Timing in Magnolia

We finished class today bringing up the concept of time in Magnolia compared to the other films we have previously watched. I think in the other films, we as viewers were challenged to see the future and how that future how it was influenced or caused by what was happening in the present day. However, in the film Magnolia, viewers are challenged to look at the past and how that affects not only our future, but the future of others as well.

For example, Jimmy’s past of possibly abusing his daughter and his past of infidelity with his wife, lead to Claudia having a cocaine addiction and a strained relationship with both her and his ex-wife. His past is both Claudia’s past and his wife’s past. They make up a new web of character interactions that isn’t just black and white what we see when we first watch this film. Claudia’s cocaine addiction will probably affect Jim’s future because that is not just something that goes away quickly. Especially as a cop, he is now dating someone that is addicted to an illegal drug.

In addition, Earl’s past of infidelity leads to a strained relationship with his son Frank. He also has a rocky relationship with his wife Linda, who is constantly unfaithful to Earl as well, which ultimately leads to her attempting suicide. Although Frank tries to come visit his father on his death bed, he never gets the chance to fully fix things with his father because he dies. So Frank’s future will never contain his father and he’ll never have that relationship.

Looking into your past is an incredibly revealing method to see where your future can end up. Many of these characters shaped their present and future by decisions they made in their pasts. In addition, their pasts are not explicitly their pasts, they are also other people’s pasts, making a complex web of interactions that shape how each person ends up. What may be a “positive” experience for someone, may not be that way for others. Can you predict your own apocalypse just by looking at your past?


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