Stranger Than Paradise Comparison to Kerouac

Topics: Beat Generation, Jack Kerouac, Neal Cassady Pages: 3 (864 words) Published: May 15, 2013
Napoleon Lenker

As the movie opens we are granted images of a familiar theme that to any fan of Kerouac will begin to constitute an understanding the connection that is granted to Jarmusch as “the last of the beats.” This opening scene is of a plane landed with a girl standing far off in front of the plane holding luggage. The theme that carries through much beat influenced work is travel and the open road. Throughout the film, the characters present their own momentary musings on the subjects of America(nism), life, and the modern experience. Many of the scenes provide what seems like an attempt at a free-flowing view of a “real” American experience from the perspective of the three main characters.

The movie starts with Eva boarding at the airport and beginning her journey into what the movie’s opening entitles as “The New World.” To me, this showed a relationship between Jarmusch and Kerouac in their choice of very prevalent side characters. Eva to me has similar traits to a saint-like character and although she doesn’t contain the personality of Dean Moriarty she has some key features of a saint. She came from Hungary and contains the innocence untainted by this “new world” as shown by her choice to walk through New York alone. She doesn’t understand many of the customs of Americans in accord to Willy’s belief of what Americans do. When watching Willy go through his activities, she makes brutally honest assessments of what she sees such as saying TV dinners don’t look like real food or that football is “stupid.” She even rejects the dress that Willy bought for her. Beyond that she always (as far as I recall) would say “yes” to new situations. She says “yes” to walking alone/going to Cleveland, “yes” to going anywhere Willy and Eddy are going, or even “yes” to accepting an envelope (ok so it was a silent yes that time) from a complete stranger regardless of why. Her presence of just being in a certain place propels the story forward...
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