Saturday, 28 November 2009

Post Modernism Plan 1

Character Design is over but now Post Modernism is winding down to it's conclusion. I am posting this here just in case any 'passers by' can offer some advice.

As Tracy Ashmore says "Your Plan is your essay". If I can plan it all out before-hand then actually writing the essay will be a matter of filling in the blanks. I still need to get my quotes together, I have a whole host from various film review websites but very little from any established literary sources.

In the essay I intend to make four points about why Adaptation is Post-Modern using the topics Meta-Fiction, Death of the Author, Pastiche and criticism of the film being 'Narcissistic'. Using two examples for each topic from the film and then obviously backing it. Structurally I think it flows well, Meta-Fiction leads nicely into Death of the Authour, while talking about Pastiche leads nicely into why you could criticise the Post Modern aspects of the film. I feel like my Death of the Author aspect is slightly confused with other things, to be fair though it's hard not get a tad confused when it comes to talking about Post-Modernism and Adaptation.

Meta-Fiction deliberately draws attention to itself as being fiction about fiction and at it's heart, Adaptation is a film about writing a film. It's also a film about writing a film version of a book, whilst at the same time re-writing the reality of book that he's writing about, all while Charlie is re-writing his own life into a new fiction. When it comes to trying to understand the reality of the film we are always chasing are own tails because there is no reality even though it suggests there is one. It is the literal Ouroborus.

Death Of The Authour
The idea of of 'Death of the Authour' occurs in Adaptation. Adaptation continually blurs reality and fiction particuarly when it comes to Susan Orlean's book 'The Orchid Thief'. We are lead believe that Charlie is writing about 'The Orchid Thief' and real life people and events. Yet the final outcome is nothing like the book, yet it still is about The Orchid Thief. It brings into question ownership of the reality of the film and ownership of the reality of real people and things. Susan and Laroche are real people but they never had a relationship, neither did Susan become a drug addict. But she did write the book that Charlie is seemingly writing about and the film makes no effort to say this ISN'T what happened.

sidenote- Blurring of reality and fiction does not just occur in the film either. The actual screenplay is credited to both Charlie and Donald even though Donald does not exist in real life, even the Oscar nomination was awarded to both Charlie and Donald.

One thing I would say about Adaptation is that it uses pastiche as a mission statement against Hollywood rather than how for example Quentin Tarantino would use Pastiche as a love-letter to films. It's a key aspect I intend to focus on rather than citing examples of the actual things it pastiches like Rear Window.

There's always danger in sacrificing something or deliberately doing something cliched in order to say something profound about the state of cinema etc. It could lead some people to think that the writer/director/whoever is completely vain and stuck up their own arse. As I've found out this is what a lot of people think about the film and in particular the part in the swamp.

One thing I'm keen to avoid is just writing a review of Adaptation without explaining why it's Post-Modern, that will probably be hardest challenge.


tutorphil said...

Hi Tom,

Great to see you unpacking your ideas in this way; the trick, perhaps is to understand how the various strands of 'post-modern' practice at work in Adaptation are actually not 'different', but rather synonyms of each other;

for instance, the pleasures of meta-fiction are predicated upon the idea that there is no reality created by authors/film-makers, but rather a series of conventions mistaken for reality (which can be highlighted and punctured to satisfying effect).

Death of the Author is predicated upon the fact that there is no 'single resolved version' of an author's/filmmaker's vision (the Real or Truthful Version), but rather a collection of other ideas or quotations, all of which borrow and appropriate from other versions, and so can be remoulded or reinterpreted according to the 'world of meanings' as lived in by the audience.

A pastiche is a knowing appropriation of an existing coda (which is a meta-fictional approach because to 'lift' an idea and reframe it for satirical effect, is to be aware of the conventions and rules underlying it - i.e. the constructedness of fiction).

Your last point about pastiche being used differently is a masterstroke - use it well.

Looking forward to it Tom.