identity Vs. Imagined Communities: The lure of the Unknown

This essay was part of a series I wrote which focused on cinematic depictions of a modern Europe struggling to deal with a new-found pan-Europeanism. In it, I wanted to explore Bendict Anderson’s theories on ‘Imagined Communities’ through the personal crises of identity experienced by two young Western European men as they interact with and incorporate non-traditional identities – as depicted in Gadjo Dilo and The Spanish Apartment. Interestingly, note that both Xavier and Stephane are played by the same French actor – Romain Duris – probably due to his awesome hair (see below).

Benedict Anderson has described national cultural identities as ‘imagined communities’. Explore the concepts of ‘place’ and ‘displacement’ in relation to an imaginary ‘home’. How does such displacement affect our understanding of national and European cultural identity?

Gadjo Dilo (Tony Gatlif, 1998) and The Spanish Apartment (Cédric Clapish, 2002) explore the effects and processes exerted on identity when it is ‘displaced’ from an imaginary ‘home’ to a new, unknown ‘place’. Through the experiences of both Xavier and Stephane, the films offer insight as to the personal, national and cultural actualities that exist on the outskirts of what Benedict Anderson calls ‘imagined communities’. A framework for the inspection of the themes present in Gadjo Dilo and The Spanish Apartment will be provided by first expanding on Anderson’s taxonomy of nations, allowing for a clearer classification of the notion of ‘imagined communities’. Next, cinema theory will be called upon to explore the idea of the other in the form of the abject, and how this relates to both films. In addition, the linguistic interplay present in both films will be explored to highlight how cultural identities are based upon language differences. Ultimately allowing for a investigation into the struggle for an individual, non-aligned identity by Western Europe’s young adults, as portrayed by Xavier and Stephane.
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Le Temps Vs. Les Douleurs

This essay was written as part of a French Cinema subject in early 2010. In it, I wanted to explore the changing depictions of war in French cinema as it came to terms with the terrible events that form part of the French post-colonial and war-time subconscious. Hiroshima Mon Amour deals with French post-WWII collaborationist guilt, while Indigènes focuses on the ongoing mistreatment of the colonial French armed forces that fought in WWII.

Les thèmes de la guerre et du conflit dans Hiroshima Mon Amour et Indigènes.

“Le temps guérit douleurs et querelles” – Pascal
Séparés par cinquante ans, Hiroshima mon amour d’Alain Resnais et Indigènes de Rachid Bouchareb nous semblent, au début, être tout à fait différents dans la façon dont ils traitent les thèmes de la guerre et du conflit. Par exemple, Hiroshima mon amour ne nous présente aucune image de bataille pendant le déroulement de son histoire. En revanche, Indigènes ne présente que des batailles.
Néanmoins, en cherchant un fil commun entre les deux films, il paraît qu’il y en a plusieurs. Focalisés sur les aspects humains d’une guerre, les deux films privilègient une interpellation des conséquences psychologiques causer par des moments traumatisants. Cette dissertation expliquera comment et pourquoi les deux réalisateurs ont choisi d’élargir certains éléments de leurs histoires, leurs personnages et leur cinématographie pour traiter des thèmes de la guerre et du conflit. Continue reading

popular fiction Vs. casual games

A self-formulated essay topic for a Popular Fiction subject. With this essay, I wanted to explore the conceptual, historical and empirical links between the rise of Popular Fiction and the rise of Social Gaming – in so doing, I identified a climate of change centered around the means, needs and paths necessary for a new, popular form of media to arise. I then used this platform to comment on the continued trajectory of casual games, as they further diverge from traditional games.

“Identify how the rise of Popular Fiction has informed the uptake of Social gaming”

The rise of casual gaming within the broader domain of today’s ludic forms evokes the rise of popular fiction in the late 19th Century. Characterized by their difference from traditional games, casual games can therefore be deconstructed and analyzed by examining the prevailing circumstances that saw popular fiction delineate itself from Literature. To do so, this essay will primarily expand upon the societal changes that allowed popular fiction to arise, and hence seek to establish similar parameters within today’s media landscape to explain the rise of casual games. Having established this framework, the essay will address the ways in which the rise of popular fiction has informed the rise in casual games: by exploring the differences and the similarities of the forms’ respective positions in relation to their established counterparts. Finally, an appraisal of how the rise of casual games can be related to the rise of popular fiction will be made. Continue reading

bond Vs. bomb: orientalism at work

A given topic for a Cinema Studies subject that focused on cinematic representations of place and space. With this essay, I wanted to explore Edward Said’s theory of Orientalism by examining its applicability to two films that deal explicitly with otherness – Dr No and Hiroshima Mon Amour. As often happens when writing papers for cinema studies, my once cinematic heroes turn out to be zeroes. In this case, poor old 007 got retired; at least there’s Fleming’s Bond to still hold dear.

“Edward Said defines Orientalism as a ‘Western style for dominating, restructuring and having authority over the orient’. He proposes that the orient functions within the Western imagination as a fantasy space associated with ideas of exoticism, eroticism and cultural otherness. Examine the ways in which Western cinema has adopted this view through the organisation of the urban landscape and the depiction of the relationships between the Western/European subject and the Oriental city”

As a mode of discourse, Orientalism provides a structured framework through which a work of cultural production can access and portray exotic elements that may be unfamiliar to its audience. Particularly in relation to popular Western cinema, Orientalism affords filmmakers a facile shorthand with which to quickly establish characters, settings, motives and persuasions within the narrative of the film. In so doing, however, such films are informed by, and inform further the Western fantasy space wherein ideas of exoticism, eroticism and cultural otherness are reduced to stereotyping and banality. In this essay, I will examine the ways in which an understanding of Orientalism informs the reading of Western cinema, particularly in the case of Dr. No (Young, 1962) and Hiroshima Mon Amour (Resnais, 1959). To do so, this essay will primarily explore what is meant by Orientalism, and then subsequently apply this understanding to identify how and where the two selected films access and diverge from Orientalist discourse. Continue reading