Sunday, January 9, 2011

This Week In Non-House Hugh Laurie: A Pin For The Butterfly

I'm not sure if this is a sign of the film-making style of the mid 90s, or if Hugh Laurie was just taking whatever roles he could get as a means of branching out from his usual goofball schtick, but these last few clips have been really fucking weird. Last week, we get a mostly naked Laurie practicing Thai Chi as a way to cope with his life as a con artist collapsing around him (thanks for the explanation from clat, by the way). This week, we get something that makes naked Thai Chi seem perfectly reasonable.

It comes from a 1994 movie called A Pin for the Butterfly. In it, Laurie plays an uncle to Marushka, a little girl who wants to escape the clutches of Stalinist Communism in Czechoslovakia and travel to America. This was an entry at Cannes, so you know you're in for some melodrama. But there is no real way to prepare you for what happens starting at around the 1:50 mark.

What the hell was that? Did we really just watch Hugh Laurie kill himself via electrified fence? Either this is a dream sequence, or Laurie was captured by the Communists and imprisoned in a Bugs Bunny cartoon.

Even if it was a dream sequence, I can't help but think the emotional impact of the scene was blunted by the fact that it's one of the more unintentionally hilarious moments in recent memory. First, we have the stock communist march playing in the background while the prisoners trudge their way to...well, who knows where the hell they're going. Then we get the vulture screech, which I can only imagine is the director's attempt at subtly telling the viewer that this camp is a hopeless place where people go to die. Either that, or he just thought a vulture would sound totally bitchin'.

Then there's the piece de resistance: Hugh Laurie declares his freedom with all of the flare and emotion of a high school student reading out of a Social Studies textbook. He sprints off, apparently leaving his fellow prisoner catatonic from his brazen act. He then takes a swan dive into a fence so powerful that it instantly vaporizes his skin and leaves only a perfectly white skeleton. Oh, and then cut to his skull perched on the fencepost.

I'm surprised that Cannes even bothered showing other movies at the festival in 1994. No way anything was going to top that.


  1. I've been reading your blog a long time. But I'm still not sure why you have a penal attraction to Hugh Laurie. That clip was horrible and half that clips on here make me wonder how he ever got casted for house.

  2. Thanks for the laugh! Assuming that clip wasn't edited, I got the impression that they suddenly realized the movie was too long and the order went out to wrap it up in 2 minutes--it seems like we're missing something. Like him getting arrested, etc.

    With respect to the technology of the fence--awesome, I want one. The burning question, which I suppose was left to allow for a sequel is how did the skull get on the fence post--did the Russians do it? The vulture? The skull shows how free it is by flying there?

    Are you sure this wasn't the high school entry for the Cannes festival? I'm still laughing after watching the zap scene about twenty times.

    BTW, not sure if you saw my electric fence tale: It's one of my first blog posts.

  3. Jason--penal attraction? I get off on Hugh Laurie in prison? And if you're trying to say penile attraction, you're still an ass.

    Tom--just read your electric fence tale. I remember grabbing on to an electric fence as a kid because it was fun. I'm going to guess that there wasn't quite as much power going through those lines as the ones that knocked you on your ass.

  4. Well, dearest this is coming from the guy who is going to throw a party once Dale Ernhardt Junior comes out. Seriously, how is he beating us so badly at scrabble?

  5. It's Dale EArnhardt Junior...