alec Baldwin); she's happy with the way they've decorated it; she seems to be really into cleaning; and there's a model of the town they live in sitting in the attic waiting to be tinkered with. The Maitlands have what so many of us wish for: the time and space to sit around the house, pursuing little side projects and hanging out with a significant other. Or, I should say, they have what so many of us wished for. But things look different on the other side.
After dying in an accident, the Maitlands find themselves haunting their home. Though it takes a moment to get used to, it's not all that different from vacation mode. There are small issues—Barbara can't use the vacuum cleaner because it's in the garage, and any time they step out of the house they fall into a Dali-esque purgatory—but for the most part, it's fine. They adjust to the new normal. That is, until the house gets sold to the Deetzes, New Yorkers fleeing the city who have big plans for remodeling. The arrival of the home's new owners, coupled with the realization that they'll be haunting their home for 125 years, troubles the deceased couple's extended vacation. But Beetlejuice isn't a cautionary tale about being careful (or at least specific) about what you wish for. The real problem posed by the film comes down to process: To get the Deetzes out, the Maitlands have to learn new skills, follow a complex set of rules for the recently deceased, and navigate a labyrinthine afterlife casework system. Dying is no big deal; it's the bureaucracy that'll kill you.
Beetlejuice consistently surprises with what it chooses to emphasize and what it treats as commonplace. The film repeatedly makes the point that death is the least strange aspect of the Maitlands' journey. For instance, Burton gives the film's idyllic set-up a foreboding gloss: In the opening moments, as the camera soars over the town, the streets are completely empty. It looks like Adam's model—or like Dustin Hoffman and the crew from already came through. Seconds later, a spider climbs across buildings on the actual model, and Adam gently plucks it from the structure, coos at it amiably…and throws it out the window. I don't know anything about spiders that wasn't covered in Charlotte's Web, 幸运飞艇信誉靠谱计划微信群but this seems a bit intense.
Delia Deetz (Catherine O'Hara), meanwhile, has very little trouble adjusting to the idea that there are ghosts in the house, but she simply cannot abide their taste. "They're in there?" she asks when her goth stepdaughter Lydia (Winona Rider) tells her the Maitlands are in the attic. "They must live like animals!" Minutes later she's reminding Lydia of a life lesson that seems to precede their extraordinary circumstances: "You have got to take the upper hand in all situations, or people—whether they're dead or alive—will walk all over you." The key to navigating the world in Beetlejuice, then, is to know the rules—or make up your own. And that's especially clear with the introduction of the titular character (Michael Keaton), who must be invoked three times to be released. He's not vanquished until Barbara decides she's can, in fact, go into the Dali desert and ride a sandsnake into the house. To best the bureaucratic strangeness of life and afterlife, you have to know when to follow the rules and when to rely on your own inventiveness.
As is the case with many horror-comedies (including Death Becomes Her, which we revisited earlier this week), piercing the veil between life and death has an effect not unlike pulling back the curtain on the Wizard of Oz: it exposes the small but consequential untruths we've glommed onto because we think we need them to survive. In Beetlejuice, one untruth is that the living know how to live. When Adam asks Lydia how she's able to see dead people, she replies that she's read the whole Handbook for the Recently Deceased. "It says, 'Live people ignore the strange and unusual.'" The Deetzes are presented as the otherworldly intruders in the home, rather than the ghosts who walk the halls. In this world, it's the living who are haunting their own lives.
幸运飞艇信誉靠谱计划微信群The opportunity presented by the film—and by the Maitlands' staycation, to which they happily return—is the chance to pay attention to the strange and unusual, and to treat it like a part of the fabric of every day: to be present in the strangeness, even while absent from life—metaphysically or otherwise.