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Written by Timothy Sexton
The Crying Game is a movie that is driven by deception, disguise, deceit and, of course, revelation. This pervasive theme is consistently conveyed through imagery and the first example of that is hooding of Jody, the British soldier. Jody’s eyes are covered so that the identities of his kidnappers remain unknown, but the symbolic value is that it also obstructs for Fergus the truth about Jody. Because Jody was abducted using a woman—Jude—as bait to lure him, it is assumed he is heterosexual. He further goes to the length of disguising his true sexuality by conversing with Fergus about his “girlfriend” Dil.
The most obvious example of imagery used to convey the film’s thematic obsession with disguise and deception is, of course, the character of Dil. It is not the deception that is the most important element of the cross-dressing aspect of the film, but the revelation. That revelation is the movie’s most iconic moment, of course, but the shock is not in what Dil isn’t, but in what Dil is. What is really of consequence in this revelation of what lies beneath the disguise is that Dil—the only character who wears a disguise not for the purpose of deceit—is also the only character who finally reveal their true self.
Jude the Obscure
The significance of the imagery of that contrasts Jude in the first half of the film with how she appears when comes to bring Fergus back into the war is that it is impossible to know which is the disguise or, indeed, if either or neither is a disguise. Because the viewer is first introduced to Jude as a blonde wearing clothes remarkable only for their lack of style, it is natural to assume that this is her natural appearance and that the far more stylish woman with the short black bobbed hair is the one in disguise. The truth, of course, is that there is no way of knowing. Jude is the exact opposite of Dil. She never reveals her true identity. Her deceit is complete and total because she remains to the end a mysterious figure; an utter obscurity.
The imagery of deception and disguise is most complex in treatment of Fergus. Like Jude, he changes his looks by cutting off his hair when he arrives in England, but the effect is far less dramatic and striking. He also changes his name to Jimmy. What is significant about the imagery of Jimmy that is he looks and behaves exactly as Fergus did back in Ireland. Indeed, every time Fergus is on the screen, it is the image of a man who acts exactly the same no matter the circumstance: his personality undergoes no notable alteration whether he is holding a British soldier with a hood over his head hostage or whether he is in a gay bar. The primary message the imagery associated with Fergus presents that he is a man strangely oblivious to and disconnected from what is going on around him. He is the one who removes the hood from Jody in act that seems to suggest he does fully comprehend the potential consequences of such a decision. He is a man surrounded by cross-dressers and homosexuals yet does not seem to realize that many of the women around him are not women at all. Fergus is a complex character when it comes to deceit as his life is one that necessitates disguise and deception, but he almost seems to be actually incapable of guile.
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