MOV 351

Comparative Film Analysis

Ko Iwagami


“Down by Law”

        Jim Jarmusch is one of the prominent post-modernist directors whose works produced a profound impression on the audience and often evoked quite controversial emotions. His films are very original and convey the authentic message of the author, but the director often chooses such means of conveying his ideas that his works are perceived in different way by different people. In fact, some people enjoy his films and believe they are genius. One the other hand, there are people who do not really understand his works and are very critical in relation to his works. At the same time, it should be said that his films are destined not only for specialists but also for the mass audience, though the director’s ideas may be not always clear for ordinary viewers.

        Nevertheless, the artistic value of his works is practically undeniable. As a rule, his films are stylistically and artistically rich. The director skillfully applies different stylistic devices, which help him convey his message to the audience. Among films created by Jim Jarmusch, it is possible to single out his film “Down by Law”, which depicts the tragedy of main characters who have to pass through serious challenges in the course of the film. At the same time, this film is a perfect sample of post-modernist films, where main characters confront severe reality of the modern world and where it is really difficult to distinguish between good and evil, right and wrong. In his film, the author shows that in the epoch of high technologies, there are still a lot of problems, which affect the life of ordinary people and make the life very difficult and even tragic.

        On analyzing the film “Down by Law” by Jim Jarmusch, it is necessary to start with the title of the film because it gives insight into the contents and message of the film. In fact, the title of the film is quite symbolic, though it is practically directly indicates to the overwhelming power of law and its impact on an individual. The title of the film clearly conveys the message that the law can affect the life of people dramatically and what is even more important is that the law is not always right or good. Basically, it is possible to estimate that Jim Jarmusch attempts to moralize and analyze the relationship between an individual and the law. Judging from the title, the director stands on the ground that the law can oppress an individual, it can deprive a person of freedom and punish severely. In this respect, the events depicted in the film are quite logical and basically support first ideas that the title of the film evokes. To put it more precisely, the main characters, Zack, Jack and Bob are cellmates and the director attempts to show that all of them are innocent and was wrongfully accused of crimes they have never committed. Nevertheless, all of them are sentenced and therefore, punished by the existing judicial system, which executes the law established in the society. In such a way, the author uses the title to prepare the audience to the perception of the film and adequate interpretation of his main message and ideas. It gives insight concerning the problem raised in the film, but at the same time, the title also creates certain emotional state or mood, which prepares the audience to perception of the film in the way the director, finds the most suitable. To put it more precisely, the title has quite a negative connotation of the law. Traditionally, the law is associated with justice. The modern society gets used to perceive law as the basis of the social life, since laws regulate relations between people and support the existing social order and social stability. The violation of law naturally leads to the punishment of an individual through which the individual is supposed to be corrected and change his life style and behavior. In other words, the law is viewed as a tool of the adaptation of the behavior of an individual to socially appropriate and acceptable norms. In such a context, the law is viewed as a positive concept since it maintains justice and social stability that are highly appreciated in the modern society.

Join now!

        However, the title of the film suggests an alternative view on the law. Implicitly, “Down by Law” tends to convince the audience that the law is the punishment above all and its power is used to get people down, while there is little indication to any kind of justice in the title of the film. On the contrary, such a title rather produces an impression that the law is not absolutely just, if not to say unjust. In actuality, the title of the film refers probably to one of the major themes of the film – the relationship between a ...

This is a preview of the whole essay