Releasing the Pain: The Reality of Barfly

Barfly the movie released in 1987 by the French film Director Barbet Schroeder. Is Barfly a mere haunting being released from Mr. Bukowski? Perhaps one view that many fans have taken, aligns itself with the creative expression that all writers have. The struggle of the passion to compose a different reality than what one has experienced is never easy. Perhaps Barfly, unlike so many semi-autobiographical films is just a means to releasing the pain that Charles Bukowski faced as a child in the early 1920’s from his abusive father. Releasing the pain throughout the lifetime has been a prescription issued by psychiatrists throughout the world. I do not think that Barfly was just a short story, but a means to deal with the compound life of Mr. Bukowski at a glance.

The Alter Ego Henry Chinaski

Mickey Rourke took the role of Henry Chinaski but Sean Penn offered to play the part for as little as a dollar, but wanted Dennis Hopper to provide direction. Bukowski turned it down for Barbet Schroeder, who invested years and thousands of dollars into the project. The portrayal of the alter ego is not as important as the development of the character himself. Charles developed the reality based off his own current distresses in Los Angeles. The powerful forces of his childhood, along with the struggles of his failure in earlier work as a writer compounded him to take a sabbatical from the career. He would later describe this period of as a “ten year drunk,” which led him to work at the post office.

Releasing the Pain

Considering the abusive nature of his father and the introversion of his mother, he would turn to alcohol at an early age. Could the abuse and alcohol create such a monstrous life? Barfly reflects on his inner characteristics and addictions. Perhaps the struggles of urban living and the way to release the internal demons were only found in alcohol; sex and fighting are the means to cope with a life lived hard. It is not for me to judge on how a man lives or dies, but to highlight the need to draw out the pains and entrapments that others may face in their own lives. Charles Bukowski defined Henry Chinaski in every waking moment.

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