mikebarklage.com

A Rabbit Smoking a Pipe

June 16th, 2004 by barklage

Early in the David Mamet-authored The Edge, an Alaskan holds up an oar with a panther carved on one side and bets Anthony Hopkins’s character $5 he can’t guess what’s carved on the other. Hopkins replies, “A rabbit smoking a pipe.” Sure enough, it is. The explanation: it’s a traditional Cree parable. The panther hunts the rabbit, but the rabbit calmly smokes, unafraid. Why is he unafraid? “Because he’s smarter than the panther.”

I love that sentiment, and I’ve considered getting the depicted Cree artwork (or something similar) tattooed on my back. (I was born in the Year of the Rabbit, so there’s additional motivation.)

Here’s my question: is this a real Cree parable? Or is it something Mamet invented to foreshadow the film’s story? My Google searches have been fruitless, and if I’m going to get a tattoo, I want it to be real, not just something I saw in a movie once. (I’m a big fan of Mamet, but not that big.)

Can anyone help?

Posted in life | 29 Comments »

29 Responses

  1. valerie Says:

    Did you get the answer to your Question about the rabbit smoking the pipe…? I am interested also in the answer to that Question….!

  2. Mike Says:

    I never did, unfortunately.

  3. nolan Says:

    I was wondering if maybe you had that image of the rabbit on your computer that maybe you would email it to me.

  4. Mike Says:

    Sorry, I don’t have that. You’d have to do a screen grab from the “Edge” DVD to get it.

  5. A. N. Mouse, Esq. Says:

    To whom it may concern:

    I read your question and my research reveals the following about the theme of rabbit and panther.

    The movie the edge shows the paddle to have a rabbit smoking a pipe on one side and a black panther on the other.

    I have found in the book: The survival of “The Birch Bark Canoe” that a traditional motif of the Cree which was paintedon opposite sides of their birch bark canoes was a rabbit smokin a pipe on one side, and a lynx (cat) its’ natural enemy on the other side.

    The paddle in the movie (remember it was just movie, poetic liscense and all that)had a black panther, which I am pretty sure was not native to the area (Mountain lions or Puma perhaps)but the images chasen showed up well on camera. Aditionally, a relatively small number of people even know what a lynx is.

    Best wishes.

    A.N. Mouse Esq.

  6. Mike Says:

    Awesome. Thanks!

  7. Pelayo Says:

    This is an interesting fact. I was also wondering if that part of the movie was based in real life data. Nevertheless, if you look up the information about the figure of the trickster in several tales around the world, you will find as principal characters the Fox, the Coyote, the Monkey and the Hare (sometimes a Rabbit).
    The tales of brother rabbit are based in the african archetype of the trickster (a Hare), carried to North America by the slaves. But among many tribes in North America, this was also the trickster figure.
    Finally, if you are looking for an interesting tattoo, I suggest you to look up at the Three Hares Project (you can find it at Wikipedia). It is about a fascinating and puzzling transcultural symbol (three hares chasing each other in a circle; you can see three ears, but each hare has the normal pair), present from cathedrals in Devon, to the far east, China. It was probably carried through the Silk Road and it was adopted by christians, jews, muslims and buddhists.
    I hope that this can be useful.
    Regards

  8. Sandy Says:

    Have you had any luck with the search for your tatoo? I have a friend who is looking as well.

  9. C. Kelly Says:

    Hello: Any luck to date? I would very much like to have a canoe paddle like the one in the Edge.

  10. Chad Says:

    Just wanted to say I read Mamet’s screenplay for the movie. It is somewhat different than the movie and in it he refers to the Indians referenced by the panther/rabbit motif as being Ojibway indians. This is more in line with the birch bark canoe of the book mentioned previously. In Ontario and up in that area with the Voyaguers, to whom Mamet refers in his screenplay as well, the Indians are Algonquin and Ojibway. Knowing this hasn’t helped me find anything on a rabbit smoking a pipe, unafraid of a panther or other cat creature yet though.

  11. Andrew Mittman Says:

    Where did you find the screenplay?? I have been looking all over for it unsuccesfully.

    Thanks. you can email me at amittman@gmail.com if you have some advice as to finding it…thank you.

  12. Chad Says:

    Andrew,

    Sorry it took so long to respond to you. I didn’t go back and re-read the posts about the rabbit smoking a pipe on http://www.mikebarklage.com until this past week.

    Using information found in the forum of imdb.com on the movie, I found the script here:

    http://www.scriptcity.com/details.asp?SORT=E&offset=20&ID=1489

  13. Chad Says:

    I’m with Barklage, I want the tatoo as well. Although I am willing to get it simply because the movie meant so much to me, even if it were all made up, I think it is based upon fact, and I want to find where that is. I am planning on contacting Mamet himself to see if I can get some insight. I was able to personally talk with the knife maker of the the CM (Charles Morse) knife in the movie and the Locations Manager for the movie, so maybe I’ll be successful. I’ll report back anything useful I find.

  14. MikeMcCarthy Says:

    I have loved The Edge since I first saw it in the theater. I have also always thought it would be great to have the rabbit smoking a pipe tattoo. I thought I would be the only person until I stumbled upon this forum. Any luck finding images of the rabbit online? Im not sure if I really want a tattoo though, the design would be cool on a shirt or sticker maybe.

  15. Kathye Warfield Says:

    My husbands wants a picture of the rabbit smoking a pipe….or better yet, the canoe paddle with the picture. Where can I find one?
    Kathye

  16. Dan Sensintaffar Says:

    I have pictures of the oar from the movie.E-mail me at dsensintaffar@yahoo.com if anyone wants it.

  17. Don Says:

    I have a paddle just like the one used in the movie if anyone really wants one they can contact me at djames@azlandplanning.com
    I like the way it looks in the cabin and yes there were panthers in north america years ago.

  18. Don Says:

    I have them if you want one they are around 100.00 and generally 4-5 feet long. I make them when I find old oars that will work.
    Don

  19. June Hog Says:

    The “Confident Rabbit” is, apparently, a Cree story. In the Cree story, it’s a panther, not a lynx. The smoking rabbit appears as a logo for Mad River canoes.

  20. Bobby Says:

    Well I guess everything is on the web . . . I was on vacation in Colorado two weeks ago and noticed the smoking rabbit on a Mad River canoe I’d rented. I immediately recognized it because The Edge is my favorite movie and I seen it many times. At that moment, in what I thought was a moment of originality and inspiration, I thought, “That’d make a great tatoo. NOBODY would think of that!” Wrong! I still may get it. Did anyone else?

  21. MEK Says:

    I found a website discussing prehistoric canoes, there is a painting on one of the birch canoes they found had a rabbit smoking a pipe on the bow. Now the movie “EDGE” said it was the Cree Indian, but the prehistoric dig in Vermont said the canoe was from a Malecite war canoe decoration.. The Malecite Indian appears to be related (cousin or ancestors of the Cree Indian – Canadian)

  22. DJ Says:

    Well, i’m going to get this tattoo very soon too and i’m regretful that i just now found this little blog i wouldve helped you with your image search. “Mad River Canoes” use the rabbit smoking a pipe as their logo. They also use the legend of the rabbit on their with a more vivid description. http://www.madrivercanoe.com

  23. Canoe_junkie Says:

    I carved and painted a paddle based on the one shown in “The Edge”. Here’s a photo of it hanging in my cabin.
    http://www.geocities.com/pernicev/paddleincabin.jpg

  24. wonderer Says:

    he, I just stumbled upon a comic and started a little research. now I´m here and think you will like this comic
    http://media.tumblr.com/oPap2s9W54rapis6xvC4xWoC_500.jpg

  25. Chad Says:

    Technically, in the movie it was a paddle, not an oar. Paddles are used in canoes and oars in row boats.

  26. Chad Says:

    I saw the logo at Mad River canoes. I called the owners to ask them about the legend. The woman told me they got it from the book “Bark Canoes and Skin Boats of North America” by Adney and Chappelle, so I ordered the book as a reference. Relevant material on pages 83 and 87, which talks about the Malecite Indians. I’m not convinced this is the only source of this legend. What I really want to know is where Mamet got it. I’ve been trying to find out how to contact him but have not succeeded yet.
    -Chad
    chad_work2001@yahoo.com

  27. Branson Says:

    Wow, I really thought I was the only one who wanted this tattoo. I am partly cree and am also born in the year of the rabbit…small world.

  28. Victoria Says:

    I would like to buy a paddle similar to the one in The Edge. Don (djames@azlandplanning.com) posted that he had them last year but now that address seems to be invalid. If anyone has them or if Don reads this – please reply.

    Thanks,
    Victoria

  29. Dan sensintaffar Says:

    I have pictures of the oar from the movie.E-mail me at dsensintaffar@yahoo.com if anyone wants it.Just e-mail it