Post Modernism

Post Modern Definitions

The eclectic mixture of any tradition with that of its immediate past: It is both the continuation of modernism and its transcendence’ (Charles Jenkins 1986, what is post modernism.

‘Post Modernism’ – A late 20th-century style and concept in the arts, architecture, and criticism, which represents a departure from modernism and is characterized by the self-conscious use of earlier styles and conventions, a mixing of different artistic styles and media, and a general distrust of theories.

Postmodernism is a rejection of strict rules set by the early modernists and seeks meaning and expression in the use of these buildings.

Post Modern Theories

John Belton identifies 3 characteristics of post-modern cinema (Don’t relate these to TV)

Pastiche – Borrowing and reusing of another text without changing the original material (Dawn of the Dead – Shaun of the Dead) but still making strong references to.

It is an imitation of images from the past, offered as nostalgic substitutes for any real exploration of either the past or the present.

This referencing the past reflects the fact that for the modern film maker, there isn’t much that hasn’t already been said.

Jacque Derrida – ‘’All films cannot not have a genre’’

Jim Collins analysed films by saying:

There is a new divide in Hollywood today between the ‘eclectic’ or ‘hybrid’ film on one hand ‘smart’ and ‘knowing’ and a more traditional kind of film keen to endorse ‘authentic’ values and a solid, traditional sense of reality, as opposed to a playful sense of representations.

2 layers to post-modern media

  • One is a straight narrative layer
  • The other is the post-modern layer which is filled with meaning, pastiche, parody, intertextual references, irony, humour and knowingness.

Jean-Francis Lyotard

He suggests that grand narratives like religion, science, marxism, capitalism no longer have the same importance in our lives. The concept of progress and the arts, technology, medicine and knowledge would progress to a greater good is now seen to be questionable. The ‘Death’ of the grand narrative, as it is known, is explored in ‘Children of Men’.

Simulacra – copies of historical events or landmarks

Fantasyland at Disneyland – copies various disney films and books, e.g. Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, King Arthur.

Jean Baudrillard

Hyperreality – a condition in which ‘reality’ has been replaced by simulacra argues that today we only experience prepared realities e.g edited War Footage, meaningless acts of Terrorism, The Jerry Springer show.

the very definition of the real has become: that of which it is possible to give an equivalent reproduction…the real is not only what can be reproduced, but that which is always already reproduced: that is the hyperreal… which is entirely in simulation.

Illusion is no longer possible, because the real is no longer possible…

Reality TV 

Reality TV illustrates the interchange between the consumer and the media. They are ‘real people’ who people can be observed and scrutinised. They do not entertain, rather than exist, they are a mix of CCTV and a Gameshow. In a real world they are talentless nobodies who are treated as stars.


Disneyland is a simulacra. its a simulated reality. It is fake yet real. It is a place that exists and is accepted because our imagination says so. The power of the symbol over substance.


The high street is global, look at the choices and combinations we now have. People are driven to change their body shape through a diet (Weight Watchers etc) People have the choice to design their individual identities. What impact does this have on traditional culture? 


  • Faith could reemerge if scientific thinking loses significance.
  • Faith is now ‘up for grabs’ in the absence of absolute truth.
  • People can blend elements of various faiths to suit their lifestyle.
  • Globalisation has divorced faiths from locations and cultures.
  • Collective worship no longer needs to be based on ‘face to face’ interaction.

Post Modernism in architecture

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Post Modern Photographers

Post Modernism Moodboard jpeg


Examples of Post Modernism

Shaun of the Dead (2004)

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Shaun of the Dead is a classic comedy film which features many aspects of post modernism. The first being the genre itself, it features all the aspects of a horror film, however it is a comedy, two genres which totally contradict each other. Every aspect of a traditional zombie film is being challenged in this film, firstly, the character who Simon Pegg plays (Shaun) is what I would describe as a pretty boring person. He has little interest in anything, has a standard daytime job, has issues with his girlfriend, is basically a person who in any other horror film wouldn’t stand a chance fighting the dead. This totally contradicts Propp’s character theory of having a strong confident male lead actor. From characters all the way to the time of day (most horror films are set at night time) this film contradicts what a normal horror film would be like.

The producers of the film went that little stage further and decided to even mock horror films, for example when Shaun and Ed kill the first zombie they encounter, they use vinyl records instead of a proper weapon. They proceed to carefully pick out and choose what records they throw because they don’t want to use the good ones. After this they proceed to go inside and Ed eats a Cornetto, proving the zombie killing had no effect at all on him, mocking the horror and bringing out the comedy, Shaun was a little shook on the other hand making sure there is a balance of the genres so it doesn’t become a complete joke.

Memento (2000)

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Memento is a completely different film compared to Shaun of the Dead. First of all, Memento does not follow Todorovs Narrative Theory which already makes it stand out from the majority of movies. The order of the events in the film are all mixed up, however there are still aspects of Todorovs theory in there, they just aren’t as evident compared to most films.

The film Memento has a very deep idea of post modernism. From what I can tell it supports the postmodern idea that the truth is only what we want it to be, and memories are unreliable because as humans we will lie to ourselves to hear what we want to hear, much like Leonard does unknowingly as we find out at the end of the film that Teddy has been helping him all along yet he doesn’t believe it. The underlying idea is that ‘real’ truth does not exist, which contradicts so much of what we know as humans. We are led to believe that both Teddy And Natalie are trying to pull the wool over Leonards eyes the whole time, but we as the viewers get a sense of what Leonard is feeling because we also have little idea as to what is going on due to the narrative structure of the story being backwards, very clever work from Christopher Nolan.

Mulholland Drive (2001)

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Mulholland Drive leads us to believe that the film is about a connection/friendship being made between an aspiring actress new to Hollywood LA, and the lone surviving victim of a car crash in which the two try to found out what happened as she cannot recall the events, due to memory loss from the accident. When in fact the film is actually a dream, from what I could gather (I struggled understanding this film)

In reality Betty is actually Diane. Diane had obviously become depressed and angry after her acting career didn’t work out, leading her perhaps to excessive drug use. This clue is given to us when the real Diane is meeting up with a man and paying him to kill Camilla. While the two are at the Winkies Diner the waitress who serves them is named Betty. These clues all indicate that the film is in fact a dream.

I have never watched a film like this before, a film in which a dream and reality are fused together and mashed up leaving you very confused trying to puzzle what is happening. I switched off at one point in the film and from then on had no idea what was really going on, however I did still enjoy it. It is safe to say I will be staying away from this style of film when I make my own.

Triangle (2009)


I feel that he main post modern feature in Triangle is associated with Narrative. We are led to believe that the person with the sack over their head is an enemy, but it turns out it is a future version of Melissa George. A process keeps repeating itself and each time it repeats, the version of the main character we see progresses further and further until she makes it back home and the process starts again. Its pretty hard to explain but by watching it you will understand. You are left thinking that the film is just a few friends go on a boat trip, encounter a storm and take shelter on a huge ship. But as the story progresses the confusing narrative begins to unfold.

The majority of films have a set objective in which we (the audience) follow the protagonists story where they will complete this task. I like Triangle because we don’t know what is happening and we are led to believe something other than what we are predicting will happen.

Hardcore Henry (2015)


Just from this image, you can already tell how this film is Post Modern, its one of few films filmed in 1st person. It is engaging and works so well considering its filmed solely in 1st person with no other shots, its really incredible how director Ilya Naishuller and his team have managed to pull this off. The film is pumped full of action and is definitely worth a watch.

Natural Born Killers (1994)


For its time, Natural Born Killers was incredibly diverse. It still is today so you can only image how it would’ve ben received 23 years ago.  ‘What I set out to do was satirise the painful idea that crime has gotten so out of hand, so numbing and desensitising’. He attempts to attack the media which he considers to be at the base of serial-killer sensationalism: ‘pointing the finger at the system that feeds off that violence, and at the media that packages it for mass consumption’ – An insert taken from What I get from this is that this film was sort of an experiment to see how different audiences would react.

My Post Modern Film

After researching post modernism, I’ve come up with a brief idea as to which genres will be the best to change into a post modernist style, I am aware that any genre can be made in a post modern style but these are the list that appeal to me and will be the most exciting to produce:

  • Horror
  • Action
  • Comedy
  • Romance
  • Sci-fi

Any of these genres can be and will be in my case turned into hybrid genres which is were you put two or more genres together. Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead (2004) is a classic example of a hybrid genre. I feel like doing this is the first step to creating a successful post modern film as putting two conflicting genres together gives you a greater ability to challenge many traditional theories and look at more post modern theories such as John Beltons idea of a pastiche being when you imitate a film by making reference to it but it isn’t an exact remake, an example of this idea is Shaun of the Dead, being a pastiche of Dawn of the Dead.

I knew all along I wanted to make a film that explores an altered state of mind/reality, as I feel in 3 minutes there is only so much you can accomplish. If my film explores this aspect of altered mind/reality through drug usage I can justify that my film is post modern through the style of the narrative, I will have a completely jumbled up narrative to reflect the use of drugs.

A jumbled up narrative featuring a hybrid genre is the ideal reflection of post modernism for me. Im trying to think if there is a way to make a hybridised genre in my film but so far can’t really think of anything that will be effective. I was thinking of a horror/romance hybrid (Im not sure whether horror is the right description), the horror being the drug trip and the romance being a dark romance between the main character who loves someone but ends up taking drugs and dying because of this person.

The main motive behind my film is to show the social pressure on drug usage and the effect of modern synthetic drugs such as spice. This combined with a relationship breakup is the perfect way to show the dangers of turning to drugs.

Post Modern Ideas for my Film –

Non Linear narrative: Flash backs and flash forwards

Contradiction characters: Fitness fanatics eating burgers.

Self Referential: Breaking the fourth wall (getting the audience involved)

Multiple perspectives: Follow more than one storyline.



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