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(For reference, here is the scene)

Regarding the saxphone

It's possible but unlikely that Harry would overlook his saxophone or spare it from destruction if he truly suspected it was bugged. There are almost no places a bug can be placed on a brass instrument that would effectively record without being conspicuous or disruptive to how it sounds or is played, and he could dismantle most parts of it to check it without doing damage. Though it isn't shown, I assume he checked it.

Regarding theThere might not be a bug

Screenwriter and director Francis Ford Coppola candidly admits that he never decided whether there was a bug to begin with.

In his screenplay (available for download; pdf) (starting on page 155), Harry's search is described in detail, but makes no hint as to where the bug might actually be. It merely reads:

He has not found the tap, if one exists.

In the DVD commentary (available for streaming or download; mp3) (starting at 1:49:06), Coppola says:

"The other most asked question to me ... is where was the bug that bugged Harry at the end? Of course many people have their theories. One notion was that it was in the plastic Madonna that he had in his apartment but he thinks of that himself ... indeed it does not turn out to be there.

"... The other possibility ... and the theory that I always imagined might be the case, was that it was in the little saxophone strap, that little clasp in the saxophone that was hanging around his neck during all the time that he was there ... but that was never confirmed or disproved.

"... And then again of course there is always the possibility that there was no microphone, there was no bug, that the microphone really was more in Harry's degenerated state, in his personal madness brought on by this story and what had happened.

"I know it's very difficult for you to accept from me, but the truth of the matter is I don't know where the microphone bug is."

Difficult to accept indeed!

How finding a bug would change the scene

40 years later The Conversation remains a spectacularly relevant character study and is prescient in its depiction of the slow burning psychological strain of life under surveillance. Its final scene is iconic, and its strength is its ambiguity.

To me, the point isn't whether Harry finds what he thinks he wants to find, but his psychological desperation in searching. That there might be a bug is the straw that breaks the camel's back. We witness a composed man finally give in to deep rooted frustration and paranoia. By the time he resorts to tearing up the floors it's a moot point whether the bug is still in the apartment. Finding it will not assuage his guilt or lessen his complicity in the acts that led up to this; his violated sanctuary is no less violated; discovery is not resolution, only confirmation, the redundant inconsequential kind obsessively pursued by the powerless. Harry is profoundly psychologically burdened, and it culminates in him destroying his home.

In this sense, I think not finding the bug is far from a plot inconsistency. Finding it would weaken the scene. Harry literally and symbolically "comes up empty" which amplifies everything else and ends on a poignant character note. If the bug exists, so be it, but if he finds it, the ambiguity is removed, Harry is vindicated at least in that moment, and the significance of his desperation is diminished.

(For reference, here is the scene)

Regarding the saxphone

It's possible but unlikely that Harry would overlook his saxophone or spare it from destruction if he truly suspected it was bugged. There are almost no places a bug can be placed on a brass instrument that would effectively record without being conspicuous or disruptive to how it sounds or is played, and he could dismantle most parts of it to check it without doing damage. Though it isn't shown, I assume he checked it.

Regarding the bug

Screenwriter and director Francis Ford Coppola candidly admits that he never decided whether there was a bug to begin with.

In his screenplay (available for download; pdf) (starting on page 155), Harry's search is described in detail, but makes no hint as to where the bug might actually be. It merely reads:

He has not found the tap, if one exists.

In the DVD commentary (available for streaming or download; mp3) (starting at 1:49:06), Coppola says:

"The other most asked question to me ... is where was the bug that bugged Harry at the end? Of course many people have their theories. One notion was that it was in the plastic Madonna that he had in his apartment but he thinks of that himself ... indeed it does not turn out to be there.

"... The other possibility ... and the theory that I always imagined might be the case, was that it was in the little saxophone strap, that little clasp in the saxophone that was hanging around his neck during all the time that he was there ... but that was never confirmed or disproved.

"... And then again of course there is always the possibility that there was no microphone, there was no bug, that the microphone really was more in Harry's degenerated state, in his personal madness brought on by this story and what had happened.

"I know it's very difficult for you to accept from me, but the truth of the matter is I don't know where the microphone bug is."

Difficult to accept indeed!

How finding a bug would change the scene

40 years later The Conversation remains a spectacularly relevant character study and is prescient in its depiction of the slow burning psychological strain of life under surveillance. Its final scene is iconic, and its strength is its ambiguity.

To me, the point isn't whether Harry finds what he thinks he wants to find, but his psychological desperation in searching. That there might be a bug is the straw that breaks the camel's back. We witness a composed man finally give in to deep rooted frustration and paranoia. By the time he resorts to tearing up the floors it's a moot point whether the bug is still in the apartment. Finding it will not assuage his guilt or lessen his complicity in the acts that led up to this; his violated sanctuary is no less violated; discovery is not resolution, only confirmation, the redundant inconsequential kind obsessively pursued by the powerless. Harry is profoundly psychologically burdened, and it culminates in him destroying his home.

In this sense, I think not finding the bug is far from a plot inconsistency. Finding it would weaken the scene. Harry literally and symbolically "comes up empty" which amplifies everything else and ends on a poignant character note. If the bug exists, so be it, but if he finds it, the ambiguity is removed, Harry is vindicated at least in that moment, and the significance of his desperation is diminished.

(For reference, here is the scene)

There might not be a bug

Screenwriter and director Francis Ford Coppola candidly admits that he never decided whether there was a bug to begin with.

In his screenplay (available for download; pdf) (starting on page 155), Harry's search is described in detail, but makes no hint as to where the bug might actually be. It merely reads:

He has not found the tap, if one exists.

In the DVD commentary (available for streaming or download; mp3) (starting at 1:49:06), Coppola says:

"The other most asked question to me ... is where was the bug that bugged Harry at the end? Of course many people have their theories. One notion was that it was in the plastic Madonna that he had in his apartment but he thinks of that himself ... indeed it does not turn out to be there.

"... The other possibility ... and the theory that I always imagined might be the case, was that it was in the little saxophone strap, that little clasp in the saxophone that was hanging around his neck during all the time that he was there ... but that was never confirmed or disproved.

"... And then again of course there is always the possibility that there was no microphone, there was no bug, that the microphone really was more in Harry's degenerated state, in his personal madness brought on by this story and what had happened.

"I know it's very difficult for you to accept from me, but the truth of the matter is I don't know where the microphone bug is."

Difficult to accept indeed!

How finding a bug would change the scene

40 years later The Conversation remains a spectacularly relevant character study and is prescient in its depiction of the slow burning psychological strain of life under surveillance. Its final scene is iconic, and its strength is its ambiguity.

To me, the point isn't whether Harry finds what he thinks he wants to find, but his psychological desperation in searching. That there might be a bug is the straw that breaks the camel's back. We witness a composed man finally give in to deep rooted frustration and paranoia. By the time he resorts to tearing up the floors it's a moot point whether the bug is still in the apartment. Finding it will not assuage his guilt or lessen his complicity in the acts that led up to this; his violated sanctuary is no less violated; discovery is not resolution, only confirmation, the redundant inconsequential kind obsessively pursued by the powerless. Harry is profoundly psychologically burdened, and it culminates in him destroying his home.

In this sense, I think not finding the bug is far from a plot inconsistency. Finding it would weaken the scene. Harry literally and symbolically "comes up empty" which amplifies everything else and ends on a poignant character note. If the bug exists, so be it, but if he finds it, the ambiguity is removed, Harry is vindicated at least in that moment, and the significance of his desperation is diminished.

8 added 156 characters in body
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To me, the point isn't whether Harry finds what he thinks he wants to find, but his psychological desperation in searching. That there might be a bug is the straw that breaks the camel's back. We witness a composed man surrenderfinally give in to deep rooted frustration and paranoia. By the time he resorts to tearing up the floors it's a moot point whether there athe bug existsis still in the apartment. Finding it will not assuage his guilt or lessen his complicity in the acts that led up to the breakdown;this; his violated sanctuary is no less exposed;violated; discovery is not resolution, only confirmation, which is until discovery the often pitiful obsession ofredundant inconsequential kind obsessively pursued by the powerless. Harry is profoundly psychologically affectedburdened, and we see thatit culminates in how he destroyshim destroying his home.

In this sense, I think not finding the bug is notfar from a plot inconsistency. In fact, finding oneFinding it would weaken the scene. Harry literally and symbolically "comes up empty" which amplifies everything else and ends on a poignant thematiccharacter note. If athe bug is foundexists, so be it, but if thathe finds it, the ambiguity is removed, Harry is vindicated at least in that moment, which diminishesand the significance of his desperation is diminished.

To me, the point isn't whether Harry finds what he thinks he wants to find, but his psychological desperation in searching. That there might be a bug is the straw that breaks the camel's back. We witness a composed man surrender to frustration and paranoia. By the time he resorts to tearing up the floors it's a moot point whether there a bug exists. Finding it will not assuage his guilt or lessen his complicity in the acts that led to the breakdown; his violated sanctuary is no less exposed; discovery is not resolution, only confirmation, which is until discovery the often pitiful obsession of the powerless. Harry is profoundly psychologically affected, and we see that in how he destroys his home.

In this sense, I think not finding the bug is not a plot inconsistency. In fact, finding one would weaken the scene. Harry literally and symbolically "comes up empty" which amplifies everything and ends on a poignant thematic note. If a bug is found, if that ambiguity is removed, Harry is vindicated at least in that moment, which diminishes the significance of his desperation.

To me, the point isn't whether Harry finds what he thinks he wants to find, but his psychological desperation in searching. That there might be a bug is the straw that breaks the camel's back. We witness a composed man finally give in to deep rooted frustration and paranoia. By the time he resorts to tearing up the floors it's a moot point whether the bug is still in the apartment. Finding it will not assuage his guilt or lessen his complicity in the acts that led up to this; his violated sanctuary is no less violated; discovery is not resolution, only confirmation, the redundant inconsequential kind obsessively pursued by the powerless. Harry is profoundly psychologically burdened, and it culminates in him destroying his home.

In this sense, I think not finding the bug is far from a plot inconsistency. Finding it would weaken the scene. Harry literally and symbolically "comes up empty" which amplifies everything else and ends on a poignant character note. If the bug exists, so be it, but if he finds it, the ambiguity is removed, Harry is vindicated at least in that moment, and the significance of his desperation is diminished.

7 added 156 characters in body
source | link

40 years later The Conversation remains a spectacularly relevant character study and is prescient in its depiction of the slow burning psychological strain of life under surveillance. Its final scene is iconic, and its strength is its ambiguity.

To me, the point isn't whether Harry finds what he thinks he wants to find, but his psychological brokennessdesperation in searching. The searchThat there might be a bug is the action of the scene, a triggerstraw that reveals to us,breaks the audience, his state of mindcamel's back. We witness a composed man finally surrender to desperation, frustration and paranoia. One gets the sense that even if Harry were to find the bug, byBy the time he resorts to tearing up the floors it's a moot point whether there a bug exists. Finding it will not assuage his guilt or lessen his complicity in the acts that led to thisthe breakdown; it does not make his violated sanctuary anyis no less exposed; it offers nodiscovery is not resolution, only confirmation, which is until discovery the compromisedoften pitiful obsession of the powerless. Harry has beenis profoundly psychologically affected, and we see that in how he destroys his home.

In this sense, I think not finding the bug is not a plot inconsistency. In fact, finding one would compromise the strength ofweaken the scene. Harry literally and symbolically "comes up empty" which amplifies the futility of his situationeverything and ends on a poignant thematic note. If a bug existsis found, if that ambiguity is lostremoved, the futility may remain but it vindicates Harry's obsession and justifies the breakdown. That significantly changes the drama of the scene

40 years later The Conversation remains a spectacularly relevant character study andHarry is prescientvindicated at least in its depiction ofthat moment, which diminishes the slow burning psychological strainsignificance of life under surveillancehis desperation.

To me, the point isn't whether Harry finds what he thinks he wants to find, but his psychological brokenness in searching. The search is the action of the scene, a trigger that reveals to us, the audience, his state of mind. We witness a composed man finally surrender to desperation, frustration and paranoia. One gets the sense that even if Harry were to find the bug, by the time he resorts to tearing up the floors it's a moot point. Finding it will not assuage his guilt or lessen his complicity in the acts that led to this breakdown; it does not make his violated sanctuary any less exposed; it offers no resolution, only confirmation, which is the compromised obsession of the powerless. Harry has been profoundly psychologically affected, and we see that in how he destroys his home.

In this sense, I think not finding the bug is not a plot inconsistency. In fact, finding one would compromise the strength of the scene. Harry literally and symbolically "comes up empty" which amplifies the futility of his situation. If a bug exists, if that ambiguity is lost, the futility may remain but it vindicates Harry's obsession and justifies the breakdown. That significantly changes the drama of the scene

40 years later The Conversation remains a spectacularly relevant character study and is prescient in its depiction of the slow burning psychological strain of life under surveillance.

40 years later The Conversation remains a spectacularly relevant character study and is prescient in its depiction of the slow burning psychological strain of life under surveillance. Its final scene is iconic, and its strength is its ambiguity.

To me, the point isn't whether Harry finds what he thinks he wants to find, but his psychological desperation in searching. That there might be a bug is the straw that breaks the camel's back. We witness a composed man surrender to frustration and paranoia. By the time he resorts to tearing up the floors it's a moot point whether there a bug exists. Finding it will not assuage his guilt or lessen his complicity in the acts that led to the breakdown; his violated sanctuary is no less exposed; discovery is not resolution, only confirmation, which is until discovery the often pitiful obsession of the powerless. Harry is profoundly psychologically affected, and we see that in how he destroys his home.

In this sense, I think not finding the bug is not a plot inconsistency. In fact, finding one would weaken the scene. Harry literally and symbolically "comes up empty" which amplifies everything and ends on a poignant thematic note. If a bug is found, if that ambiguity is removed, Harry is vindicated at least in that moment, which diminishes the significance of his desperation.

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