Tap to Read ➤

Postmodernism in Movies with Examples

Sai Kardile
There are some foods that continue to preserve the word moreish. You aren't sated no matter how much you do to gratify your desire. This is same with postmodernism movies. Postmodern movies are pure enfant terribles; they dare to speak like no one and see the world like no one, so you will either lust over them or loathe them.


The scene in which Vincent (John Travolta) thrusts a syringe into Mia's chest to revive her was shot the other way round; meaning Vincent was filmed getting the syringe out of her chest and the same shot was run backward for the effect.
Postmodernist movies are reflections of incongruous elements that appear in fragmented forms, more like montages of different things. Just like the form of an object gets erased as it gets swathed in snow, likewise, postmodernist movies efface the boundaries between genres, cultures, styles, et al as they are smothered under miscellaneous elements.
Postmodernism is also characterized by treating time as a continual present, presentation of the unpresentable and the impossible, blurring of high- and low-class boundaries, manifestation of wild sexuality and violence as requisite portrayal of freedom and self-expression, and treatment of unreal or hyperreal as real.
Let us now understand the postmodern cinema through the following popular movies.
To define postmodernism is like capturing an apparition; it eludes grasp, but don't worry as we are on it. Postmodernism doesn't hew to any cinematic canons or styles and is either a potpourri of many genres or it completely denies the concept of genre per se.

Examples of Postmodern Films

Blade Runner(1982)

This can be understood using Ridley Scott's sci-fi dystopian movie, Blade Runner.
Blade Runner is a hodge-podge of film noir conventions, biblical motifs, and private detective influences borrowed from Raymond Chandler's detective fictions.
This movie is a product of another postmodern idea of filmmaking―self reflexivity, which means that you are completely aware of the contrivance of the filmmaking; in other words, the movie in itself keeps making references to its cinematic constructs.
While the premise of the movie is about Deckard's task of exterminating the Replicants, as the movie progresses, one realizes how the boundaries that distinguish a human from a non-human cyborg are blurred, which is one of the essential features of postmodern movies.

Pulp Fiction(1994)

A cult film, Pulp Fiction is another classic example of postmodern movies. Pulp Fiction, for starters, takes up a variety of styles, and this is evident through scenes like that of the dance competition that takes inspiration from the 1964 movie Bande à Part, as well as it also makes references to movies like Hitchcock, Deliverance, La Femme Nikita, et al.
Tarantino also tries to conjoin Pulp Fiction to his films like The Assassin and Reservoir Dogs. Pulp Fiction also effaces the boundaries between the good and the evil; the hero and the anti-hero. The narrative structure of this movie is another postmodern cinematic aspect, which is fragmented and doesn't connect the audience in terms of time and space.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang(2005)

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is a postmodern noir as well as a hyper self-reflexive movie that takes inspiration from the pulp mystery novel series from the 1940s―Bodies Are Where You Find Them (Johnny Gossamer is a homage to that brand of detective fiction).
The movie, as mentioned earlier, is self-aware as Robert Downey Jr. keeps telling the audiences that they are watching a movie and what a bad narrator he is―a prominent feature that keeps pointing toward the artificiality of itself.

Blue Velvet(1986)

Blue Velvet is not a mere pastiche of movies, but that of the noir genre over all. It lifts distinctive elements from movies like Vertigo, Born To Kill, Shadow of a Doubt, and Laura without redirecting their individual cinematic essence.
Blue Velvet is self-reflexive writ large as it indicates at its simulacrum through the robin that is found in Jefferey's garden. This reminds the viewers that they are watching a movie. As a characteristic feature of a postmodern movie, Blue Velvet shows both real and unreal as if unable to separate the 2 along with self referentiality and inter-textuality.

Run Lola Run(1998)

Run Lola Run is an astounding German crime thriller that makes a perfect example of a postmodern movie. Cinematographic techniques used in Run Lola Run scream post modernism―we like the play of high resolution and low resolution on characters depending on their importance in the movie. This intermingles reality with illusion.
The narrative structure remains non-linear, again one of the cardinal characteristic of postmodernism, which is distinct and progresses in its own world. Its music underscores the blurring of high culture and low culture through techno and electronic music.

Other Popular Postmodernist Movies

1. Monty Python and The Holy Grail (1975)
2. Scream (1996)
3. Taxi Driver (1976)
4. Dead Man (1995)
5. The Big Lebowski (1998)
6. Chungking Express (1994)
7. Sex, Lies, and Videotape (1989)