Hollywood’s existential hero

Warburton, Richard (2016) Hollywood’s existential hero. BA dissertation, University of Portsmouth.

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    This paper discusses the figure of the existential hero as presented in Hollywood films. The aim is to develop a fuller understanding of a nebulous archetype and examine how existential philosophy is conveyed through him. The structure is chronological and illustrates the development of the hero through three distinct genres. Chapter One describes a less than fully formed existential hero emerging from hard boiled fiction to his nascent cinematic form as film noir protagonist. The assertion is that America had developed a domestic form of existentialism before the arrival of the European brand of the philosophy. Chapter Two looks at how the key existential concepts of anxiety and alienation are manifested in the road movie genre during the New Hollywood period. A post-counterculture sense of cynicism and futility is shown to successfully intertwine with existentialism and the people and landscape of the road. Chapter Three addresses more recent comedy dramas to observe how film can expound existential philosophy in a more coherent manner, particularly in the films of Woody Allen. Here the existential hero begins to deal explicitly with issues of individual freedom and life’s absurdities. The paper concludes that cinema has become a potent and versatile medium for disseminating established philosophy via the existential hero’s narrative both implicitly and explicitly. The existential hero is recognised as a vital figure in Hollywood movies able, in multiple guises, to elucidate man’s search for meaning.

    Item Type: Dissertation
    Departments/Research Groups: Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries > School of Media and Performing Arts
    Depositing User: Jane Polwin
    Date Deposited: 11 Nov 2016 16:09
    Last Modified: 11 Nov 2016 16:09
    URI: http://eprints.port.ac.uk/id/eprint/22676

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