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Monday, October 19, 2009
Cajun Song from the Movie 'Southern Comfort'
Please Read this First
Southern Comfort, the movie, was released in 1981. It became a very popular movie among the Cajuns because it manage to capture and harness that mystical sense of cultural pride and the common bonds shared by the Acadians who live along the swamps and bayous of southern Louisiana. That centuries-old neighborliness does still flourish there today. The bad guys in the movie were eventually defeated in the end and that is something which plays well in my book.
This film clip shows a typical Cajun fais do-do, (pronounced FAY-DOE-DOE), which usually includes the serving of foods like gumbo, bar-b-que, pig roasts, beans, potato salad, ... cold beer ... the list gets larger ... and of course, a boucherie where fresh pork sausage and boudin is made right there on the spot.
In the old days fais do-do celebrations marked special occasions, like anniversaries, milestone birthdays, and extended family reunions. It is not unusual for hundreds of people to attend such events -- all from one common family tree.
The places which were selected for the events usually included a dance hall of some sort ... possibly an old barn or vacant cabin, ... or under large tents ... and often times near water channels like bayous and edges of the swamp, many of 'em could be similar to the backdrop seen through the eyes of Corporal Harding as he gazes out from inside the dance barn.
In my search for decent Cajun themes in modern movies, I found that this one may have presented a slight overkill about the way Cajuns take care of things, but it didn't lack for good scenery. It was as close to the real thing that I could find, except maybe for this one low-budget film called "Little Chenier" written, produced and directed by Bethany Ashton Wolf and released in 2006.
In my mind it's kind of a toss-up between the two, as far as natural landscape scenery goes, and probably deserves more side-by-side comparisons before a final determination is made.
"Little Chenier" was slightly predictable. The creators of that film used a mildly retarded character, skillfully portrayed by actor Frederick Koehler, as a focal point for their good vs. evil story plot. It was done simply and on the cheap, yet it simply managed to invoke a bit of nostalgia in me which I enjoyed.
The photographers in that piece did an exceptional job with what they had on hand -- a cornucopia of natural swamp scenes which painted the landscape in the area of their filming and to which no artist, if it were a canvas, other than God Himself, could re-create.
It's such a pity there aren't more movies made in Cajun country. Good ones!
All of the graphics and scenes grow freely and naturally in full glory. Everything a movie producer would need is already there like an open book -- just fill in the blanks with good script, actors and cameras and voila! ... you've got another movie. Don't forget the mosquito repellent, tho.
The clip shown here marks a turning point in the movie for the characters of its top billing actors, Keith Caradine and Powers Booth.
After certain members of their squad played a childish prank on the locals it caused all hell to break loose in the Louisiana swamps.
Commanded by a paranoid Corporal Hardin, played by Booth, (and in this scene with a devil-may-care Pfc. Simms), portrayed by Caradine, the military guys suddenly find themselves in the middle of a Cajun hoedown, in hot pursuit by angry men who want to kill them, and the question eventually comes down to how can they escape the threat of immediate danger by pushing forward and forging through an equally dangerous swamp -- will they make it?
As the guards try to find a way out of their unexpected predicament, the story pits a fierce clan of deep-swamp Cajun men against an entire dispatch of weekend warriors carrying only blank cartridges in their weapons. I'll let you guess who wins?
But, it's the ambiance, especially during this particular scene, which I wanted to share with you anyway, because it correctly depicts the festive get-together which were so typical of the ones I grew-up around when I was a kid, and not so much the story's content. I hope you enjoy the fais do-do part and the Cajun French song (please don't ask me what the words mean).
A WORD OF CAUTION: For those of you with queasy stomachs, you may want to look away during the final seconds of the clip when a hog is put down for the boucherie.
Written and directed by Michael Kane, David Giler and Walter Hill, along with a cast of talented actors, (Autry, Ward, Coyote, Seales, Smith), this movie strongly accents the message that one should not mess around with Cajuns and their way of life.
Although a bit presumptuous, the movie's timing was alright as it created wonderful fodder for the locals to talk about for generations to come. It evolved into a true Cajun cult classic.
I can almost hear a typical conversation now, ... "there was a movie that was made 'bout us. Yep, it's true! ... just a couple miles south of here ... look over there ... from here you can see that part of the bayou where they did the filming. See the bend by that crooked oak tree over there ... look to the left ...".
But, in the overall grand scheme of things, this film managed to create an image of Acadiana which became a little more noticeable and a tiny bit larger on the world scene than she had prior to its release. So, that was a plus.
At the same time it gave us yet another rare peek into the everyday lives of Cajuns living along the bayous and swamps of south Louisiana. (Did I mention the mosquito spray?)
CYL (catch you later) Ahheee!!
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