Boots and memory (Broken Flowers)

Broken Flowers scene showing Don asking two long haired country guys in a truck for directions
Don asks for directions to Penny’s house

While I was writing the previous post, in particular the part about the Misfits house in Rincon Valley, I found I really wanted to reference a scene from the Jim Jarmusch’s 2005 movie Broken Flowers. It would be the scene with “Penny.” There’s always a lot of empty space and things left unspoken or somehow hanging in the air in Jim Jarmusch movies, but this scene is particularly fraught in that way. There’s the implication of something very traumatic that happened to this woman Penny, that she associates with the character of Don Johnston, and it’s linked to the idea of having a son. (Penny is played by Tilda Swinson and Don by Bill Murray.)

Penny yells “Fuck you, Don!” and pushes him, and then he’s given a black eye by the bikers who she lives with, left unconscious in the back of his rental car out in a cornfield.

We used to have this movie on DVD, so I’ve seen it several times. After Chris got sick, I figured out how to get low cost internet, enabling us to use our Roku television to get streaming channels (Chris absolutely loved watching movies and it’s one of my regrets we didn’t figure this out months or even years earlier) and after he died I gave away the DVD player and his collection of DVDs.

One thing I thought I remembered from this scene in Broken Flowers were the boots that Penny was wearing. This is something I remember being focused on in 2014, and specifically, that she was wearing rubber galoshes type boots with eyes painted on them. I wanted to to include an image of those boots on the previous blog entry. Back in 2014 I remember finding images showing these galoshes online – but this time I couldn’t find any of those images. I was determined enough to get a photo of these boots that I rented the movie from Amazon streaming, and watched the scene, with my camera ready. And I got a surprise – you almost don’t see her boots at all in the scene. When I watched this movie tonight, the only time the boots are even visible is maybe for a second as Penny is pushing Don, and while you can see something painted on them, maybe a face? you don’t see the clear eye shape that I remember seeing before. What happened? Did I remember this scene wrong, or was is this a different edit of the film? And if it’s a different edit of the film as I suspect it is, isn’t it interesting that there are no stills from the older edit findable online via Google. I mean, they may still be online somewhere, but Google is excluding them, and yes, Google does this kind of thing all the time.

Was the film re-edited? If so, why? Was it because of the boots? I think it might be. What about those boots is so significant?

If I’m correct about the film having been re-edited, there’s also something ironic in the scene, as the dialogue just before the quick flash of the boots goes like this:

Don: You left me Penny, remember?

Penny: Very clearly.

Memory is really important with this, and I think this is widely known. With these biomedical implants, memories can be manipulated, even, it appears, bizarre as it sounds – very early memories stored offsite and returned later.

September 19 2022 update I just realized the boots with the eyes are in a later scene. I’ll either re-edit this post in the next day or two or write a new one or both.