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An examination of the film stranger than paradise

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Please feel free to leave a comment. Jim Jarmusch 's second movie Stranger Than Paradise 1984 is often seen as a " deadpan comedy " or " wry humor " mainly because all the characters do not talk much.

  • Instead, Jarmusch inserts the silence before and after the characters'short conversation quite often in order to reveal the boring and uncomfortable situations that they have to bear;
  • The scenes under consideration run from minute 23;
  • Also, their conversations are often one-way.

Even if they talk, they often fail to communicate with each other. On the other hand, the movie is also considered as " Downtown Cool " or " streetwise naturalism.

Overall the film clearly creates the "deadpan" atmosphere and shows the isolated situation of each character by breaking one of the conventional rules of general movies. Stranger Than Paradise intends to create a boring atmosphere by showing communication failures between the characters. The film does not have any twisted story-line or exciting events. It consists of three acts.

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She spends ten days there with them. In the last act "Paradise," three of them go to Florida for a vacation. The only big event happens at the end of the film when Eva happens to receive a huge amount of money by accident. Except for that event, Jarmusch mainly describes their awkward interactions with each other.

He focuses more on their communication failures. For example, Willie refuses to speak or listen to Hungarian that his aunt Lotte and Eva speak. Willie fails to tell a joke to Eva because he totally forgets the punch line.

Jarmusch also shows the fact that there is not much to talk about when the characters meet each other.

  • The audience is forced to stop following the story-line each time and is given the break to appreciate the meaning of the event that they just saw or think other things;
  • On the other hand, the movie is also considered as " Downtown Cool " or " streetwise naturalism;
  • Even the relatively mainstream Broken Flowers 2005 , with its supremely subtle use of Hollywood stars, includes a great many scenes only Jarmusch could have come up with; one thinks especially of the protagonist visiting the grave of a dead girlfriend, which features a depiction of grief so delicate, even Fordian, that it takes one by surprise in a film so rich in comedy;
  • Unlike the popular images that each city has, the locations where Willie and Eddie go including New York, Cleveland, and Florida are depicted only with the desolated images;
  • This peculiar 'vibe' sensed by the audience when watching the film is further exaggerated by the cinematography of the film.

Willie does not ask Eva anything about her first trip to New York or her home country Hungary when they first meet.

Willie and Eddie have nothing to talk with aunt Lotte when they visit her house in Cleveland. Instead, Jarmusch inserts the silence before and after the characters'short conversation quite often in order to reveal the boring and uncomfortable situations that they have to bear.

Stranger Than Paradise

To fill the emptiness of being together in the same place, they often smoke cigarettes and drink beer. Also, their conversations are often one-way. Aunt Lotte speaks Hungarian to everybody even if nobody is listening to her. A drug dealer approaches to Eva and complains to her without confirming her identity. All these malfunctions of the communication leave the impression to the audience that each character is isolated even though he or she would like to communicate to each other.

Jarmusch also uses cinematography to amplify the character's isolated standings. Unlike the popular images that each city has, the locations where Willie and Eddie go including New York, Cleveland, and Florida are depicted only with the desolated images.

Abandoned cars and ruined buildings are shown in New York. Whole the city is covered with snow in Cleveland, and only the deserted motel and beach with no other people is shown in Florida.

  1. This is, for example, evident in the scene where Eva is standing outside on the street corner.
  2. Stranger Than Paradise intends to create a boring atmosphere by showing communication failures between the characters. Eva's departure in the scenes functions as sort of a catalyst where Eva is the person who sets the ball rolling and sets the course for the rest of the film where Eddie and Willie end up driving to Cleveland a year later as part of the second act.
  3. In addition, the locations of the scenes is yet another fact under consideration when analysing this segment of the film.
  4. This is followed by yet another black screen before the camera goes indoors again for a lengthy shot of Eddie and Willie drinking a beer in Willie's house where the first act of the film is concluded. I generally relate the term film form to represent the 'aura' of the film, in other words, the overall experience of the film as an artwork by the viewer.

The film's black-and-white images make the scenes more devastated. Usually in a film, a close-up shot with the character's facial expression is used to show the character's intention or feeling more directly to the audience so that they are more likely to overlap themselves with the character subjectively. In this film, Jarmusch doesn't use a close-up shot at all.

Instead, he employs many middle and long shots, which often include several characters in the same frame and leave the impression to the audience that they objectively observe the interaction between the characters from a distant point.

Few-second blackouts are also inserted between the scenes. They play quite an important role here. They interrupt the sequence of story each time the scene changes.

  1. Aunt Lotte speaks Hungarian to everybody even if nobody is listening to her. On the other hand, the movie is also considered as " Downtown Cool " or " streetwise naturalism.
  2. The film does not have any twisted story-line or exciting events. Usually in a film, a close-up shot with the character's facial expression is used to show the character's intention or feeling more directly to the audience so that they are more likely to overlap themselves with the character subjectively.
  3. Instead, Jarmusch inserts the silence before and after the characters'short conversation quite often in order to reveal the boring and uncomfortable situations that they have to bear.

The audience is forced to stop following the story-line each time and is given the break to appreciate the meaning of the event that they just saw or think other things. The blackouts prevent the audience from getting into the movie's world. These techniques are used quite efficiently in this film to produce the weary and deadpan atmosphere. The other point that looks the characters more isolated in the film is that they cannot feel that they are supposed to be together to achieve something as a goal in the movie, which is often the case seen in other movies.

Willie and Eddie say to each other that they do not know what to do and where to go. Even if they go to other locations hoping for changing their current boring situation, they still feel the same there. After they arrive in Cleveland, Eddie says to Willie, "You know, it's kind of funny. You're some place new, and everything looks just the same. From that point, the audience wanders with them without any possible goals of the movie.

Stranger Than Paradise changed one of the premises of movies that the characters surely communicate with each other and the story follows a certain story archetype in a genre which have a typical ending or goal predictable for the audience. The film successfully displays an uninteresting and tiresome atmosphere and communication failures that often occur in a real life. It is still quite unconventional and unique among other films today.