TASK 1 Opinion Essay: Two Examples of Postmodernism
Postmodernist Elements in Fight Club and Blade Runner
Society is influenced by the media around it, it is clear that Blade Runner by Ridley Scott (1982) and Fight Club by David Fincher (1999) are two movies that are examples of post modernism films, there are many postmodern themes that Blade Runner and Fight Club have in common
Is it possible that two postmodern films could be so different and yet both able to challenge the preoccupations of modernism? Blade Runner (Scott, Blade Runner) and Fight Club (Fincher, Fight Club), although equally famous with very similar postmodern characteristics, differ dramatically in their interpretation and adaptation of postmodern elements.
On the one hand, Blade Runner involves a more subtle view of postmodern society and is known much more for some of the controversy concerning Deckard’s true identity. On the other, Fight Club, to most viewers, is better known for its graphic violence and sexuality although it is apparent it sought to be a postmodern film.
While both films are considered postmodernist movies, they approach elements of the unreliable narrator, intertextuality, and fragmentation differently.
This comparison of postmodernist elements begins with the unreliable narrator. In postmodern film, the unreliable narrator is a narrator of questionable credibility (Wiehardt) that is evident in logical errors, contradictions, and mental illness. In Blade Runner, Deckard is the unreliable narrator whose credibility is questioned by virtue of his seeming lack of morality and clues that cause viewers to wonder if he is actually a replicant.
In one scene, Gaff leaves a unicorn-shaped origami that – there was a unicorn in Deckard’s dream making it more than coincidental. In Fight Club, the protagonist appears to suffer from mental illness that includes an imaginary character in Tyler Durden and events that turn out to be creations of his own mind. For example, over time Jack realizes it was he – and not Tyler – that was having sex with Marla which becomes evident he calls Marla and asks “What’s my name?” (192) and she says Tyler Durden. These schizophrenic episodes conform with a more traditional postmodernist use of mental illness to compromise the narrator. Overall, Blade Runner compromises the narrator by compromising his presumed essence while Fight Club uses mental illness.
In postmodernism, intertexuality plays a pivotal role by bringing together seemingly disparate external texts into a coherent mosaic across multiple genres, cultures, generations. It has the power of shaping one text by way of another including pastiche, parody, and illusion to name but a few that adds dimensionality in the resulting work product. In Blade Runner, viewers are immersed in intertextual references. From the diversity of languages and superimposed symbolism, Coca-Cola advertisements compete for viewers eyes and ears as they listen to Japanese speakers, fashion from the 1940’s, and femme fatales from eras past. In contrast, Fight Club uses fewer references but they are still evident. Tyler’s bathroom scene is similar to the famous Jacques-Louis Davids Death of Marat painting. In general, intertextuality in Fight Club comes across more forced compared to Blade Runner where the it is more organic and subtle.
Lastly, fragmentation is a frequently used device in postmodernist films to fracture the neat chronological time line; instead fragmentation allows for unfolding a plot in both time and space. For example Blade Runner uses fragmentation with a focus on the mixing of genres including science fiction and film noir across generations. Also, the film uses a multitude of architectural styles that combines into futuristic pyramids. In Fight Club, fragmentation of time is used to break apart blocks of events that do not happen in order. As a case in point, the scene between the narrator and his boss when the boss asks “Is that your blood?”, it shows a mixture of imagined and real scenes that make it increasingly difficult to decide what is and isn’t real. Generally, both films take alternative approaches to ranging from the fragmentation of genres to the manipulation of time in Fight Club and both are successful to that end.