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Mark Conard

The Philosophy of the Coen Brothers

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“Written for both fans of the Coen brothers and the philosophically curious, without the technical language . . . educational and entertaining.” —Library Journal
Joel and Ethan Coen have made films that redefined the gangster movie, the screwball comedy, the fable, and the film noir, but no matter what genre they’re playing with, they consistently focus on the struggles of complex characters to understand themselves and their places in the strange worlds they inhabit. To borrow a phrase from Barton Fink, all Coen films explore “the life of the mind” and show that the human condition can often be simultaneously comic and tragic, profound and absurd.
The essays in this book explore the challenging moral and philosophical terrain of the Coen repertoire. Several address how Coen films often share film noir’s essential philosophical assumptions: power corrupts, evil is real, and human control of fate is an illusion. In Fargo, not even Minnesota’s blankets of snow can hide Jerry Lundegaard’s crimes or brighten his long, dark night of the soul. The tale of love, marriage, betrayal, and divorce in Intolerable Cruelty transcends the plight of the characters to illuminate competing theories of justice. Even in lighter fare, such as Raising Arizona and The Big Lebowski, the comedy emerges from characters’ journeys to the brink of an amoral abyss. However, the Coens often knowingly and gleefully subvert conventions and occasionally offer symbolic rebirths and other hopeful outcomes. At the end of The Big Lebowski, for example, the Dude abides, his laziness has become a virtue, and the human comedy is perpetuating itself with the promised arrival of a newborn Lebowski.
The Philosophy of the Coen Brothers sheds new light on the work of these cinematic visionaries. From Blood Simple to No Country for Old Men, the Coens’ characters look for answers—though in some cases, their quest for answers leads, at best, only to more questions.
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440 halaman cetak
Publikasi asli
2008
Tahun publikasi
2008
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