Written by Natalie Hulla.
Jon Naveh (M.A. ’14) will have his article, “Real Dystopic Visions: Cinematic Critiques of Postmodern L.A.,” published in the bi-yearly journal Ekphrasis. The article is included in a 2014 special issue on “Urban Symphonies.”
Abstract, composed by Naveh: “Real Dystopic Visions: Cinematic Critiques of Postmodern L.A.” discusses the tendency of 1980s sci-fi cinema to depict dystopic urban spaces within a realist framework. Numerous representations of dystopia have favored the cinematically built environment in addition to displacing their times into an ambiguous future. The two films I analyzed, Repo Man (Alex Cox, 1984) and They Live (John Carpenter, 1988), follow in the footsteps of Jean-Luc Godard’s sci-fi/realist masterpiece Alphaville (1965) by illustrating real urban space as a dystopic tendency of today. The two films avoid the more iconic landmarks and landscapes of Los Angeles in favor of the city’s real, inconspicuous, and unadorned streets. In the process, they render visible a tangible urban decay that was a site of anxiety for many civilians during the 1980s. More specifically, Repo Man and They Live project the symptoms of a postmodern urbanism and thus focalize their narratives around the way in which characters confront L.A.’s penchant for criminality/policing, surveillance, consumerism, and class division. The implications of these films are therefore historic, social, cinematic, and generic.
Ekphrasis is a Romanian publication edited by the faculty of theater and television of Babeș-Bolyai University, Cluj. The journal focuses on interdisciplinary articles related to contemporary visual culture, featuring book reviews, interviews, research and theory on cinema and representation studies.