Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Journal Entry #4: Ed Wood, a post modern biopic

How is Ed Wood a post modern biopic?

First of all, what is it that post-modern biopics do? What do they give us? Their goal is to make the viewer rethink conventions.

Post modern biopics parody the genre, are playful, full of pastiche and self-reflexivity. There is deconstruction going on, attention to performativity, subjectivity, stylization and intertexuality (ie the appearance of Vampira in the case of this film).

Specifically, in Ed Wood, the post modern biopic takes up the subject of the genre, that hero, that idol of consumption (or production) that we love to watch.

But Ed Wood has no talent. He is kind and good but always struggling. The last scene in the film where he gets an award is probably a dream-like revision of his life. Did he make a great film and then go out in the rain and propose to his wife? Probably not. For the film ends with a quote, multiple quotes, playfully tacked on to the movie to let us know how everyone ended up: Wood, specifically, in a descent into alcoholism.

How does Burton’s film mise-en scene parody the genre?

Parody, strictly speaking, is a mocking imitation of the genre and parody focuses on exposing tropes, ideologies, codes and conventions of the genre.
One of the ways the mise-en-scene parodies the genre is in scenes where Ed Wood is shooting his films. The sets are stylized, the whole set is exposed, and the place outside of the set where the rain is being created and that falls on the characters before they enter the door is also shown. In another scene one of the heavier characters falls into the wall and the whole set reverberates. As well, in the grave yard scene, one of the granite headstones falls over, apparently made of cardboard and not granite. When I was looking at the above parodies I was having to remind myself that there is another director outside of Ed Wood whose name is Tim Burton. I cannot see him. It is he who is making all of this hilarity for the viewer.

Another of the wonderful parodies on directing is Ed Wood telling people that the first cut is great and he presses on to the next scene. We have seen everything go wrong in creating the shoot, but those details seem unimportant as he claims to have a larger, over-reaching vision at work.

1 comment:

  1. ... not to mention the dialogue regarding the film's use of black and white (historical accuracy/aesthetic homage) and the colour blind art director's preference for the 'grey cardigan.'