Blog Post 6 – Stranger Than Paradise (1984)

STRANGER THAN PARADISE

Stranger Than Paradise is an American semi-neorealist black-comedy film by Jim Jarmusch and starred by John Lurie, Richard Edson, and Eszter Balint.  The film is a three-act story that follows the interactions of Willie (Lurie), his cousin Eva (Balint), and Eddie (Edson).

In the first act, Willie’s cousin Eva comes from Hungary and stayed with him for ten days.  At first, Willie made it clear that he didn’t want Eva to be with him but as the days went by, he started to enjoy her company.  The second act started a year later showing Willie and Eddie winning a large amount of money by cheating at a poker game.  They decided to leave the city and go to Cleveland to see Eva.  The last act was when Willie, Eddie, and Eva went to Florida.  Willie and Eddie lost their money and bet in horse race.  Eva decided to return to Hungary and left a note for Willie and Eddie.  Willie and Eddie won all their money back and they returned to their hotel, they found out that Eva left and went to the airport to bring her back.  Willie went on the plane but Eva was not there because Eva decided to take the flight the next day instead.  The ending scene was when Willie saw the plane leave and realized what just happened and Eva returning to their hotel.

Stranger Than Paradise is filmed in a series of shots; the picture fades in and when the scene is over, it fades out to black – the story is told in fragments.  Scenes were contained within a single shot and were separated by short period of black screen.  They were presented in chronological order yet independent from one another.  Most of the shots were static while some followed the characters.  Also, each act was shot in different parts of the United States.  The first act was filmed in New York, the second one in Cleveland, and the last one in Florida.  Though each act was filmed in different location, there was still sameness with the lighting, filtration, and composition of shots.  By filming in black and white, it eliminated the color that was not necessary in the film and giving uniformity throughout the film.

Margaux Paras

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