American Splendor

American Splendor (2003)

1. Analysis of the Book. American Splendor is a comic book series written by Harvey Pekar. Harvey Pekar is regarded by many as a kind of Mark Twain of the underground comic scene, and this is largely due to his work with American Splendor. The series is autobiographical, and dissimilar from most other works of the comic book genre. American Splendor is a story of the common man who fights the struggles of everyday life. There are no fantastic superheroes or fantastic powers. Instead there is only Pekar and Cleveland which serve as the center of the series.

2. Analysis of the Film. American Splendor was directed by Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini, and released in 2003. The film is based on the comic series, American Splendor, by Harvey Pekar. It was written by Berman, Pulcini, Pekar, and Pekar’s wife, Joyce Brabner. The film is a combination of many styles. Bette Gordon described the film as, “a hybrid, combining adaptation, biopic, animation, and documentary elements. . . . Interspersed among the scenes of his life are interviews and documentary footage offering glimpses of the real Harvey Pekar, as well as cameos by an animated version that invokes Pekar’s irreverent humor.”

3. Analysis of the Adaptation. The film is really only a partial adaptation of the comic book series. It is similar to the adaptation of Tristram Shandy (see previous review below) because it conveys the spirit of the original work, but is not a word for word transliteration from book to film. It is a very postmodernist film in that it breaks a number of the traditional concepts by incorporating the author, non-actors, etc. into the film, and by knowingly crossing back and forth between documentary and story. Additionally, the film uses a number of techniques such as thought bubbles, commentary, and comic book scene introductions to tie into the films comic book origin. Furthermore, the technique of adding thought bubbles and Pekar’s personal commentary made it possible to more fully understand Pekar’s feelings about the film. For example, when they (Pekar and his wife) watched the theatrical version of his life, he commented on the difficulty of watching other people portray aspects of his own life. This would have been difficult to convey otherwise. I doubt any other means of conveying that point would have carried the same weight, either. The commentary by Pekar gave the film an additional authenticity and endorsement that other films lack. It makes the film autobiographical instead of merely biographical.

 4. Online Research of the Film. The three online sources I found in relation to American Splendor include: The website is a tribute to Harvey Pekar and American Splendor. The site does a fairly decent job of breaking down numerous elements of the film. For example, it offers a brief explanation of how the film is a tribute to the mundane. It also offers links to the various Letterman interviews. Fleming describes the film and explains why it is her favorite film. Chan discusses the film and why it is a fitting tribute to Gilbert Bouchard.

5. Critical Analysis.

Compared to Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story and Adaptation, how is American Splendor a postmodern, reflexive film?

Postmodernism was a reaction to the idea that any work should follow certain set dictates, and a reflexive film employs cinematic devices that make its audience aware of the fact that they are watching a film. In comparison to Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story and Adaptation, the movie American Splendor is an excellent example of postmodern reflexive work.

As previously mentioned (see above), It is a very postmodernist film in that it breaks a number of the traditional conventions by incorporating the author, non-actors, etc. into the film, and by knowingly crossing back and forth between documentary and fiction. It is for these same reasons that it is reflexive. There are many different Pekars. Likewise, the comic book had many different illustrated Pekars. The American Splendor comic series deconstructed the workings of comic books as the movie deconstructed the workings of film. Pekar challenged these conventions, and Pekar challenged the conventions of comics. The film does the same. “As Pekar realized, form does not dictate content: artists can play with these elements to make any kind of story they want.” (Suzette Chan)

In comparison to Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story and Adaptation it (American Splendor) is probably the best example of postmodern reflexive of the three. In the case of all three films there is a deconstruction of the boundary between film and reality. Yet, in the case of the first two films, where it is an attempt to analyze the creation of a film as an adaptation, there is no such premise in American Splendor. Rather, American Splendor reflects upon itself instead of the concept of adapting a film from book.





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Adaptation (2002)

1. Analysis of the Book. The Orchid Thief was written in 1998 by Susan Orlean. She uses a style of creative non-fiction to create a novel which relates the story of John Laroche in South Florida. Laroche is a poacher on the illegal hunt for a specific type of wild orchid. The book is based on an article she originally wrote for The New Yorker in 1995.

2. Analysis of the Film. The film Adaptation was released in 2002. It is loosely based upon the book The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean. First, it attempts to provide a film adaptation of the book, and, like the book, centers around the theme of adapting to adversity and change through mutation. Additionally, the film is, like Tristram Shandy, a film about making a film about a book. In both cases, the film is being made about a book that can’t really be made into a film.

3. Analysis of the Adaptation. The film is really only a partial adaptation of the book, The Orchid Thief. The title of the film alludes to its dual meaning of adapting a film from a book, and of natural selection (adaptation). The story centers around the theme of adapting to adversity and change (both in terms of overcoming writers block [Charlie] and overcoming life’s problems). Charles Darwin’s character is cameo’d a number of times in the film to allude to, and define, the process of adaptation (how we all evolved from a single cell organism, etc.). Spike Jonze alludes to it in several other scenes as well (i.e. the snippets of nature scenes, the primordial background Charlie attempts to insert into his screenplay). Furthermore, the film, in carefully citing the book, uses Laroche as a living example of Adaptation: He survives a car accident which kills his mother, uncle, and loses his teeth in the process; He adapts to the adversity – losing his wife to divorce; he adapts to the situation in which his home and business are destroyed by hurricane; he changes interests periodically to adapt to different emotional changes. In the end, he is a completely different person than in the beginning. The entire film is an allegory for adaptation or natural selection.

4. Online Research of the Film. The three online sources I found in relation to Adaptation include:  This website provides an interview with Meryl Streep who plays Susan in the film. The interview offers some of her personal insights into the film. Additionally, it provides some details not otherwise available. A critical analysis of the movie versus the book reporter talks about his anxiety is relation to Charlie Kaufman

5. Critical Analysis.

At one point, Charlie tells his brother “there is no such thing as the answer.” How else does the film express this kind of postmodern relativism? And how do the characters strive against it, in an attempt to arrive at some kind of certainty?

Relativism, as denoted by Charlie’s statement to his brother, “there is no such thing as the answer,” finds expression throughout the film. The characters seem to strive against it, in an attempt to arrive at some kind of certainty. Three notable examples of this can be found as follows: 

1. Jough Dempsey pens in his review (As mentioned in the lecture) that “McKee writes that all screenwriters write in a genre, and that they must write in their genre and master it. This is the antithesis of Charlie’s postmodern ideals. Charlie believes that each film is unique, that there is no way to write a good film in a formula.” Charlie struggles with writers block throughout the film for this reason. It is the driving force throughout the film as Charlie searches restlessly to find a way to write the screenplay. In his attempt to find some kind of answer, some kind of solution, to his agonizing attempt at writing the screen play, the entire film plays out.

2. Even Charlie and his brother struggle at two different alternative answers in the types of films they produce. Charlie’s attempt is a kind of High art, and his brother’s is an expression of Low art. They are a metaphor for an argument that has continued throughout the history of any kind of art, and has no real final answer. Rather than one definitive answer, its continuing debate creates a means by which a myriad number of works is created. It is all relative with  no definitive answer. Only two relatives that provide many different solutions over time.

3. Laroche is another example of this struggle. He constantly switches projects looking for an answer, only to find nothing, but he keeps searching. It is a sub-theme of the film. It is an exercise in struggle against relativism.


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The Hours

The Hours (2002)

1. Analysis of the Book. The Hours is a book written in 1998 by Michael Cunningham. It draws a great deal from the book Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. First, it follows a similar stream of consciousness style of writing. Second, it follows one of the themes of the book: that a day is a microcosm which captures the beauty of an entire lifetime. The lives of three women, in three different time periods (1923, 1949, and 2001), and in three different locations (England, California, New York) are the focus of the novel. All three women are somehow tied to the novel, Mrs. Dalloway. In the case of Virginia Wolfe, she is overwhelmed both by the task of writing the novel, and with a debilitating mental illness resulting in her suicide. The other two characters are deeply affected by the novel, and, additionally, work through a number of emotionally debilitating experiences similar to what might be found in Mrs. Dalloway. All three women have to deal with suicide. The novel concentrates heavily on themes such as depression, lesbianism, gender, emotional dependence, love, friendship, death and suicide. The title of the book, The Hours is drawn from the original title for Mrs. Dalloway.

2. Analysis of the Film. The Hours is a film made in 2002 starring a very big name, high profile cast (Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore, etc.). It is based upon a book (also titled The Hours) that, in turn, centers on another book, Mrs. Dalloway, by Virginia Woolf. The lives of three women (played by Kidman, Streep, and Moore), in three different time periods (early 20th century, mid 20th century, and current day), and in three different locations (England, California, New York) are the focus of the movie. The women, like the book of the same name, are tied to the novel, Mrs. Dalloway. In the case of Kidman’s character (Virginia Wolfe), she is overwhelmed both by the task of writing the novel, and her debilitating mental illness. The other two characters are deeply affected by the novel, and, additionally, work through a number of emotionally debilitating experiences, again, likes the book. The movie concentrates heavily on themes such as depression, lesbianism, gender, emotional dependence, love, friendship, death and suicide.

3. Analysis of the Adaptation. The adaptation of the film remains true to the book. It captures an accurate portrayal of the various characters from the book (due in no small part to the acting of Streep, Kidman, and Moore). The film successfully attempts to touch on the novels themes of sexuality (lesbianism). Each of the women is “discovering” these feelings at different times, and for two of them, at times when such issues were not broached publicly.  The film also successfully addresses the issue of mental illness. It examines the same dilemmas for all three women, but looks at them through the perspective of different time periods. The film adapts the book well by utilizing flashbacks and cinematography to capture the feel of the novel. Furthermore, it accurately utilizes wardrobes from the period to imitate a feel for the time. Finally, the outfits it chooses for Virginia Woolf were wall chosen, and seem influenced by the pieces she wore in various photographs taken of her.

4. Online Research of the Film. The three online sources I found in relation to The Hours include:   involves a fairly comprehensive analysis of the movie in comparison to the book. Actually, it begins as an analysis of the concept of time in both Mrs. Dalloway and in the movie The Hours. Yet, it transitions into an analysis of both books, The Hours and Mrs. Dalloway. The website has a great deal of relevance to the first critical evaluation question regarding the title of the film, The Hours, what it refers to, what is its significance and what theme or themes it suggests.  A quickquestion and answer about the title.  compares, rather unflatteringly, Mrs. Dalloway to The Hours (the novel).

5. Critical Analysis.

How does homosexuality (including lesbianism) function within the film? If you took out the gay characters and their concerns, how would that change the film?

Homosexuality (lesbianism) functions as one of the main themes of the film. The film demonstrates the different perceptions towards homosexuality in three different time periods. First, Virginia Woolf, was bisexual in both the movie, and in real life. Second, Laura shares an intimate kiss with Kitty which is a hint to an even greater, unexpressed longing and desire. Third, Clarissa is involved romantically with Sally, and was formerly involved with Richard who is gay. If you removed the gay characters and their concerns there would be no movie. In the case of Virginia and Laura their sexuality conflicts with the norms of their time period, and results, inevitably, in an irreconcilable set of problems that results in their depression. In the case of Clarissa, her sexuality is no longer as large a stumbling block to emotional happiness, but it is stifled by the complicated love with Richard. In all three cases, their sexuality is at odds with the relationships they each share with a man (i.e. Virginia and her husband whom she commits suicide to leave; Laura and her husband whom she abandons with their child; Clarissa and Richard whom she leaves for Sally).    



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Bride & Prejudice

Bride & Prejudice (2004)

1. Analysis of the Book. Pride and Prejudice is a classic nineteenth century English novel written by Jane Austin in 1813. The title immediately informs the reader of the theme of the book, and is derived from the fact that the main character, Elizabeth, needs to overcome her own prejudices, and the protagonist, Darcy, needs to overcome his own pride before the two can fall in love. The book follows their tumultuous journey to romance. In addition to following the romance of Elizabeth and Darcy, the reader is given an insight into the lifestyle, values, culture, etc. of the landed aristocracy in nineteenth century England.

2. Analysis of the Film. The film is a twentieth century take on the nineteenth century book by Jane Austin. Additionally, it is an attempt to create a Bollywood-esque version of the story set in modern day India. It is a multicultural concept for which Gurinder Chadha, the director, is well known (She previously directed Bend It Like Beckham). The film uses some very lavish sets, costumes and musical scenes to reproduce the Bollywood movie experience.

3. Analysis of the Adaptation. In some ways the film is a difficult project to undertake. The task of adapting a nineteenth century novel to the twenty first century can present challenges, but the additional challenge of reinterpreting it as a Bollywood musical offers an entire realm of new issues. Chadha rises to the challenge of creating a Bollywood rendition by incorporating a number of musical numbers and well choreographed dance routines. Additionally, she adds a number of unanticipated musical elements such as a gospel choir and Ashanti to produce a multicultural film which combines a number of different cultural styles.

4. Online Research of the Film. The three online sources I found in relation to Bride & Prejudice include a discussion of the movie: which involves a fairly comprehensive analysis of themes and film elements. It’s not a film review, but a film analysis which breaks down several elements of the movie. Additionally it offers considerable insight and perspective from an everyday point of view. Additionally, is a blog entry commenting on various parallels, or lack thereof, between it and Bollywood. offers the perspective of another guy, in another English class, doing the same thing I am.

5. Critical Analysis. Girender Chadha brings across several important elements from Pride & Prejudice, but also omits certain elements to create a unique interpretation which provides its own meaning and sense of purpose different from the book. Chadha incorporates the original plot into her film, and also conveys some of the Austen’s emphasis on family upbringing: Chandra gives the audience a fairly thorough understanding of the family background of both the main character (Lalitta) and the protagonist (Darcy). Yet, unlike the original novel, the emphasis is not centered as much on the Pride element of Pride & Prejudice as evidenced by the change in the title, and shifts its focus to marriage and prejudice. Additionally, Chadha’s film focuses more heavily on themes such as listening to your heart, a de-emphasis on the importance of material goods (Lalitta refuses to marry Koinor), and evaluates aspects of the institution of marriage in India. Furthermore, the film version does not offer the same insight into the 19th century English landed gentry. The importance of these acts of commission and omission is that it creates a film with a very different message and theme. Chadha’s film is not just a remake of Pride and Prejudice, but instead offers a number of insights and messages that are not necessarily present in the original P&P. It shifts its focus.



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Sherlock Holmes

1. Analysis of the Book. Sherlock Holmes is a genius. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is pretty smart too, but Sherlock Holmes is, hands down, one smart cookie. Holmes’ genius is one of the defining characteristics of Doyle’s series. Written in the latter half of the nineteenth century, the short stories and novels which comprise the Holmes series were known for their main character’s brilliantly deduced logic, fantastic cases, and amazing abilities (disguises, observational skills, etc.). The stories were set in Victorian England, and narrated by his close, personal friend Doctor Watson. The stories are reflective of the time period in which they are set,
and mirror many of the epitomized, asexual, gentlemanly ideals of Victorian society. Likewise, his relative asexuality, neatness, cocaine/opiate habit and gentlemanly financial independence lends a characteristic nod to the belle epoque era of which it was contrived.

2. Analysis of the Film. The film was created in 2009 by Guy Ritchie. Theses two aforementioned features of the film (its date of premier and its director) speak to the majority of its characteristic styles. First, Guy Ritchie is the same man who created Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. He is an action film kinda guy who likes, “to make cool movies about cool guys with cool stuff” (AO Scott, The New York Times). This film is no exception. What Ritchies created is, essentially, a steam-punk reinvention of a Victorian era story. (It would fit nicely with Wild, Wild West the series and Briscoe County Jr.) Second, every decade seems to seek to reinvent Sherlock Holmes in its own image. The last decade is no exception. Gone are the  epitomized Victorian values & stylings, relative asexuality, and cocaine/opiate habit. These are all replaced with the telltale action of our short attention span dictated times, and a sanitized anti drug (cocaine and opiate habit deleted) theme.

3. Analysis of the Adaptation. This is a non-canonical remake which is not based on any particular previous Holmes story. As previously mentioned, it is a steam-punk remake in many ways. The only real homage to the original Sherlock Holmes seems to be the Victorian setting with its stunning backdrops, imaging, and recreation of 19th century London. Guy Ritchie seems to have exchanged the elegance of Holmes for the brash cockiness of the modern era. Additionally, the scale of the mystery case seems well beyond the traditional scope of what you might find in most novels. In the movie he is out to save the world instead of some of his more minor cases in the original novels. The movie is much more massive, and lacks the suleties and genius that is Sherlock Holmes. It is not a faithful adaptation, but rather a hip, cool, trendy, yuppie remake with two trendy, bad boy stars (Robert Downey and Jude Law).

4. On-line Research of the Film. The three online sources I found in relation to Sherlock Holmes include: which basicically pans the film and points out dis-similarities such as, “he wears clothes that do not fit and exhibits horrible manners, something an Englishman of his class and in that era would never do.” She discusses the fact that the movie is an action film, but that it lacks the substance of the original novel. Her observations concentrate o the differences between the novels and movie, and generally tends to conclude that it is not a faithful adaptation. which gives high praise to the innovative and imaginative retelling of a nineteenth century calssic. At the same time he points out the outstanding work done on the cinematography. This review concntrates heavily on the cinematic style of Guy Ritchie, and points out many of the scenes and styles in the movie which are characteristic of Guy Ritchie’s style.

5. Critical Analysis. We see twice in the film Holmes’s clinical application of violence. It shows two different sides of Holmes (equally) which were not previously exhibited in the original stories: Holmes’s brilliant intellect, and his masculine physicality. It show both equally well. First, the fight scene is one of the few parts of the film which illustrates Holmes amazing intelligence. It begins with his precognitive analysis of how to win the fight. This is a nod to Holmes analytical skill, and blends it with Guy Ritchie’s slow motion style. It is a very Ritchie-esque scene reminiscent of Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels. Second, the application of violence in both scenes lends a new depiction of Holmes as a masculine, lithe, energetic, and powerful masculine presence. This is in sharp contrast to the pasty physicality with which he was portrayed in the original novels. Both of these elements combine to create a very different representation of Sherlock Holmes. It is radically different, and creates a new interpretation.


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Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story

Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story (2006), Film vs. Book

1. Analysis of the Book. Tristram Shandy first appeared as a series of stories by Laurence Stern in 1789. It is narrated by the lead character (Tristram Shandy) as a series of mishaps revolving loosely around his life story, and illustrates Tristram’s thoughts and ideas. This novel deals more with the interactions of Shandy’s family members than with Tristram himself. However, his relationships, particularly with his father and Uncle Toby, provide an insight into understanding Tristram’s personality. The book is constantly disrupted (diversions are key to the novel) by Stern’s narratives which serve as a springboard for his own personal agenda and beliefs. For a reader, this can be confusing and aggravating. However, one begins to realize that is the point of the book, and that Tristram is correlating his beliefs to daily activities as they interconnect with him in a disorderly manner.

2. Analysis of the Film. In Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story (2006), the producer, Michael Winterbottom does a nice job of producing a movie within a movie that coincidentally is about a book. During the production of this “movie” we become entangled with the daily frustrations of making this film. The actor, Steve Coogan plays Tristram Shandy, his father Walter, and himself. Throughout this film, the viewer is seeing three different personalities of this one actor. The theme remains the same. These 3 different personalities have two things in common: they are vain and insecure. They do what they can to promote their dominance. For instance, Steve demands that the costume designer builds up the buckles on his shoes to appear than bigger than Rob’s. His defense is not to be taller but for artistic reasons.

3. Analysis of the Adaptation. In the adapting the book into a film, Mr. Winterbottom manages to include comedy into a film that is branded to be unfilmable. By having Steve Coogan play three characters (including himself) the audience begins to feel the frustration of this one person and the demands of making the film.
The movie never actually gets around to filming the entirety of the book. Only select parts of the novel are portrayed. It honors and adds to the spirit of the book, but does not create a faithful retelling of the novel. Roger Ebert eloquently pointed out, “Tristram Shandy: A Cock & Bull Story… never gets around to filming the book. Since the book is probably unfilmable, this is just as well; what we get instead is a film about the making of a film based on a novel about the writing of a novel.” In short, it does not create a faithful adaptation of the book in its entirety, but does do a good job of mimicking the style of Sterne. Therefore, the film within a film aspect is a kind of metaphorical adaptation of Sterne’s work, and captures it in a way that a simple rehash of the storyline could not. Whether or not it is a “faithful” adaptation depends entirely on how you look at it.

4. Online Research of the Film. The three online sources I found in relation to Tristram Shandy include a review of the book: , an analysis of the film by Roger Ebert:…/REVIEWS/…, and a film review by David Walsh: The site has a nice overview of the book but tends to leave out the details of the characters. Roger Ebert’s review Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story (2006) offers more insight into the film. The review by David Walsh, compares and contrasts the movie and the book.
The review by David Walsh does an excellent job of explaining the complexities of the book and film. Therefore, the reader has a clearer picture of this unfilmable book that turned out to be a unique film that allows comedic insight into the characters.
Additionally, offers several productive stats of the film.

5. Critical Analysis. After seeing Michael Winterbottom’s film version, would you agree that Laurence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy is unfilmable? Does Winterbottom’s film capture the essence of the book, or not? I don’t believe the film is unfilmable. Anything is possible, BUT winterbottom’s film version tends to suggest it IS unfilmable since it doesn’t truly take on the task of creating a thorough interpretation of the novel. With that said, it is important to point out that it does capture the essence or spirit of the film very well. The film within a film aspect is a kind of metaphorical adaptation of Sterne’s work, and captures it in a way that a simple rehash of the storyline could not. Additionally, like Stern’s novel, Winterbottom attempts to hit on many similar points in very similar fashion. Yes, the film adds to the book. It’s almost like a sequel. Let’s look at some points it addresses:

What does the film say about motherhood, in terms of the Tristram story, and the filming-of-Tristram story? How about fatherhood? Similar to Stern’s novel the movie seems to elevate the role and virtue of motherhood. During the circumcision scene who is the one to whom the young Tristram runs and finds solace? His mother is the one who consoles the young Tristram. In terms of the birthing scene, we get a sense of how men “stayed away” and concerned themselves with politics or war, while the women banded together to help the mother. When Dr. Slop-his name is appropriate due to his appearance, arrived, he was eager to demonstrate his new tool-the forceps. While demonstrating the forceps-the viewer begins to cringe and so do the women in the film. The end result-the baby has a broken nose-So much for advances in birthing. It portrays fatherhood as pedantic and ignorant about most subjects pertaining to parenthood. It attempts to imply that motherhood is the only one of the two roles which is not ignorant of parenthood.
Particularly in how it treats pregnancy and birth, and the way men are portrayed as being both pedantic and ignorant about these subjects, is the film feminist? (Note that the book is very similar to the film in this regard).

Some may say the film may have feminist undertones. During that time period there were certain roles that men and women adhered to. So for the men to stay away while the woman is giving birth is understandable and adds a comedic tone to the film. Also, the time period illustrates how men proved their virility by how much they acquired in land, possessions, and number of children. It offers a contrast in roles between the two different centuries (late 18th and 21st). It provides a basis for drawing comparisons between the two: the relationship between Tristram’s parents versus the relationship between Coogan and his wife. Both have the wife spending a great deal of time in the bedroom, and with children while the husband finds ways to bolster his ego. Is it feminist? It demonstrates common behaviors between two similar personalities in different periods. Does it go so far as to make a broad generalization of all members of a particular gender? If so, it creates a broad and sweeping generalization or stereotype. Perhaps that makes it very feminist or misandrist. It seems feminist in that it portrays the women in traditionally strong/virtuous roles which have become pedantic and commonplace. The role is of the undervalued virtues of womanhood. The roles are tired and do not accurately portray women. Neither women nor men are really that virtuous.

The producers of the film-within-the-film seemed obsessed with battle scenes and love stories. This a send-up of Hollywood-style entertainment films. Hollywood films are typically obsessed with sex and violence with no regard for taste or literary value. It is considered an industry which appeals to base interests. Likewise, the film is a mockumentary (it is a parody of a “making of” film and a satire of reality television). This is well in line with the spirit of Sterne since his novel is a book about writing a book. Both are self reflexive. This leads into how the film is post modernistic. Its early postmodernism is an element frequently mentioned by those who laud Stern’s work.  Particularly in its film-within-a-film structure, Winterbottom’s Tristram Shandy is quite postmodern as well. It’s self-reflexive, in that it reminds us that we’re watching a film, and that films are fake. How else is the film self-reflexive or postmodern? “Postmodernism postulates that many, if not all, apparent realities are only social constructs and are therefore subject to change. It claims that there is no absolute truth and that the way people perceive the world is subjective and emphasizes the role of language, power relations, and motivations in the formation of ideas and beliefs.” This is the whole point of the film and novel, and begs an explanation of the role of certain characters… The intern Jenny is a budding auteur (or film professor!) who cites renowned auteurs Bresson and Fassbinder. The viewer meant to admire even though they might find her pretentious. It is supposed to impress upon the viewer the intellectual prowess of Jenny. This lends her later statements more power and credibility. It leads into her characters development so that her later statements are taken more seriously. For example, her and Stephen Fry (as an academic talking head) say that life is chaotic, driven by chance, and can’t be captured by art. The film argues for this, and confirms it? This is the same as Sterne. Jennie comments that who we become is all a matter of chance. It reflects upon the post modernistic approach of Stern mentioned previously. The chaotic nature of it all is also the point of the quick moment in the film, when we hear news about the war in Afghanistan on the radio. What is Winterbottom trying to comment on life’s chaotic nature. Winterbottom is also commenting on love and death. For Freud, it was all about love and death. That is part of how the film deals with love and death (sex and war) in addition to the war scenes, the Jennie/Jenny’s, the Pavlovian sex scenes, the allusions to cock, etc. Tristram Shandy is a Freudian film.

One of the central jokes of the novel is that it never really explains a story directly. Both Tristram Shandy the book and Tristram Shandy the film have disjointed narratives (they are non-sequential, and prone to diversions). Likewise, Winterbottom often employs split screens as a method to mimic Sterne’s novel?

Both the book and the film have various meanings and representations of “cock”. As mentioned “nose” is also a stand in for the male member in the book and the film. Actually, “nose” has often been used as a metaphor for penis, especially concerning size. This is a central point in the description of great men with big noses after the entire forceps accident where Tristrams nose is broken and enlarged in childbirth. Additionally, Steve references Groucho Marx’s joke about a woman with many kids where she said she loved her husband and he replied that he loves his cigar but takes it out now and then. One website states, “When describing the title and first showing a real bull, Tristram says that he’ll show us “the cock in a minute.” When Uncle Toby is hit in the crotch during a battle, Tristram says it’s about his (Tristram’s) “cock” and not Uncle Toby’s.” The role of cock and sexual potency, sustainability, virility is central to the story of Uncle Toby, and his dalliance with the widow. Similarity between cock and clock there is a wordplay to further connect the Pavlov story; Lots of cock interpretations from childhood are in both the film and book: the window scene in the novel and book, and the baby bathing scene in the film; Additionally there are many references to the title as when there is a bull mounting and trying to mate with a cow, and a joking comment about a man’s “cock”.

Finally, competition between Coogan and Brydon plays a central role to the film. So, who does a better Al Pacino, Rob Brydon or Steve Coogan? Does Steve Coogan personate Al Pacino better than Rob Brydon? The impersonation of Al Pacino between Steve and Rob illustrate the constant competition between the two actors? Throughout the film, both Steve and Rob’s character’s compete with one another.  For instance, when Steve wanted the buckle to be bigger than Rob’s and with Jennie, the Production Assistant attention.  However, we know that Steve’s character has a girlfriend with a baby visiting. So why does he care about Rob’s character vying for Jennie’s attention? Despite the constant competition in life for these two actors, one understands that they have a good friendship and I thought Steve did a better job impersonating Al Pacino than Rob.


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Alice in Wonderland

1. Analysis of the book. Alice in Wonderland is a classic of English literature. Since it’s initial publication it has been a source of endless speculation as to its various interpretations, meanings, and metaphorical interpretations. Ultimately, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and a book is just a book. Regardless, the story is the nineteenth century fictinoal classic of a young girl, Alice, who finds herself in a surreal and magical world where many things are not what they seem. It is full of many magical, mystical and other worldly concepts which transport the reader to another world. It has also laid the foundation for many types of novels and fiction which were to follow. Like A Catcher in the Rye the story of Alice has been the subject of a myriad number of varied analysis.

2. Analysis of the film. Many interpretations of Alice in Wonderland have been made. They range from G rated to XXX. The main themes of the Burton film are debatable, but two seem abundantly clear: first, there is a feminist motif throughout the film which aserts a very positive, and clear statement about feminine power and gender equality (ex. The slaying of the beast by a knightly dressed Alice); Second, Alice is used as an instrument of a rebel mentality which attempts to buck the traditional, and demonstrate the fallacy of many societal conventions. Additionally, in check with typical Tim Burton style, his formal film techniques (set/costumes, cinematography, sound design, editing, etc.) rely heavily on animation, digital effects, and a number of cinemagraphic effects to sccurately portray the surreal nature of Wonderland.

3. Analysis of the adaptation. The book is not an easy one to adapt into film. Yet, film is a much less difficult medium than, for example, stage or theater. Still, the fantastical nature of the film itself proves difficult to translate into a realistic cinematic experience. Tim Burton does a fantastic job of using digital and animation to convey to a viewer an accurate sense of Wonderland, but it is still flawed. Additionally, the film fails to capture the real essence of the literary work. It is caught up in trying to convey its own interpreted meanings, and loses its appeal to one of its initially intended audiences (young children). For better or worse, he attempts to expand the tale to a more adult crowd, but comes off as slightly preachy and indolent.

4. Online research on the film.

5. Critical Analysis Paragraph. Quite a few critics and reviewers have called Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland a feminist fable. How is Burton’s film feminist? How is it not?

Tim Burton’s Alice is Wonderland is most definitely a feminist fable for several reasons: first, the way it differs from other interpretations singles it out as a feminist fable; second, Burton’s use of cinematography to impress upon the viewer her independent spirit; third, her contra-traditional spirit and role.

Tim Burton’s Alice is different from both the Disney version, and most other versions. Tim’s adaptation is more suited to preteen or young adolescent. Alice’s strength and curiosity assist her decisions to take the initiative and not conform to what others have planned for her-the scene from the engagement party-illustrates her maturity. In this version, in contrast to most others, she is a feminist dragon-slayer. The Disney versions of its characters, for example, seem more playful than the seriousness in Tim’s film. For instance, the dog (Barnyerd) is concerned about losing his wife and pups if he doesn’t find Alice.

The costumes and scene layout in Tim’s version is very dramatic and very rich in color. It is also very dark. It stands in contrast to, and highlights, the transformation of Alice. Burton’s Alice needed the more gothic inspired scenes to illustrate her curiosity and maturity. He kept the same story line but with a more grown up Alice that realizes that she is not in a Wonderland but an ‘Underland’. Tim’s movies have always had a dark, and yet, intriguing side to them. This movie was entertaining to watch.

Finally, we can see Alice mature and define her own destiny. She wanted more than to settle down and be married. Tim’s version allows her to carry on her father’s dream of business ventures. She is able to set herself apart from other women in that time period. She slays dragons. It demonstrates her contra-traditional spirit and emerging role in society.


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