Film Analysis: NIGHT ON EARTH
Course evaluations

Jarmusch and the everyday

Suarez writes:

Night on Earth seems to suggest that there is something inexhaustible about quotidian experience. A simple taxi ride, the most random of encounters, brings us into contact with personal depths and complexities that are difficult to account for (page 80).

What do you think of this assessment of the film and how it shows us ordinary experiences and encounters? How is m-e-s used to this effect? Can you apply this analysis to Stranger than Paradise, too?

 

Comments

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Josh Noble

I find this approach towards a film to be refreshing. Most movies go to great lengths to create characters in extreme of uncommon circumstances. While this is entertaining, seeing people interact in such a mundane way shows the beauty of life. Every conversation has the potential to be interesting. We don't need to be placed in extraordinary circumstances to learn about ourselves of others.

Hope Sneddon

The space inside the cab in which the interactions were taking place in was very small and the encounters may have been ordinary, yet the discussions had depth and showed complexity. I think that by containing the characters to the inside of the cabs contributed greatly to how we connected with the stories and individuals.

Lauren Hiland

I think this assessment of the film is accurate. A simple taxi ride can introduce you to someone you would have otherwise potentially never met before! I think it shows even small interactions can have the potential to change how we think and feel about other people and give us a different perspective on the world. M-e-s is used in the way that the camera shows everyone riding in the taxi, it creates an intimate moment by having th camera be that close. I think this anaylsis applies better to this film than Stranger than Paradise.

Lauren Hiland

Thinking over it, I think that example can be related to the film Stranger than Paradise too. It talks about random encounters and how ordinary experiences and encounters can have different effects on different people. In Stranger than Paradise, the guy didn't want his cousin to come and stay with him, and it was kind of just chance that he "got stuck" with her. But, by the end of the week he was attached to his cousin. This random and unexpected encounter between the two cousins ended up creating a sort of friendship between them.

Anna Markee

I like Jarmusch's style of displaying everyday experiences. He does a good job of showing that a movie doesn't have to stray too far from everyday life to be interesting and entertaining. An aspect of m-e-s that Jarmusch uses to display these ordinary experiences and encounters is open form. The way the characters are placed in the taxi seems very natural and not staged. In Stranger Than Paradise, Jarmusch also uses open form in many parts of the movie. The open form makes things seem very ordinary and realistic.

Lily Miller

The ordinariness of Jarmusch's films makes it seem like the film is looking on what the characters are doing in their everyday lives. This is reflected in the m-e-s. Clothes, settings, and things of this nature are things that can be seen in everyday life because of this the viewers are able to possibly connect better with the story that is trying to be told. These two films that we have seen so far of Jarmusch's have not tried to portray anything like a dream-state or some fantastical story.

Lisa King

I think the setting of the story, taking place in taxi cabs, was a way to tell both ordinary and out-of-the-box stories, in a very ordinary setting. The realistic setting made it easy for us as the audience to connect to the story and connect to the actors, whether or not the stories themselves were realistic or not.

RobElmer

The cab interior is the perfect place to make a connection to someone. To air out frustrations and life problems. In the Roman scene the taxi driver even turns it into a confessional! This place, surrounded by the non - places that they passed (broken down stores, gas stations, turnpike, airport terminals etc), along with the medium shots through the cab window, helps create a stage for the "ordinary experiences" to happen.

Karl Amspacher

Jarmusch uses the cab ride to trap the characters in the film together, but I don't think that it was necessary to the story to do that. I think that the characters could have had the same conversations just in a different location, and that the cab ride is just a convenient setting.

Katlyn Sylvia

In terms of what Suarez talked about in the reading, the idea of a car being 'inside' and 'safe' to some degree in film sense was thrown off through these interactions in the cabs. It shows that even inside ourselves there is turbulence, that even 'safe' is not 'safe', that the otherness we are so afraid of is inside as well as outside. It was a pretty deeply felt metaphor to me, and challenges the typical way the audience might view the m-e-s inside a car. I liked how it intentionally took us away from what we expected, very similar to the first Jarmusch film we viewed.

Melissa Werner

I agree with Suarez, after all, who can say what wonderful conversations are taking place somewhere in a little taxicab, right this moment? I think there is something fascinating about a conversation with someone you'll probably never see again, and this movie captures that. Personally, I think that the taxicab setting was the best way to achieve many of the interactions in the film, because these kind of conversations would end much sooner if the people involved could simply walk away. (An elevator ride would have a similar effect, but would be much too short.) As for whether it could be applied to Stranger Than Paradise, I agree with Lauren's observation that initially Willie was "stuck" with Eva.

Jose Arredondo

I agree with this statement because small encounters even though seemingly unimportant tell us a lot about people’s personalities and livelihoods. In situations like this people can start off with clean slates and be whoever they want to be. In this film however the characters stayed true to their selves and instead tried to get to know each others "real" selves. M-e-s showed the developing relations through the changing Character Proxemics and the way they were organized

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