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Unformatted text preview: Alternatives: Turkish Journal of International Relations Vol.3, No.4, Winter 2004 92 Cinematizing Dystopia: Mad Max I Metin Bo ş nak* This paper is an attempt to analyze the theme of "dystopia" in Mad Max I (1979), a movie from the Australian cinema, which uses American leitmotifs in new disguises. 1 While, on the one hand, the paper will focus on the cinematic representation of the theme of dystopia in the specified movie; on the other, it will have occasional references to other literary and cinematic works that are related to or center on the theme. Before embarking on a discussion of the semiotic and structural workings of cinematic dystopia, I consider it inevitable to give a definition and origin of literary dystopia, in reference to which I will argue about the subject matter. Therefore, in the first part of the paper, there will be a laconic survey of literary dystopia and its fundamental characteristics. Then, a thematic and technical analysis of the individual films in dystopian paradigm will follow up. I. Dystopia as Literature Literary dystopias have emerged as a reaction to or counter-attack on utopias, sometimes the former being directly contingent upon the latter, and sometimes divided by centuries and with no direct dichotomy of interest. For instance, Orwell's 1984 (1949) is an attack on Marxist utopianism, expounded in The Communist Manifesto (1848), as practiced by Stalin in the Soviet Russia. What is utopia, then? Though he Alternatives: Turkish Journal of International Relations Vol.3, No.4, Winter 2004 93 was by no means the trailblazer of the genre, Thomas More was the first to apply the word "utopia" to a literary genre when he depicted his imaginary ideal island in Utopia (1516). Punning on "eutopia" (a place where all is well), More came up with “utopia," derived from Greek ou=not + topos=place. The title of the book denotes "nowhere." By choosing such a title as Utopia , More actually intended to imply the double nature of his subject matter. First, he wanted to give the picture of a country which he idealized; second, by inverting the "eutopia" into "utopia," he wanted to convey his tacit assumption that it was really too difficult to have such an ideal place as Utopia in the world; it is simply “nowhere.” 2 Common to many utopias is an ultimate optimism that people can better themselves and create an ideal society with its social and economic organizations functioning perfectly well. 3 They often project onto an idealized past or imaginary future some spatio- temporal possibilities, which human intellectual and physical dynamics can explore and realize. 4 For instance, H. G. Wells, a vigorous advocate of som, evolutionalism, and the advancement of science, prophesies in A Modern Utopia (1905): "No less than a planet will serve the purpose of a modern utopia." 5 Early in the 1940s, Orwell attacked Wells for his utopianism because he concluded that the latter saw history as “a series of victories won by the scientific man over the romantic man.”series of victories won by the scientific man over the romantic man....
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This note was uploaded on 02/01/2012 for the course BIOL 227 taught by Professor Koob during the Fall '11 term at Boise State.
- Fall '11