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Living the Post-Modern Hamlet

Living the Post-Modern Hamlet

Written by Triptayan Chatterjee

[dropcap]L[/dropcap]ife is not a Shakespearian gathering of players on a stage. It’s actually a curvilinear activity of mind and body. It is the stream of consciousness. Momentary actions of the subconscious mind. And this sub-conscious mind can only narrate the definition of cinema.

To speak out for the universal life, there is the only way in cinema; traditionally we call it film language. But in the era of Postmodernism if we call it cinema language, then it gets an astounding height and covers the real meaning of cinematic creation. The world has seen so many historical phases and subphases of cinema.

Sometimes, to make a non-linear presentation, cinemas are ending with some isolated shots and images, which is not bringing any compact message at the end. Film language is thought with the theme, woven with the images and shots, framed with many abstract sentences and lastly, it makes a thing which is called a perfect universal cinema. Film language is the heartbeat of all good and creative cinemas irrespective of all definitions, all genres and all cultures. It is an inevitable tool for the postmodernism.

Just like a sentence formed with some words.

Lines are made with innumerable points. But in fact, no straight line can be drawn on earth, because any part of the world is an oblate spheroid. This is the shape of our earth, so any line drawn is always a curve and the idea of a straight line is imaginary. And the natural law in every sector of life, living or non-living is universal. Hence life is like a curve. Postmodern films have to develop a certain film language according to their needs.

A postmodernist film is formed with some shots and each shot contains some images. Every image has a micro-theme which leads to the greater theme manifested in the entire film. In some cases, a traditional postmodern creator takes the help of dialogues and those dialogues are compensated by subtitles for the viewers who have not any knowledge of the language of these dialogues. But the more dialogue there is, the more subtitle is needed, which compels viewers to use both their brain and eyes. One is for translating the subtitles and another one is for continuously running successive shots and images in the film. This can be horribly harmful for post-modern cinema. Sometimes the lack of maintaining variance of these two layers can confuse the viewer. Here comes the relevance of the film language which avoids dialogues as much as it can and speaks out with the shots and images only in abstract words and sentences. All these will come through appropriate pacing. Actually, making postmodern films is not the presentation of the stream of consciousness as it is, it is the presentation of this stream of consciousness in a routine manner which can actually make a good film.

There is no alternative for a postmodern creation in our times.

A particular shot of a postmodern film can be described by image sequence, by dialogues or by the film language. Actually, it can only narrate the events of the film without words or dialogues but can’t explain the critical issues. It can make the viewer realize the events to some extent. A linear or non-linear storyline can be expressed by simple image sequences. And even sometimes this storyline can be explained by dialogues. But our individual, social and other aspects of life are so critical which stands helpless before the image sequence only.

“Camera is ready to take a shot!
Let us go with a filming of William Wordsworth’s classical poem ‘Solitary Reaper.’ In the first stanza there is
‘Behold her single in the field
Yon solitary highland lass.
Reaping and singing by herself
Stop here or gently pass.”’

We can make it with image sequence simply by shooting a highland girl reaping and singing and a few dialogues between two characters, one asking another to be silent or to gently pass. It’s a simple image sequence which will explain the lines of the poem. But when we look at the last lines of the poem and when we see there is ‘The music in my heart I bore/Long after it was heard no more’, then what image sequence will we form there? Actually, no simple image sequence can explain this theme. Here we must swim across the film language. And the best way and only possible way of explaining this theme, this feeling is symbolization. Allegorical symbolization can make the theme succeed.

The complex moments, the inner conflicts of individual, conflicts among different theme flows of the storyline must be explained using the film language to make the cinema comprehensible. But unfortunately, in many cases, special effects and editing capabilities are being used to explain the abstract themes. Here, technology is being dominant over human creation. We can’t deny editing and special effects, but art is something created by human beings and we should keep it in mind when it comes to postmodern cinema.

We are now swimming across the postmodern era of cinema. Looking back to the modern era of cinema it comes before our eyes a term called ‘DETAIL’. In cinematic language, this ‘DETAIL’ is one part of the film language. The ‘DETAIL’ was used particularly in narrative films, especially in narrative features. In the postmodern era there are diversified ways of thoughts, expressions, themes and presentation. Sometimes other branches of art like painting, architecture, literature are also being entangled with the cinema. At the highest level, it is being defined as an experimental film. In this paradigm, the postmodern film is discovering and somehow inventing the different language. In today’s films, postmodern language can be theatrical lexicology, can be a trigonometric formula, can be an atomic structure and can also be the universe made with innumerable galaxies.

A postmodern film which has decided to abide by this formula will make, for instance, three characters basically balanced with each other and give an output of a certain totality. An incident will have to pass along the film where the characters will play. But when a particular character is loosened in the script, other two will have to balance it to maintain this totality which is represented by the triangle. A sense of this triangle, a flavor of this geometric formula will have to show in different situation of the film. The theme, plots, characters, events, shots and images will have to go according to the different steps of this geometrical formula. A postmodern film can succeed then.

TAKE will go on.

The earth is still moving around the sun. Global warming, tectonic plates, celestial bodies are taking new dimensions. All these are leaving strong impressions in our conscious and subconscious mind. New feelings are being born along with their complex theory of existence. In this arena, we have ‘miles to go before we sleep.’ We must make serious, meaningful and impressive postmodern cinema.


Triptayan is a filmmaker looking for a different horizon. Earlier a journalist Triptayan has done intensive research on film language and made different documentaries so far. He is now concentrating upon feature film in a vast landscape. Professionally a teacher, Triptayan has also passion for making films threaded with the international and universal thoughts.

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