The Machinist: A Psychological Portrait of a Killer Essay
The Machinist: A Psychological Portrait of a Killer Despite being an esoteric genre, several films dare to delve into the realm of psychological thrillers. Films such as “P'”, “Mainland Drive”, “Jacobs Ladder”, and “Memento” are some examples of suspenseful movies which tap into the human psyche. However, Brad Andersen’s 2004 film “The Machinist”, is a bit of an exception to this genre. Written by Scott Soar, although still suspenseful, this film focuses more into the psychological aspect, rather than the thriller.
To show this, the movie APS into mind of the protagonist not through voice-over narration or other click©d devices, but by nearness of Freudian psychoanalysis. Tremor Rezone, played by a dauntingly skinny Christian Bale, is a machine worker who supposedly has not slept “in a year”. Besides his skeletal appearance, Rezone also likes to wash his hands in either bleach or lye, write post-it notes for himself, drives to the airport for coffee and pie, and spends his money on a prostitute Unifier Jason-Leigh) so that he can have company.
Tremor’s co-workers and even his hooker girlfriend Steve are concerned ever his condition with her even saying “If you were any thinner, you wouldn’t exist” (2004). Among his idiosyncrasies, Tremor also seems to be seeing a reoccurring strange man, Ivan, who supposedly works at the same factory. One day while paired up with co-worker Miller, Rezone sees Ivan and gets distracted, resulting in Miller’s hand being severed by the machine. This leads too big fiasco with Tremor saying that the accident was caused due to Van’s distraction, but his boss claims that there is no Ivan working at the factory.
The plot thickens. Ivan then makes another appearance ND Tremor meets up with him at a local bar. Here Tremor tells Ivan that he needs to make an appearance because no one at work believes him. Subsequently, Tremor goes to work and while trying to fix a broken machine, it turns on and his arm gets caught in it and nearly loses an arm himself. When this happens Tremor flips out and begins to accuse everyone at the shop that they are conspiring against him and that someone turned on the machine on purpose.
It is also around the same time when he sees a post-it note on his refrigerator door which spells “-LEER”. Seeing Miller at work previously, he is now convinced that Miller was the one that set up the machine as an “eye for an eye” type revenge against him. Tremor then confronts Miller in his own house about this matter which results in a swift punch to the lower extremities. In lieu of all this, Tremor also has a “date” with Marie, the waitress at the airport coffee shop he frequents.
They go to an amusement park with her son Nicholas and Tremor takes him to Route 666, a cleverly themed bunkhouse ride which foreshadows both Tremor’s demise and his true situation. It is in this ride where the film’s psychological premise turns into the school of Freud. In the ride there are various symbols of car accidents, death, and other reoccurring themes in Tremor’s life. The ride also comes to a fork and one has to choose between the path to salvation or the path to darkness. The cart turns towards the dark side and results in Nicholas having an epileptic seizure.
However it should be noted that at this point of the film, the viewer begins to piece together places AT I reverse puzzle Ana Tanat Ivan, Nils Imaginary Eternal, ten post- t notes, the bleach, and the characters Marie and her son Nicholas are not as they appear to be. As it turns out, Tremor is actually guilty of a hit-and-run accident resulting in the death of a young boy, Nicholas. Ever since “the accident”, Tremor has been living in denial, repressing all thoughts of the event as if it never happened.
This results in him being in a state of paranoia, feeling the need to wash his hands in bleach to cleanse himself after he feels guilty, insomnia, a disturbing eating habit, ND conjuring up fake memories which causes him be psychotic. Psychotic enough to believe that his hooker girlfriend is cheating on him with his “friend” Ivan and that Ivan had kidnapped Nicholas. During this scene, he confronts Ivan and ultimately kills him, but only to find that Nicholas is not there. In the Freudian sense, Ivan serves more as Tremor’s conscience and super-ego and in defeating him, he is letting the id win.
Towards the end of the film, Tremor has Van’s dead body wrapped in a rug in which he pushes down a dock. Upon pushing the rug down into the lake, it unravels to see that nothing is there and that Ivan is now the officer with the flashlight staring at Tremor. This represents that no matter how hard he tries to repress his super-ego, it is there for a reason to balance out the id and the ego. Besides Freud, this film also deals with not only psychological issues, but also existential ones. A major component is the works of Voodoo Dostoevsky, a popular Russian writer and one of the founders of existentialism.
In the film, Tremor even reads a copy of “The Idiot” which is about an honest and “saintly’ man in a world filled with materialism and lies and is considered an idiot for being so. It can be said that Tremor feels this way and considers himself the “idiot” protagonist but is only doing so to repress the truth that he killed a young boy. Another reference to Dostoevsky in the film is the character of Ivan. In Dostoevsky critically-acclaimed masterpiece “The Brothers Karamazov’, the character of Ivan is a person ridden with guilt who begins to have nightmares featuring the devil and goes insane.
This is almost a direct parallel to Tremor’s character in that his guilt, personified by Ivan, follows him everywhere he goes until the very end of the film in which he finally turns himself into the police for the crime he committed. In following his super-ego, Tremor can finally admit that he is the “KILLER” depicted in the cryptic hangman post-it notes, that he is the person fishing in his picture, and at last can sleep in peace. Works Cited Anderson, B. (Director). (2004). The machinist [Motion Picture]. Spain: Paramount Pictures.