Pastiche and How Great Filmmakers Steal…PERIOD!

A wise man once described Film as the newest form of art of the 20th century which can also be defined as a series of images projected on a screen. And the succession of images creates ideas which, in turn, generate emotions.

Pastiche, which is a term used in the literary and film world, can be termed as TV’s gift to contemporary philosophy and film. It can be defined as an artistic work in a style that copies that of another artist, work, or period. Pastiche in the context of Film is described as a cinematic device that honors the cinematography of another filmmaker through the imitation of specific scenes or iconic moments in the movie. Sometimes, it could be a reboot of the entire movie or just some scenes.

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Another term used to define Pastiche is MISE EN SCENE (Placing on Stage). ‘Mise En Scene’ describes the composition, prop placement and overall visual theme adopted during the filming process. It’s important not to confuse this term for Parody; which is intended for its comedic value.

The shows, Stranger Things and Mr. Robot have one thing in common (apart from employing actors that have been nominated for Golden Globes), which is the use of Pastiche during its production.

Stranger Things is a typical case of Pastiche of almost every iconic sci-fi film in the 80s. An excellent example of this is seen at the end of the first episode when the boys discover El in the woods. This scene imitates the one in E.T where Elliot finds E.T in the cornfield.

“Good artists copy, Great artists steal.”

The Duffer Brothers who wrote Stranger Things admitted to recreating most of the iconic scenes in the series as a tribute to their favorite movies growing up; most of which were from the 80s. They managed to capture the supernatural and terrifying worlds created by big names like Wes Craven and Ridley Scott; while also managing to slap adult viewers in the face with nostalgia.

Similarly, Mr. Robot is a Pastiche for several iconic action films like; David Fincher’s ‘Fight Club,’ and the Matrix. The series protagonist has an imaginary friend (his late father) and provides voice-over narrative throughout the series, which is similar to Edward Norton’s character in Fight Club. Also, the storyline of Mr. Robot revolves around a Hacktivist group called F society, which is not so different from Project Mayhem in Fight Club. The only glaring difference between the two was that while Mr. Robot wrecked Virtual Havoc on the world, Project Mayhem acted out physical acts of destruction.

There was also a scene where Elliot had a conversation with his dead father (imaginary friend), which was gotten from The Matrix, word for word.

Being able to emulate key elements from great works of art is what makes Pastiche a gift to film and contemporary philosophy. Imitating elements of specific films not only honors the cinematography of the original work, but it also provides new context and further explores the themes present in the originals. Evoking nostalgia in film buffs and super fans is also a bonus. To quote the words of another wise man;

Film Meet Art: How Famous Paintings Inspire Great Filmmakers

We all know that many filmmakers have been inspired by famous paintings. Directors like Quentin Tarantino, Sofia Coppola, Steven Spielberg, Stanley KubrickPaul Thomas AndersonMartin Scorsese and Terry Gilliam have pulled directly from the art world to create some of their masterpieces.

A remarkable video essayist Vugar Efendi, has created a stunning series of video essay call “Film Meets Art”. In these videos, Vugar explores film shots and the famous painting that inspired them. Filmmakers should find inspiration from all art forms, not just by watching films.

The art world has an endless supply of inspiration for today’s generation of filmmakers. Check out this very cool series of videos below.

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