Influence-Jim Jarmusch

“The beauty of life is in small details, not in big events”

This is the beginning of what hopefully will be a series of blogs about the directors that have influenced us as filmmakers. The first in this series that I would like to highlight is American filmmaker Jim Jarmusch. He’s a fascinating director who has made some fantastic films: Broken Flowers, Dead Man, Coffee and Cigarettes, Night on Earth and quite a few more. Jarmusch was born in Ohio in 1953 and he started making films in the early 80’s, beginning his career with the film Stranger Than Paradise which was made for $125,000 dollars. Stranger Than Paradise went on to win the Camera d’Or award for best first feature film at Cannes. Jarmusch is famous for his deadpan comedy and vignette style of telling a story. He has worked with Tom Waits, Isaach De Bankole, Roberto Benigni, Forest Whitaker, Bill Murray, RZA, GZA, Alfred Molina, and many more talented actors. He is one of the most celebrated indie filmmakers of all time and really started the indie movement that led to Tarantino’s groundbreaking indie film Reservoir Dogs in 1992. Jarmucsh’s films are often slow moving, even to the extent that it sometimes appears as though nothing has occurred. However, at closer examination it’s very easy to see that his films are filled with subtle moments that enhance the story being told, and brings the characters to life. He has made films in all different genres, from romantic comedy (Broken Flowers) to westerns (Dead Man) to samurai films (Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai) to films about taxi cab rides (Night on Earth). What makes Jarmusch such a great filmmaker and an auteur is that no matter what genre he does you can still tell that it is his film. The subtle humor and dialogue, the static shots, and the beautiful, sometimes not so beautiful music that permeates his films all point towards his artistry. Jim Jarmusch is an incredibly talented filmmaker whose films are focused solely on the characters and how they inhabit the world.

Night on Earth has a very simple premise. In short it’s about what occurs at the same time of night in 5 different places around the world inside of a taxicab. Throughout the film we are shown LA, New York, Paris, Rome, Helsinki and the characters that inhabit these places. It’s truly a fascinating work that allows one to get a brief, yet somehow complete look at the intertwining lives of these characters. Jarmusch populates this film with profane, world weary, and confrontational characters. Yet somehow by the end of each vignette we have connected with them and by the end of the film, as the sun finally comes up in Helsinki, you truly feel like you’ve spent a night on earth.

-JV

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