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American Road Movies as a Reflection of Culture

American road movies are a reflection of American culture, steeped in the particular culture and images of their time. In spite of this, road movies in general have common characteristics. An individual, two people or a small group attempt to escape the world they live in, to find freedom and sometimes redemption. Characters take to the road to ôfind themselves.ö Early modern road movies such as The Grapes of Wrath and Easy Rider reflect the social and economic upheaval of their time, the Great Depression in the former and the search for freedom in a conformist and greedy America in the latter. The characters in those films went on the road in search of a better life; adventure was secondary to survival. Postmodern road movies focus on a somewhat different kind of journey, one driven by the postmodern sensibility, a sensibility that conceives of the word as fragmented and meaningless. Postmodernism celebrates the immediate over the distant, the new over the old, the present over the past. In postmodernism the world of images has been strongly embraced, but images are not perceived to be ciphers to some higher spiritual truth; postmodernism lays no claims to such things as higher spiritual truths, so images refer to nothing in particular except perhaps to themselves or to other images (Huyssen). Two road films that reflect the postmodern sensibility are Jim JarmuschÆs Stranger Than Paradise, and Wim Wenders Paris, Texas. This paper will discuss and compare the two films in relation to the characters, the journey taken, and the philosophy or world-view of each film, particularly how the various elements reflect an existential and/or postmodern character and philosophy. The main argument, is that the chaotic conditions of the post-World War II world, particularly starting in the 1960s, has created a society devoid of easily defined roles and absolute truths.

Wim Wenders has used the road movie format in many of his best films...

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American Road Movies as a Reflection of Culture. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 12:20, September 22, 2023, from