You can tell a lot about a culture by the art it produces. You can tell even more about a culture by the art it consumes. It is one thing that the current artistic and intellectual culture of our day is postmodern – that is, art and academia has on some level despaired of the the human effort to build a utopia and find truth without God. It is something else entirely when the ‘art of the masses’ – the popular movies that people consume – are increasingly postmodern and nihilistic This tells me that the postmodern malaise is not just confined to the dark rooms of the ivory tower, but also the wholesome streets of the common neighborhood. America is turning thoroughly postmodern. Modernism is beyond rescuing.
I have a love-hate relationship with postmodern cinema. All of the movies listed below – with the notable exception of Melancholia – are films that would make it to my top 100 list. However, a0s a student of both film and philosophy, I am very aware of how movies shape the public mind, and more specifically how each particular movie carries a philosophy of its own. I am rating these movies not as a filmmaker, but as a Christian and as a philosopher:
- (*****) means the film is postmodern in a hopeful or Christian way
- (****) means it is good, maybe eye-opening, but still very despairing
- (***) means it is neutral, probably violent or disturbing, but possibly eye-opening
- (**) means very postmodern and very nihilistic, but might still be worth watching if you have a strong stomach
- (*) means I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemies for fear they would kill themselves.
All of these movies are great films. They are also, each and every one of them, cries of human despair. Enjoy!
1. 8 1/2 (1963) (****)
2. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) (***)
3. A Clockwork Orange (1971) (*)
4. Blade Runner (1982) (***)
5. Pulp Fiction (1994) (***)