Analysis Of Spike Jonze's 'Being John Malkovich'

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After a comprehensive shift in the culture and values of the western world nearing the end of the 20th century, postmodernism revolutionised literature. Texts became a form of communication that extended past earlier two-dimensional literary conventions and metanarratives. Unprecedented holistic philosophies brought about unorthodox forms of literature through imaginative powers, stylistic ingenuity and linguistic playfulness. Texts encouraged responders to challenge accustomed notions and beliefs not only in relation to the construction of texts themselves, but also ideas about the transparency of language and the existence of universal truth. Spike Jonze’s critically acclaimed 1999 film ‘Being John Malkovich’ explores postmodern ideas such …show more content…
Jonze uses satire to emphasise this by allowing the main characters to behave without conscience. From the introduction, Craig Schwartz is portrayed as an unorthodox protagonist, being unambitious and cynical. The repetition in “Consciousness is a terrible curse…I think, I feel, I suffer” reflects the sentiment that humans are often motivated purely by self-interest and are constantly trapped in a state of guilt if they acknowledge their consciousness. Jonze captures the depth of human emotion and the idea that a protagonist can still be immoral, not having to fit character tropes. Through satire, immorality is shown as the result of unfulfillment. Although both Lotte and Craig understand their experiences within Malkovich are unfulfilling, they keep returning in search of some meaning. Jonze’s use of capricious dialogue shows this, such as when Doctor Lester shows pity towards those “Forever doomed to watch the world through someone else’s eyes”. This concept is exhibited to reflect the lack of answers within texts due to the subjectivity of meaning and the notion of cultural …show more content…
The film’s general lack of interest in defining gender tropes stems from the blurring of gender within the vessel, with the goal being for individuals to be represented as fragmentations of thoughts, ideas and emotions. This is showcased through the character of Maxine, who subconsciously appreciates the ideas of people rather than their physical gender. Jonze’s satirical utilisation of dialogue corroborates this through the quote “When I was with him [Malkovich] last night, I was looking into his eyes and could sense your feminine longing”.
The notion that texts should be resolved with a univocal ending collapses with the film’s intentionally ambiguous ending. The ending shows Maxine and Lotte’s daughter as the new “vessel” or text for Craig to one day enter. Ambiguity is used as a device to challenge the prevailing belief that texts must have a solid ending and keeps the responder thinking about aspects of the film even after its end, redefining conventional structure.
Thus, the Subversion of literary traditions through dynamic ideas allows responders to interpret meaning through the challenging of accepted literary paradigms. Spike Jonze’s ‘Being John Malkovich’ is a clear example of how post-modernist composers question philosophies holistically through conceptual ingenuity, revolutionising interpretations of texts playfully through the transparency of

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