Michelle's blog

November 3rd, 2010

The Panic in Needle Park

Posted by michellemartins in Uncategorized

Review written by Geraldine Baum from the Los Angeles Times

Title: Needle Park? It’s been pushed ino the shadows

“The Panic in Needle Park” seems to be hidden from viewers, “Out of circulation and almost never shown on television because of its uncompromising portrayal of heroin use”, this makes it very difficult to get a hand on this film. Geraldine Baum after searching was finally able to get a copy of this film so that she could revisit it.

This movie is can be seen as the story of a couple, Helen and Bobby. As Baum says, “Director Jerry Schatzberg offers a documentary-style look at a druggie couple and the lowlifes sharing a bench with them on Broadway”. Although this movie is telling the story of this couple, it more importantly is portraying New York City in a way that it has never been seen before. This film made New York seem as if it were a nightmare to live in and as if it were a “madhouse”. The way the area was portrayed in the film made the are “unrecognizable”, “Except for the angle of Broadway and a few fairy-tale turrets on old limestone buildings”.

If Schatzberg’s sole purpose for this film were to tell the story of two druggies then he could have chosen any location for this film. The fact that this was filmed in New York City is very important. Baum states that “Schatzberg had told me he made “Panic” three decades ago because he wanted to show the addicts to people who walked right by them without noticing.”

Baum also makes us think about how we no longer see these “Bobbys and Helens”, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t still exist. As we watch this film now we think we think about how strange it is that this could have taken place in such an area. We think that now there are no more of these situations taking place, but as Baum states “Before we didn’t see what was in front of our eyes because we chose not to. Now we don’t see them because we’ve chosen to move them out of sight”.

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8 Responses to ' The Panic in Needle Park '

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  1.    David Rand said,

    on November 4th, 2010 at 12:04 am

    I disagree with Baum’s statement, in reference to druggies in New York City, that the only reason “now we don’t see them [is] because we’ve chosen to move them out of sight.” While there obviously are still many druggies in New York today, the streets of the city have been drastically cleaned up. As my dad tells me all the time, when he was growing up in the 60’s and 70’s, the city was a much different place. Entire neighborhoods that are now family-friendly, were dangerous drug-infested areas that you would never dare go to. It is certainly true that today’s New York is much less “druggy” that than in 1971 when the film was made.

  2.    adavison said,

    on November 4th, 2010 at 9:13 pm

    You raise an important question. Certainly the streets have been cleaned up, especially the gentrified UWS, LES, Harlem, etc. But if there”obviously are still many druggies in New York today,” where are they? Do we care?

  3.    susanshan said,

    on November 28th, 2010 at 9:16 pm

    I like that the portrayal of New York in this movie is not so grand and extravagant like it is usually portrayed. I think it might be true to some degree that we chose not to see what don’t want to see or know about. We tend to avoid places, things or events that take us out of our comfort zone and pushes us into the Labyrinth.

  4.    Troy Augustine said,

    on April 8th, 2013 at 7:53 pm

    Excellent post. I will be experiencing some of these issues as well..

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    on June 21st, 2013 at 7:10 am

    You are so cool! I don’t think I have read through a single thing like that before. So nice to discover another person with some original thoughts on this subject. Really.. thank you for starting this up. This site is one thing that is needed on the internet, someone with a little originality!

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