Monday, November 2, 2009

"A Serious Man"

“A Serious Man”, the new film by Ethan and Joel Coen, was officially released on October 2 in the USA. Without knowing anything about the directors or the movie itself, the movie poster stands on its own as a biting little piece of black comedy by using an ironic juxtaposition of two symmetrically weighted subjects. Though it is incredibly simple, the image of a man dressed in conservative 1960s era clothing on the roof of a house next to a flimsy looking VHF television antenna seems to speak volumes. The contrast of his dramatic stance with the less than dramatic lighting contributes to the irony as well. If the image was created with hard light and long heavy shadows it would have had a depth and intensity which likely would have looked serious. Or if sky was full of awe inspiring clouds, extending the depth of the image, some the irony would be lost. Instead, the man stands there against the backdrop of a flat looking blue sky with his hands on his hips and his posture slightly slumped. His legs are spread in a confident pose and his countenance bears vague and curiously serious look. In spite of the title “A Serious Man” and the serious look of the man’s posture and expression, it is nevertheless impossible to take this man seriously. Every aspect of the image makes the seriousness of the man ridiculous. It is a scene which inspires as many insights as it does questions about the character and his story. This combination of development and intrigue is made possible by the precarious balance of the implicit and explicit within this image.

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