Thematic And Stylistic Devices In Neo Noir Films - Pace University/ Eng 201 - Essay

1163 words - 5 pages

The Subjectivity of “Self Identity”
The protagonist in Christopher Nolan’s film ​“Memento”​ and David Fincher’s ​“Fight
Club” ​both struggle with finding their identity. “Identity cannot be found or fabricated but
emerges from within when one has the courage to let go”, this quote by Doug Cooper is an ideal
example of what Leonard Shelby and Tyler Durden had to experience in order to reveal their true
identity. The films wrestle through the idea of self-identity and how each of the protagonists
tackle their internal conflicts. Nolan and Fincher use thematic and stylistic devices in their films
to characterize the protagonist to achieve an auxiliary meaning of the film.
Christopher Nolan’s film ​“Memento”​ ​takes you through a journey of Leonard Shelby
trying to find and kill his wife’s rapist and murderer. Due to his short term memory loss, he
constantly lives in a state post-murder of his wife. ​The last vivid memory he has is when his wife
was raped and “murdered” by two men broke that into his house, he killed one and is determined
to find the other guy. Throughout the movie we come to find out that he is his real enemy and
that he actually was the one who accidentally killed his wife. Even though he has already killed
his wife’s rapist, the refusal to comprehend such details, somehow fills the void of emptiness and
grief. One thematic device used in this film is the narrator portraying a general mood of
dislocation and bleakness. In certain parts of the movie Leonard wakes up confused and out of
place, he does not even know how much time has passed and that is a huge factor in why he
cannot stop looking for the “murderer”. He also feels a sense of alienation, paranoia and
cynicism when he cannot remember catastrophic things he has done. The movie had many
unconventional and non-classical narrative patterns. The non - chronological ordering of events
was achieved through flashbacks and ultimately revealed the truth about what happened. Nolan
also used stylistic events which lead to the disorientation of the viewer. There is a constant
opposition of light and shadow is present in this film. The confusion of time and even the black
and white of the chronological scenes allow us to feel engaged in the confusion that Leonard
feels. The oblique camera angles made the audience feel what it is like in Leonard’s shoes which
gave us a better understanding of how perplexed his mind is.
In David Fincher’s Fight Club, the narrator, who is an insomniac, befriends a man named
Tyler Durden who soon becomes the leader of a terrorist cult. Since we do not have a name for
the narrator throughout the duration of the film the audience is left with a bit of confusion and
served purposefully in conveying the narrator’s own confusion. After much uncertainty the
narrator finally recognizes himself as one with Tyler Durden and realizes what he has done.
Towards the end of the film the narrator kills off his alter ego and ultimately achieves the

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