This movie is growing on me like lichen. At the end when Miss Cross takes off Max’s glasses, I cry every time. Though I still think the scene editing is better in Royal Tenenbaums, I think Rushmore and Royal Tenenbaums are truly peers; I would have a hard time now saying which is the better film. I still have a greater affection for Royal Tenenbaums because I have lived with it longer, but I’m getting toward 10 viewings of Rushmore now and I’m starting to understand how it works better.

I’m not ready to give my “observations on rushmore” but I have noticed interesting things with the names. Herman Blume has an interesting name. Herman could be literally “Her man” – the love triangle is the center of the story. Less literally and more by derivation, Herman means “Army Man” and that’s at the center too. Herman was in Vietnam, and he seems to get the brunt of the affect of Max’s final play. There is also the fact that he and Max are in a war for Miss Cross. Rosemary Cross is an interesting name too. First, again very literally, Max and Mr. Blume center their attention on her, there is a crossing of interests, and she is a crossroad in both of their lives. Max loses Rushmore on account of the first groundbreaking for the aquarium (all for her) and Blume loses all of his fortune on the second groundbreaking (all for her). Also, she has the name “Rosemary” – if she married Mr. Blume she would be Rosemary Blume! There is flower imagery there. Also, “Cross” as a reference to the cross she bears for Edward Appleby. Also, she is the locus of Max’s ultimate sacrifice; he sacrifices Rushmore for her, and finally, he sacrifices his own happiness for hers. Max’s name is like the Scottish guy’s name – “Max” and “Magnus” are related. Max Fisher – he is the most important fisher of men in the movie. The name connotes the same imagery that his involvement with the aquarium connotes. And then there is the idea that in the end he lures people together — all the reconciliation culminates at his Vietnam play. I can’t help but thing that these names have this meaning intentionally given Anderson’s other patterns of naming and how the names here are revealed rather dramatically and often visually. Max’s chapel partner, Dirk Calloway, has a name that can refer to a kind of knife (remember that Dirk gives Max a knife as his present and the knife is engraved like a tombstone with the from/to dates of Max’s Rushmore careers) – he is the observer of betrayal and is betrayed in the movie by Max – and the name Dirk relates to rule. Dirk is the one that reconciles Max and Mr. Blume to each other by arranging the hospital rendezvous. He heals the rift between them that he started by telling Max about Blume. I think Margaret Yang’s name tends to connote that she is finally the proper companion for Max – the yang to his yin, though in Chinese philosophy, yang is usually the male part of the opposing forces. Anyway, those are just a few thoughts on some of the names in the movie. Another part that makes me almost cry is when Herman Blume meets Bert Fisher. It is like he has come home.

14 thoughts on “Rushmore”

  1. We’ve finally seen it since we talked about it. We reacted similarly and are intent upon multiple viewings. Have you ever listened to any of the commentary on the Tenebaum DVD? Maybe Rushmore has similar commentary? I don’t know. Thanks for the observations!

  2. Clay – good work with the Pantagruel. You guys are getting a lot of notice very early.

    Yes, the commentary track on Rushmore is just as good and frustrating as the one on Royal Tenenbaums. Anderson purposefully holds back giving away all the secrets, I think. Perhaps someday I can interview him; I’ve been thinking of proposing it to a magazine. I’m not ready just yet because I want the questions to take into account Bottle Rocket and I don’t have a good understanding of that movie yet.

  3. Nice observations. What, in your opinion, is the meaning of the ending–Blume dancing with Yang; Max dancing with Ms. Cross?

  4. As much as I have wanted to like Rushmore, I just don’t. Maybe I haven’t seen it enough but I don’t find any of the characters likeable. And it doesn’t matter how clever or well constructed a movie is if I don’t care about the characters.

    I will say that the “Oh, are they?” line is one of the funniest lines in any movie.

  5. Jon – I thought that the ending might be one last attempt to hold on to that adolescent hope that the teenager really can get the beautiful teacher. Wouldn’t that make sense of the way that she removes his glasses, a very intimate sort of move.

  6. Yes, he’s definitely the more famous Barlow. I am pretty unconcerned with statistics about this site. I don’t provide an RSS feed, and I tell Apache to write the server log for this site to /dev/null meaning, in essence, the trash, so I don’t know how much traffic I get. I might supply an RSS feed someday when I get the next Mac operating system and they have the RSS reader built into the browser. Right now, I’ve never used those readers and don’t really like or understand the thrill of agregating a bunch of blog content out of context, but perhaps I’ll change my mind when I try Apple’s version of it.

  7. all you have to do is look at it like a sky scene and not an eye…but i guess that’s hard if you know what it is. 🙂

  8. Wow… I think these symbolic inferences are over the top and reminiscent of English 110. Anderson, like most directors is hellbent on creating entertainment– he happens to do it in strange and nostalgic ways. I would not deny that this film and other films have the capacity to communicate symbols both metaphorical and literal, but I do deny that searching for symbols is the best way to understand Anderson’s films. I suggest that as you watch the flick, you look through the eyes of a 12 year old bookish boy who’s enamored with certain names and objects because they’re “cool” and strike his fancy as appropriate for the tone and image of the character. Then again, English 110 was fun and I always enjoyed seeing the hidden story and find out what everything “represented” in some alternate Platonic version of the film which lived in metaphor. But you can’t buy that version in stores and it doesn’t put butts in seats, it usually lives in chain coffee shops and bored classrooms.

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