Analyse how one film demonstrates features which can be considered as post-modern. Discuss with reference to concepts such as: pastiche, irony, fragmentation and parody.
Film within the post-modern genre simply illustrates the ideas of postmodernism through expressive art. Postmodern can be defined as a “genre of art and literature… in reaction against principles and practices of established modernism” In this essay I will be outlining the key concepts as well as characteristics that can be found in a post modern film. Postmodern cinema contradicts the typical principle of narrative structure and the portrayal of the characters.
One film I believe illustrates these ideologies is Quentin Tarantino’s film Pulp Fiction. Released when postmodern films were at its peek. Pulp Fiction has to be one of cinemas most iconic films of all time. Due to the uncertainty of the characters and the stylised yet ambiguous nature of the plot, Pulp fiction is not only to be branded intriguing but also a great example of postmodern.
Work by theorists such as Fredric Jameson, will be looked at to help with the analysis of the chosen film. By doing so this helps prove that key concepts which are present within the film such as pastiche, irony, fragmentation and parody are perceptions that together make up a postmodern film proving that pulp fiction is a good illustration.
The use of pastiche is present throughout the film. Pastiche allows the emergence of differing techniques to form together in order to create a new structure. Replications of renowned film makers work has been used in order for an updated equally creative film to be produced. Anything from words, phrases, visual, and musical patterns can be used, by doing so it demonstrates that postmodern film is a combination of a variety of texts, styles and skills. Many theorists have spoken openly about their disproval of pastiche. Theorist Fredric Jameson for example even goes as far as to refer to pastiche as a “dead language”. In the book Postmodern Culture Fredric Jameson writes about the decline of new art, he writes “in a world in which stylistic innovation is no longer possible, all that is left is to imitate dead styles” (Jameson,1995 ) Even though “plagiarism of older plots”(Jameson, 1995) occurs in some films it can be argued that by this technique being used it allows an ingenious reinvention of a classic, to be made. One of the first indications of pastiche in Pulp Fiction takes place in the third scene where Vincent (John Travolta) and Jules (Samuel L. Jackson) enter the house. When Vincent is directed to the place where the brief case is, and opens it he is to be met by a bright glow, the scenes shows similar replication to a 1950s film in the film noir genre; called kiss me deadly. Where in both films the characters gaze adoringly in to the case, in Pulp Fiction the question of what it could possibly be is asked, considering the 666 (the mark of the anti-Christ) had to be entered into the case in order for it to be opened. Referencing to the 1950s is evident in the film, Marcellous’s wife Mia is associated with the 1950s quite a lot. The dialogue between Vincent and Mia is reminiscent to what would be said in a 1950s film. This idea is highlighted again when she chooses to go to a 1950s themed restaurant. The language and the setting break’s away from the usual formatting of the film which up until now consisted of violence. Mia being so much associated with the 1950s is rather ironic as you automatically associate the 1950s and women to be calm and innocent. We soon find this not to be the case as she is soon after shown taking drugs in the bathroom. Another example of pastiche within the film would be when Marcellous got raped. After his traumatic experience he tells Butch that he’s going to get his men to work on Zed with a “pair of pliers and a blow torch”. A line that was famously taken from the film Charley Varrick. The use of parody is another...
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