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Postmodernis

A critical approach to Film


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Postmodernism
A critical approach to Film

What is
Postmodernism?
- An Oxymoron?
- An overused & meaningless term?
- A bunch of nonsense?
- A response (or, responses) to modernism.
Postmodernism
A critical approach to Film

What is
Modernism?
Modernism, in its broadest definition, is modern thought, character, or
practice.

Modernism explicitly rejects the ideology or realism, and makes use of the
works of the past, through the application of reprise, incorporation, rewriting,
recapitulation, revision and parody in new forms.

The term modernism encompasses the activities and output of those who felt
the traditional forms of art, architecture, literature, religious faith, social
organization and daily life were becoming outdated in the new economic,
social, and political conditions of an emerging fully industrialized world.
Postmodernism
A critical approach to Film

Postmodernism is
therefore
Postmodernism
A critical approach to Film

Postmodernism is
therefore
In Film
Postmodernist films upsets the mainstream
conventions of narrative structure and
characterisation and destroys the audiences
suspension of belief.
Features of postmodern
films
They dont pretend to wholly works, and often draw
attention to the fact they are in fact fictitious. For
instance, characters might stop and talk directly to the
audience.

They often re-arrange or disrupt strict linear narratives,


instead using circular narratives and open ended
closures.

They often involve characters that feel disconnected or


alienated from their environment and distrust authorities.
Genres of Postmodern
Pastiche: Self referential, tongue-in-cheek,
rehashes of classic pop culture.

Flattening of Affect: Technology, violence,


drugs, and the media lead to detached,
emotionless, unauthentic lives.

Hyper reality: Technologically created


realities are often more authentic or desirable
than the real world.
Genres of Postmodernism
Time Bending: Time travel provides another way
to shape reality and play what if games with
society.

Altered states: Drugs, mental illness and


technology provide a dark, often psychedelic,
gateways to new internal realities.

More Human than Human: Artificial intelligence,


robotics and cybernetics seek to enhance, or
replace, humanity.
Analysis of a flattening affect
Film
Fight Club a synopsis: A ticking-time-bomb
insomniac and a slippery soap salesman
channel primal male aggression into a
shocking new form of therapy. Their
concept catches on, with underground
"fight clubs" forming in every town, until an
eccentric gets in the way and ignites an
out-of-control spiral toward oblivion.
Fight club
Analysis
The main protagonists journey from a depressed insomniac to, to an
unhinged violent psychopath, Is according to the postmodernism theory,
the characterization of a protagonist who is disconnected from wider
society, this is a key feature of a postmodern film.

In Fight Club the movie uses a narrator through out the film who is one
of the main protagonist this is another postmodern concept. This type of
cinematography disrupts the linear sequence of the narrative and
instead creates a circular narrative in which parts of the film are cliff
hangers where the audience does not know whats happening next
mirroring the actions of the main protagonist. Broadcast media bulletins
are used to create suspense and tension. A dark color scheme
connotes to the audience that this film is going to be violent and scary.
This film is a classic example of the postmodernist theory.
Taking Postmodernism
further
Intertextuality
This is when one media text references another

Intertextuality mixes forms, genre, conventions, media; It dissolves


boundaries between high and low art, between the serious and the
comic.
Taking Postmodernism
further

How can Intertextuality be seen as part of


Postmodernism?
Postmodernism in
Society
What would it look like?
- The breakdown of the distinction between
culture & society
- An emphasis on style at the expense of
substance & content.
- The breakdown of a distinction between high
culture (art) and popular culture
- Confusion over time & space
- The decline of the meta-narrative or grand
narrative (i.e. the absolute universal and all
embracing claims to knowledge like science or
religion)
Postmodernism in
Society
The breakdown of the distinction
between culture & society
- Mass culture is now so influential it is no longer holding a
mirror up to society it IS society.

- The distinction between media and reality has collapsed

- So new art/media artifacts are influenced by ones previous to


it.

- Simulacrum a copy of a copy (of a copy)

- Intertextuality Using other texts in a new one


Postmodernism in
Society
Simulacru
A copy of a copy of a copy

There is no such thing as originality


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Bo
Diddley

Chuc
k
Outkast Mick Jagger Berry

The distinction between media &


reality has collapsed
Postmodernism in
Society
Simulacru
A copy of a copy of a copy
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Postmodernism in
Society
Mixing of Styles - Hybrid Genres
Postmodernism in
Society In MODERNITY there is PARODY,

Pastich which ridicules by exaggerating the


distance of the original text from
normal discourse.

e In POSTMODERNITY, there is
PASTICHE, a blank parody; theres
no sense of a distance from any
norm.

Blue Harvest
Postmodernism in
Society
Confusions over time and space

- Travel across the globe is swift, inexpensive and possible for


most people

- Most people have a fair knowledge of other cultures due to


news/documentaries\

- The internet has broken down space and time barriers

- 24hr cities
Postmodernism in
Society
Confusions over time and space
Postmodernism in
Society
An emphasis on style at the expense
of substance and contnet
- The visual and stylistic impact becomes more important than
the meaning/message

- Media texts which defy interpretation

- Retro/Nostalgia

- Shallow Empty?
Postmodernism in
Society
An emphasis on style at the expense
of substance and contnet
Postmodernism in
Society
The breakdown of a distinction
between high culture (art) and pop
culture
- Postmodernists High and low cultrue are =

- Against the elitism of high modernism

- Text which contain elements of high and low culture

- Treating low art or pop culture as if they were high art


pieces.
Postmodernism in
Society
The breakdown of a distinction
between high culture (art) and pop
culture
HIGH ART LOW ART

Fine art Advertising


Opera Pop Music
Ballet Genre Films
Classical Music Television
Classic Literature Trashy Novels
Art Cinema Music videos
Sculpture
Postmodernism in
Society
The breakdown of a distinction
between high culture (art) and pop
culture
Postmodernism in
Society
The decline of the meta-narrative

- A meta-narrative is a narrative or story which claims to


explain something totally ie christianity, marxism

- Because society is so fragmented, we live by individual,


hand picked beliefs rather than collective ones

- Post modern texts reflect this state of being by being


ambiguous in their meaning/message. They defy an
absolute truth.
Taking Postmodernism
further
The A Postmodern Case Study
Matrix
The Matrix is a 1999 science fiction-action
film written and directed by
Larry and Andy Wachowski
and starring Keanu Reeves, Laurence
Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe
Pantoliano, and Hugo Weaving.

It was first released in the USA on March 31,


1999, and is the first entry in The Matrix
series of films, comics, video games, and
animation.
Taking Postmodernism
further
A Postmodern Case Study
Box Office
Info
It earned $171 million in the U.S. and $460 million
worldwide, and later became the first DVD to sell more
than three million copies in the U.S.

The Ultimate Matrix Collection was released on HD


DVD on May 22, 2007 and on Blu-ray on October 14,
2008.

The movie is also scheduled to be released stand


alone in a 10th anniversary edition on Blu-ray in the
Digibook format on March 31, 2009, 10 years to the
day after the movie was released theatrically.
Taking Postmodernism
further
A Postmodern Case Study

In Postmodern thought, interpretations of The


Matrix often reference Baudrillard's philosophy
to demonstrate that the movie is an allegory for
contemporary experience in a heavily
commercialized, media-driven society,
especially of the developed countries. This
influence was brought to the public's attention
through the writings of art historians such as
Griselda Pollock and film theorists such as
Heinz-Peter Schwerfel.
Taking Postmodernism
further
A Postmodern Case Study

The Wachowski Brothers were keen that all


involved understood the thematic
background of the movie. For example,
the book used to conceal disks early in
the movie, Simulacra and Simulation, a
1981 work by the French philosopher
Jean Baudrillard, was required reading
for most of the principal cast and crew.
Taking Postmodernism
further
A Postmodern Case Study

The Matrix makes many connections to Simulacra and


Simulation. In an early scene, Simulacra and Simulation is
the book in which Neo hides his illicit software. In the film,
the chapter 'On Nihilism' is in the middle, rather than the
end of the book.

Morpheus also refers to the real world outside of the Matrix


as the "desert of the real", which was directly referenced in
the Slavoj iek work, Welcome to the Desert of the Real. In
the original script, Morpheus referenced Baudrillard's book
specifically.

Keanu Reeves was asked by the directors to read the book,


as well as Out of Control and Evolution Psychology, before
being cast as Neo.
Taking Postmodernism
further
A Postmodern Case Study
Merrin
Baudrillard and the Media (2005 p131)
The Matrix has us. Our consumption of the films, the
merchandise, and the world and myth the
Wachowskis sell us, and our collective orgasm
over the effects and phones, guns, shades and
leather, represent our integration into the virtuality
it promotes. The Matrix became a viral meme
spreading through and being mimetically
(mimicked i.e. copied) and absorbed into modern
culture, extending our virtualisation.
Taking Postmodernism
further
A Postmodern Case Study
Merrin cont.
Just as the film offered the stark choice of being
inside or outside the matrix so you were either
inside or outside the zeitgeist (the spirit of the
times). To paraphrase Morpheus: The Matrix is
everywhere. As Baudrillard makes clear, however,
its fans and public are caught in a similarly
invisible matrix that is far greater than depicted in
the film, and that the film itself is part of and
extends.
Taking Postmodernism
further
A Postmodern Case Study
Other Postmodern Influences
The film describes a future in which reality perceived by
humans is actually the Matrix: a simulated reality
created by sentient machines in order to pacify and
subdue the human population while their bodies' heat
and electrical activity are used as an energy source.
Upon learning this, computer programmer "Neo" is drawn
into a rebellion against the machines. The film contains
many references to the cyberpunk and hacker
subcultures; philosophical and religious ideas; and
homages to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Hong
Kong action cinema and Spaghetti Westerns.
Taking Postmodernism
further
A Postmodern Case Study
Challenging Film Making
Conventions
The film is known for popularizing the use of a visual effect known as "bullet
time", which allows the viewer to explore a moment progressing in slow-
motion as the camera appears to orbit around the scene at normal speed.

One proposed technique for creating these effects involved propelling a high
speed camera along a fixed track with a rocket to capture the action as it
occurred. However, this was discarded as unfeasible, because not only
was the destruction of the camera in the attempt all but inevitable, but the
camera would also be almost impossible to control at such speeds.
Instead, the method used was a technically expanded version of an old
art photography technique known as time-slice photography, in which a
large number of cameras are placed around an object and triggered
nearly simultaneously.
Taking Postmodernism
further
A Postmodern Case Study

The evolution of photogrametric and image-based


computer-generated background approaches in The
Matrix's bullet time shots set the stage for later
innovations unveiled in the sequels The Matrix
Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions. Virtual
Cinematography (CGI-rendered characters, locations,
and events) and the high-definition "Universal Capture"
process completely replaced the use of still camera
arrays, thus more closely realizing the "virtual camera".

This film overcame the release of Star Wars Episode I:


The Phantom Menace by winning the Academy Award
for Visual Effects
Taking Postmodernism
further

How is
Fight Club
postmodern
?
Taking Postmodernism
further
A Postmodern Case Study