Movie Analysis Stranger than Paradise
Among the movies that count as significant milestones in the progress of the American cinema within the last quarters of the twentieth century is Stranger than Paradise. The producer, Jarmusch maneuvers from comedy to tragedy in single shots that make up 70 scenes. All of these scenes depict the humor and the sadness related to pursuing the American dream. The approach applied employs the American history, the modern sociopolitical issues, and the road movie. Jarmusch employs the rich and versatile cultural, political, and social American history to grasp the reach of the Dream. The approach is established in the opening progression of the film where a Hungarian girl, Eva comes to stay for ten days at her cousin’s, Willie, New York apartment. The director applies the perspective of the immigrant, the quintessential American, as a symbol of the search of the dream. Furthermore, the director engages a postmodern approach to the immigrant experience as history, to characterize the past as present. Besides this, he engages the sociopolitical contemporary setting of the stranger through postmodern allusion to the counterculture of the 1950s. This creativity makes the title more intriguing.
In the first sequence, there is only one sequence shot; a stationary camera that captures Eva while standing at an airport watching a plane land. This is printed on a grainy monochromatic black and white. The staging of this scene together with the indistinct black attire characterizes the nineteenth-century immigrants coming through the New York harbor, gazing at the statue of liberty, which is representative of the hope and dream for the New World. This explanation is strengthened by the title of the first episode, “Te New World”. The inherent association of Europe as the Old World and America as the New World further accentuates this. The second sequence draws parallels between the past ethnocentrism and the ethnocentrism of the Reagan period. During this time, the new immigrant groups separated against the Eastern Europeans. This is depicted at the beginning of the scene where a Willie converses with his aunt, Aunt Lotte. Willie objects the aunt’s request on the grounds that for ten years, he has not communicated with his Hungarian family and therefore no longer part of the family. The third sequence opens to a couple aspects of the American dream. Hawkin’s Screamin is actually Eva’s track and a recurrent motif of the movie, which is also significant. It introduces the viewer to the Stranger’s approach of contrasting dream with the reality that the movie presents. Within the context of the film, as indicated by the title of the song, the lyrics highlight the American dream of the immigrants to the New World. It is ironic that the song “I Put a Spell on You” contrasts with the myth to the mise-en-scène, which is presented as dilapidated, almost empty streets and buildings as Eva walks along. This fails to put a spell on anyone. Nevertheless, the song works with the mise-en-scène as it stresses on the content of the image.
The title gives the impression of a highly creative production. In this movie, color is drained away and the action of the characters breaks from gloomy rooms, with stagnant camera and cuts that are evident at the end of the scene. There are long silences among the characters, which constantly interrupts conversations that do in circles, wherever the characters go. The three characters decide to improve a road trip to success. Along the way, they knock down the mythos of the American dream in a unique approach. This is further underscored with the movie’s unique features. There is the impressionist lighting, which lingers in the background. This approach is attributed to the long takes and the unflashy camera movement, a move that suggests a corruption in the world as exhibited in the behavior of the characters. The filmmaking is stripped down to the minimum essentials, a strategy that defines the movie. The characters fail to acquire their long-desired promise, even though they continue with their search. Within the mundane moments in the film, there is a lot going on than the excitement the characters imagine is awaiting them beyond the horizon. When they go find the postcard America they were promised, they fail to find it. However, they find more beauty than they had ever realized in America. This is depicted in the manner in which they go on with the search, as they never quite say what is in their mind.
The title depicts the actualization of an American dream or worse still, a failure of the American dream. In defining the world, and more specifically the American dream, the producer focuses on New York, Cleveland, and Florida. When Edie and Willie go to meet with Eva in Cleveland, all the information that Eddie had acquired regarding the great city ends up being false. In its place, Willie realizes that the new places are a resemblance of the old ones. When the three characters decide to search for beaches in Florida, they end up being trapped in a desolate hotel. Irrespective of their search, they three characters fail to find whatever they had been promised in their entire lives. For instance, Willie left Budapest for New York in search of a promise, whereas Eva leaves within the possible opportunity she acquires to any other place apart from Budapest. The two characters are in search of the promised freedom and opportunity in new places, even though the new places are as different as initially portrayed.
The meaning of the title is also derived from the limited opportunity the characters have in defining the themes. It is difficult to differentiate Willie and Eddie apart from the assigned leader-subject distinction. Eva is supposed to be more of a symbol than a complete character. All these characters have their moments of growth. However, a lot more could have been achieved in the uniqueness that makes their journey so memorable. It is, however, clear that Jarmusch is uncompromising and is quite visionary.
The title, therefore, gives meaning to the term, “The American Dream”, which traces its origin to the inception of the nation, as depicted in the first episode ‘The New World’. The dream is actually best understood in plural since it refers to different things to different categories of people. however, the dream conforms to the dream of a good life, which should be better and fuller for every person. The dream is defined by the Puritan Enterprise, is represent the spiritual advancement to protect the new world, the upward mobility, as represented by the socio-economic climbing, and the Coast where the dream of money for nothing was attained from the Gold Rush to the modern Hollywood. The New England represents the Puritan center, the Midwest represents the notion that hard work and intelligence pay off. Therefore, the American dream as highlighted in the title represents the historical evolvement of the nation.