American Splendor Essay

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American Splendor tells the story of a middle-aged man named Harvey Pekar who became a comic book writer. It tells of his journey becoming a writer, his love life, battle with cancer, and all the other things along the way. . The film starts off at the time when a depressed Harvey worked as a file clerk and not really knowing what he was doing with his life. One day at a garage sale he meets an artist named Robert Crumb who suggests they should join forces and make a comic book. This gives Harvey something to do to make his life worth something. He ends up meeting his biggest fan (Joyce) and they end up falling in love. Soon after that he develops cancer. He eventually battles through it and in the end Harvey and Joyce adopt his friend's child. This film is definitely not a traditional Hollywood narrative. What stands out the most to me is its Reflexivity. This is easily seen right from the beginning and throughout the whole film. The film uses techniques such as shifting modalities and Mise-en-abyme to bring out its reflexive qualities. When watching a non-reflexive film, people are taken into the movie. They forget they are actually watching a film. But when watching a reflexive film one is being called to attention that they are actually watching a film. This movie shifts modalities more than any movie I've seen. The film starts off on a porch with a few kids trick or treating for Halloween. Three of the boys are dressed up as super heroes and one boy is not wearing a costume. We find out that boy is Harvey Pekar. The movie then flashes forward to a time when Harvey is older, around in his forties. Here is where the narration begins. It is also where the movie first shifts modality. It achieves this because there was no narrator in the opening scene and we feel as though Harvey Pekar is actually talking to us. We start to get a sense of the movie and get to know about Harvey Pekar's life. We are made to believe we are going to be watching a narrative on this...
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