Aesthetic and Thematic Definition of Independent Cinema

Topics: Independent film, Cinema of the United States, Classical Hollywood cinema Pages: 7 (2069 words) Published: May 5, 2013
Aesthetic and Thematic Definition of Independent Films

"The Official cinema of the world has run out of breath. It is morally corrupt, aesthetically obsolete, thematically superficial, and temperamentally boring." (Lionel R et al, 1960) As a result of this and a great number of other reasons, independent cinema was born. For the most people who have a basic knowledge of American cinema, “independent filmmaking consists of low budget projects made by (mostly) young filmmakers with a strong personal vision away from the influence and pressures of the few major conglomerates that control tightly the American film industry.” (Yannis, 2006:1) In a way, almost all independent cinemas can be seen as more or less rejecting Hollywood’s narrative conventions, sometimes in the pursuit of more styles and different themes. This essay focuses on three films to explore to what extent both the aesthetic and thematic definitions opposite to mainstream cinema.

I. Thematic Definition

Independent films develop thematically opposed to what mainstream cinema does. It explores diverse themes including black humor, freedom, rebellion, violence, erotic pleasure and suffering from thinking. While a great number of films were involved in the themes such as blacks, beats, politics and hippies, independent cinema “all carry a subversive message portrayed through subject or style, they cover an enormous range of aesthetic and social concerns.” (Gary, 2000)

Bonnie and Clyde

Bonnie and Clyde, well-known robbers in the depression time, had been depicted in different ways in diverse versions. However, Arthur Penn adopted a comedic style to tell this story with the satire aim to the traditional Hollywood gangster film.

Filmmakers pursued their own styles based on the original making system and worked out totally different styles through the revolution. Bonnie and Clyde seemed like a traditional gangster film, however, it broke the original model that contains the occurrence, time and again chase and the ending and created a new model. Two immoral characters replace moral ones in the traditional gangster movie as the leading characters. Instead of condemning them, Arthur Penn showed great sympathy to them through tediously long, gentle content of daily life, behavior details and their psychological status. He blamed their committing crime on society and family’s neglecting and hurting the youth. The classic ending scene distillates this tragedy and declaims the fact that it is the government, the court and the police murder the two. Clyde as a robber does not appear to kill the innocent and be cruel and vicious however repeatedly seems like impotence and weak. The image of Clyde means the incapability of society in the Great Depression. This film reflects the problems of society which has a satire aim to the traditional gangster film lack in reflection and criticism spirit.

As Mark Garrett Cooper states, American independent cinema is best defined in terms of style and this style may best be described as dysphoic which means a state of anxiety or restlessness specially constructed for the spectarory. The film reflects a tough period. Bonnie and Clyde love each other but they do not have sex, which strikes Bonnie in a great degree. However, she chooses to stay with Clyde owning to his love. The impotence of Clyde means the decline and flagging in the whole society. Bonnie’s require for sex means the normal mental and material demand. The contradiction between the two exactly is the main problem existing in society at that time. The instant they have a perfect sex, they are killed, which also means that life is a implacable contradiction.

Pulp Fiction

Under the plot hides a metaphor of religion, this is to great extent relevant with Marcellus’s suitcase. The suitcase is robbed by Vincent and Jules in the apartment. From the beginning to the end, we do not know what is in it, though it shines all the time. There will be a great...

Bibliography: David, C. (2005) The Dysphoric Style in Contemporary American Independent Cinema, the Florida State University College of Arts and Sciences.
Geoff, K. (2005) American Independent Cinema, London: I.B.Tauris.
Lionel, R. et al.(1960) New American Cinema Group Manifesto, New York.
Nathan, A., Ian, B. and Jan, U. (2001) Studying Film, London, Oxford University Press.
Yannis, T. (2006) American Independent Cinema: An Introduction, London, Edinburgh University Press.
Gary, M. (2001) American Independent Narrative Cinema of the 60s, [Internet], April, available from:<>
[accessed January 2001]
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