Saturday, April 20, 2013
GRIND-FU INTERWEBS: THE ORIGIN OF DIRK DIGGLER
By Shyboy Tim
It's hard for me to pick a favorite Paul Thomas Anderson film, but the sentimental favorite will always be Boogie Nights. The look, the rhythm, the performances, the music... everything about it clicks. I love how it shows that you can find family anywhere, even in the most unconventional environments.
Mark Wahlberg became a major film star with his performance as Dirk Diggler in Boogie Nights. The story of Dirk is loosely based on the life on John Holmes, one of the first major adult film stars. Holmes' god given talents made him LITERALLY the biggest star in porn, but this success led to delusion, poverty, crime, and his unfortunate death from AIDS in 1988. Naturally, this story needed to be told, and Paul Thomas Anderson was the one to tell it. In fact, he started telling it much earlier than Boogie Nights.
Paul Thomas Anderson was 18 years old when he shot his first real film, entitled The Dirk Diggler Story. If you've seen Boogie Nights you're already familiar with the story. It chronicles the life of Dirk through porn and his descent into addiction and death. It's a pretty sophisticated production for a high school kid, though that should come as no surprise.
While Boogie Nights was an expansion of The Dirk Diggler Story, you can find the origins for The Dirk Diggler Story in Exhausted, John C. Holmes: The Real Story. Exhausted is an actual documentary that follows and glorifies the mythology of John Holmes. Shots and dialogue from Exhausted are actually used verbatim in Boogie Nights to show Dirk Diggler's growing ego and addiction.
The Criterion Collection put out a laserdisc of Boogie Nights in 1997. Most of the special features from it are included on the current DVD release of the film, but there is one major omission. The laserdisc originally featured an edited version of Exhausted. One cool thing about this is that you could watch it with running commentary by Paul Thomas Anderson, who talks about how the documentary influenced Boogie Nights, as well as why he loves Exhausted so much. It's pretty entertaining, and it's currently on YouTube.