Wednesday, 30 November 2011

@Phil Postmodernism Essay Plan and Introduction attempt 1

Postmodernism Essay Plan


· Begin with: 'This assignment investigates Post Modernity through the idea of Deconstructionism used in specific scenes and characters in Scream (1996) and Funny Games US (2007)'...

· Brief order of points and how evidence will be useful

Para 1

· Begin with Derrida’s Destructive theory ‘sign and signifiers’

· “Meaning is never identical with itself because a sign appears in different contexts it is never absolutely the same ... the signified will be altered by the various chains of signifiers in which it is entangled. (Sarup, 1993: 34)

Para 2

· Text meaning and symbols – How situation atmosphere and viewer’s perception changes within the two films

· “It shares with other signs, including linguistic signs, the property of being open to multiple significations. The accompanying captions of photographs or written materials in a film.” (Stam, 1992: 34)

· Figure 1 – The arrival of the torturers in Funny Games; Figure 2 – The Beginning scene in Scream ‘The Phone Call’

Para 3

· The meaning of identity from Edvard Munch’s Scream turned into a slasher killer Ghost face and how the images are portrayed to the audience

· “Unlike the various strands of [structural] criticism, Postmodernism considers images as they relate to and across each other.”(McRobbie, 1994: 12)

· Figure 3: The Scream by Edvard Munch, Figure 4: Ghost Face


Para 4

· Rules in Scream and how the typical victim stereotype becomes the victor, equipped with the tools to survive

· “The affinity between the compilation film and assemblage and appropriation in other medias makes this the most characteristically Post Modern strain of contemporary avant-garde film making.”(Peterson, 1997: 143)

· Figure 5: Sydney standing triumphant over her torturer or gang discussing scary movies and ‘rules’

Para 5

· Rules in Funny Games and how the torturers have the advantage, allowing them to the keep their power over the Faber family throughout (briefly how advantages compare in both films.)

· “So, deconstruction analyses a text so thoroughly as to discover the many ways the text itself did not communicate upon initial reading.” (Michener, 2007: 64)

· Figure 6: Torturers sitting calmly opposite Farbers to create eerie tension

Para 6

· How director tricks us in Funny Games to a unfair resolution – the rewind scene and the ending where viewer knows what will happen to the next victim

· If ‘creative destruction was an essential condition of modernity, then perhaps the artist as [an] individual had a heroic role to play...” (Harvey, 1990: 19)

· Figure 7: Rewind scene or stare at the end

Para 7

· Truth and why viewer watches it – How Funny Games puts in the real seriousness and violence to make the audience feel uncomfortable and question why they watch films of this genre

· “Broadly speaking, Post structuralism entails a critique of the concepts of the stable sign of the unified subject, of identity and of truth,” (Stam, 1992: 23)

· Figure 8: Paul looks at screen including the audience as part of the world


· Highlight the key findings of the deconstructed techniques e.g. rules and changing (deconstructing) the structure of the horror genre (Don’t List)

· Form a judgement and emphasis points

This assignment will investigate Post Modernity through the idea of Deconstructionism used in specific scenes and characters in Scream (1996) Directed by Wes Craven and Funny Games US (2007) Directed by Michael Haneke. Derrida’s theory of the sign and signified along with the death of the author terms will be used to help provide evidence into how both film examples deconstruct the horror genre. It will also analyse how both films have used techniques and influences to make their films unique, questioning the reality of why an audience loves a horror movie by showing the viewer a more realistic representation of it. Reaching the climax of the story where the plot has twisted for dramatic effect in a way the audience didn’t expect. The points will also look at brief comparisons between Scream and Funny Games, to show how they are both more exaggerated and darker forms of torture porn films but also how differently they have been portrayed. Visual evidence of film stills and screenshots will add further evidence and help to convey how certain situations or moments in the film could symbolise a range of meanings because of the stage direction and camera techniques used in specific scenes.


  1. Hey Adam,

    I think your structure risks fragmenting a bit, and it's not really clear from this plan how your paragraphs will flow logically from one point to the next.
    I suggest you write your essay title after you've written your main body, as you may find the emphasis will change. I want you to consider the following suggested structure as a general guide to your content.

    Your first job (paragraph 1) is to introduce and define postmodernism in general - this, as we all know by now, is difficult, but you can make this point.

    Your next job (paragraph 2) is to define 'Deconstruction' as an idea and show how it relates to postmodernism generally (i.e. that deconstruction is a way of showing that the world is 'constructed' out of language and culture - out of ideas (not out of facts).

    Para 3 - introduce and define 'Metafiction' - as 'Metafiction is fiction that deconstructs itself as part of its principle conceit'. Metafiction is fiction that actively reveals how constructed it is, and how conditioned audiences are.

    Para 4 - introduce Scream and Funny Games US as examples of 'metafiction' and continue to compare and contrast the two approaches of the films to their deconstruction of the horror genre.

    You need to build in that logical progression from the general theme (postmodernism) through definitions of specific terms related to postmodernism (Deconstruction and then Metafiction as a characteristic of Deconstruction), to the your specific case-studies (Scream/Funny Games) and then to the specific instances within the case-studies that you're planning to use to illustrate meta stuff in action.

    Hope this helps.

  2. Oh - obviously you can reference the appropriation of Munch's mask by the makers of Scream, but I don't think 'Death of the Author' is your prime focus here, so don't derail your discussion with it.

  3. Sorry Phil I did read this earlier and hoped to have a new version up for you later today but anyway...

    Thanks for your suggestions I will try and put all this onboard and get a new essay plan as soon as I can tomorrow :)