Deadwood: A Study Of Anarchy

Deadwood titleimage.jpg

max ashley 25/8/14

HBO’s Deadwood is the story of Anarchy or, if you prefer, Self Rule, and follows the story of a relatively newly established 1870 illegal mining camp on Indian Land that succeeds in the harsh conditions and progresses under self rule during harsh times while under threat from internal and external forces that want to wrestle Self Rule from the group and control it. This progression includes a study of society through creation of control which in a capitalistic society is based on the creation of wealth. This is addressed with the individual, the gang and the group so naturally also addresses the worth of a person, personal wealth, personal wealth connected to corporations, corporations, corporations connected to government…and…then…it abruptly ends on the first page of “government” due to a lack of funding, which could in part be as a result of the high costs of production. It would also be fair to say that part of the funding problem lies in the natural progression of the story. It would have gotten ugly, a bit too close to bone for the financiers. Whether planned or not the final episode finishes with the question: have we lost total control of our Self Rule? An extremely poignant and timely question to finish on.

Underlining this is a wonderfully study of Honour, which introduces elements of tribal, natural law, common law, law of the land and the question of justice. Importantly for me, as a white, hetro male living in a reality where the white, hetro male is under constant attack, there is also the question; “what does it mean to be a Man”? The answer is skilfully woven with the threads of Honour.

The 2 main themes are also a major feature.
What is good? What is bad? This theme always hangs on the tree of belief. Deadwood presents an obvious “Bad Man” and an obvious “Good Man” but are the obvious labels correct?
What is reality? What is illusion? Another fruit from the tree of belief. Deadwood views whom is controlling whom? Is what is explained or said reality or illusion?

It’s no wonder that both of these themes are the favourites of the Masters. Both hanging from Belief and both ripened by the reassuring glow of Trust. A delicious pairing of themes.

The story is told in the colourful language of Old English where the scenes are painted with this beautifully descriptive and direct language. The often sublime imagery is juxtaposed and sculptured with the roughness of the times where “cock sucker” and “cunt” become the crude phonetic chisels of a master, and paradoxically become a part of the beauty. Ahh yes, it also has paradoxes.

Most t.v. series these days have a monologue in, if not every episode then the vast majority of episodes and so it is with Deadwood, with the exception that in Deadwood we get, more often than not, a “blow-job monologue” of true Shakespearean proportions where the surreal imagery gives rhythm to the skillfully crafted composition of words.

Script writing, directing, acting, camera, production; it’s all so…so…well crafted.
Deadwood is a series that will get you through a small three series portion of winter and leave you looking through your window for the rest of the winter knowing there is still some fire in answer to that final question…have we lost total control of self rule?…

Energy and thoughts from the volcano…max


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