Where’s Colin?

15 Apr

To the Creators of In Bruges:

I had been expecting something different.  Inspired by your film, I anxiously awaited my day trip to the small town, excited to wander the streets like Colin, gamble with a midget, question my life’s worth, and most importantly, run up to the top of the bell tower.  I entered Bruges expecting a small, quiet village, but was alarmed to find thousands of other tourists cluttering up the alleyways and open squares.  “How did you rid Bruges of all these parasites?”, I wondered.  But I had no time for questions.  This initial impression could not deter me from my mission.  I found the tower.  I paid my discounted 4-euro entrance fee (I unfortunately did not have the luxury of Ralph Fiennes kicking the shit out of the guard – who was actually a very pleasant woman – and ensuring comp’d entry), and began my ascent.  I emulated the movie as best I could, even struggling up the steep winding staircase with a hurt knee.  I admit, a bum knee is no shot in the neck, but it added a sense of pain and hardship that I imagine Ken endured as he hobbled his way to the top.  I pushed on through the throngs of tourists, blocking them out as best I could.  I tried to get my friend to chase me to no avail.  I clung close to the plot, refusing to be defeated by reality.

Steps leading up to the top of the tower

Then I reached the top.  That’s a lie.  I reached the top of the stairs.  Which is not the top of the tower.  As the stairs evened out into a steady floor, I nudged my way through the other visitors to what I was sure was to be the sight of the fall.  I had my pocket change ready, prepared to drop it into the fog.  But there was no fog.  And in order to drop the change, I would have had to force my hand through the wire fence surrounding the tower (this in particular made the view impossible to properly capture on film, let alone to attempt a flying suicide).  And had I successfully jammed my clenched fist through the wire, I surely would have hit someone on the head with my change.  My heart dropped.  My smile faded into a frown.  For someone who lived in Los Angeles and worked in the entertainment industry, I was strangely disillusioned by Bruges’ inability to uphold the film’s fantasy world.  I snapped a few photos, then took my busted knee and my change and limped back to the bottom of the tower the old-fashioned way, via stairs.

View from the top of the tower

I should have been more upset.  My dreams had been shattered, after all.  I should have whined and complained, asked for my 4 euro back.  I should have sulked and moped.  I should have written an angry letter to the makers of the film (uh…).  But I didn’t (for the most part).  For all that your film fudged, it really did tell the truth.  OK, OK, so you can’t jump off the tower to your glorious and thrilling death.  And so a bullet wound is probably a more tolerable obstacle for climbing the stairs than are the hoards of tourists.  And so there are no midgets in sight, only small children.  But I can’t complain.  Because for what the real Bruges lacked in Hollywood tint, it made up for in old-world charm.  Ralph was right:  Bruges really is a fucking fairytale.

Yours Sincerely,


**** To those who haven’t yet seen In Bruges and were planning on it…woops.  Sorry about spoiling the ending.  I probably should have written “spoiler alert” at the top of this post, but I’m selfish and wanted you to read it.  The movie came out 2 years ago and you had ample time to see it, anyway.  So deal with it.

The Tower


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