Dystopia-En-Abyme: Analysis of The Lobster’s Narrative

  • Vladana Ilić Department of GeneralStudies, Mildred Elley NYC Metro Campus, USA
Keywords:
dystopia, utopia, narrative, counter-narrative, abyme, resistance, hope

Abstract

The paper analyzes the dystopian narrative of the film The Lobster (2015, dir. Y. Lanthimos) as a political act. Rather than strictly focusing on what the film exposes as problematic (romantic and sexual relationships, emotional intelligence, and love in general), the analysis examines how this problem is presented through its dystopian vision, its narrative’s trajectory and characters’ actions, with what kind of critical potential these are endowed and consequently, what kind of political message the film communicates. It does so by looking more closely at three important narrative elements of the textual dystopia: the space of the film, the protagonists, and the language. Lastly, it examines the interpretative possibilities of its open-ended structure. The analysis aims to show that the film resembles abysmally looping narrative structures through which it acquires an enclosed mythological quality that debilitates any agential potentials of the narrative, fails to provide a utopian impulse, and consequently ends up supporting status quo.  

Downloads

Download data is not yet available.

References

Adorno, Theodor W. 1967. “Aldous Huxley and Utopia.” In Prisms, 95-117. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Baccolini, Raffaella and Tom Moylan. 2003. “Introduction: Dystopia and Histories.” In Dark Horizons: Science Fiction and the Dystopian Imagination, edited by Raffaella Baccolini and Tom Moylan, 1-12. New York and London: Routledge.

Badiou, Alain. 2004. Fifteen Theses on Contemporary Art. Performance Research: A Journal of the Performing Arts 9 (4): 86. doi: 10.1080/13528165.2004.10872057.

Dimock, Wai Chee. 2016. “Lobster in Purgatory.” Los Angeles Review of Books, June 18. https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/lobster-in-purgatory.

Fitting, Peter. 2003. “Unmasking the Real? Critique and Utopia in Recent SF Films.” In Dark Horizons: Science Fiction and the Dystopian Imagination, edited by Raffaella Baccolini and Tom Moylan, 155-166. New York and London: Routledge.

Forster, Edward Morgan. 1909. The Machine Stops. Las Vegas: IAP, 2009. Kindle edition.

Haselstein, Ulla. 2013. “The Cultural Career of Coolness.” In The Cultural Career of Coolness: Discourses and Practices of Affect Control in European Antiquity, the United States, and Japan, edited by Ulla Haselstein, Irmela Hijiya-Kirschnereit, Catrin Gersdorf, and Elena Giannoulis, 61-80. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.

Jameson, Fredric. 2016. Gherman’s Anti-Aesthetic. New Left Review 97: 95-105. Accessed April 27, 2017. https://newleftreview.org/II/97/fredric-jameson-gherman-s-anti-aesthetic.

Lanthimos, Yorgos. Interview by Gavin Smith. “’The Lobster’ Press Conference | Yorgos Lanthimos & Ariane Labed | NYFF53.” YouTube video, 26:31, posted by “Film Society of Lincoln Center,” May 9, 2016. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SIalS6aNQnQ.

Levitas, Ruth and Lucy Sargisson. 2003. “Utopia in Dark Times: Optimism/Pessimism and Utopia/Dystopia.” In Dark Horizons: Science Fiction and the Dystopian Imagination, edited by Raffaella Baccolini and Tom Moylan, 13-27. New York and London: Routledge.

McHale, Brian. 1987. Postmodernist Fiction. London and New York: Routledge, 2004. Adobe eReader Format.

Moylan, Tom. 2000. Scraps of the Untainted Sky: Science Fiction, Utopia, Dystopia. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

Penley, Constance. 1986. Time Travel, Primal Scene, and the Critical Dystopia. Camera Obscura 5 (3) 15: 66-85. doi: 10.1215/02705346-5-3_15-66.

Rose, Steve. 2011. “Attenberg, Dogtooth and the Weird Wave of Greek Cinema.” The Guardian, August 26.
https://www.theguardian.com/film/2011/aug/27/attenberg-dogtooth-greece-cinema.

Sargent, Lyman T. 1994. “The Three Faces of Utopianism Revisited.” Utopian Studies 5 (1): 1-37. Accessed January 15, 2017. http://www.jstor.org/stable/20719246.

Scott, Anthony Oliver. 2016. “Review: In ‘The Lobster,’ Colin Farrell Plays a Divorced Man in a Loner-Hating Society.” The New York Times, May 12. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/13/movies/the-lobster-review-colin-farrell-rachel-weisz.html.

Suvin, Darko. 1982. “The SF Novel as Epic Narration: For a Fusion of ‘Formal’ and ‘Sociological’ Analysis.” In Positions and Presuppositions in Science Fiction. London: MacMillan Press.

Vieira, Fátima. 2010. “The Concept of Utopia.” In The Cambridge Companion to Utopian Literature, edited by Gregory Claeys, 3-27. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Wegner, Phillip E. 2003. “Where the Prospective Horizon Is Omitted: Naturalism and Dystopia in Fight Club and Ghost Dog.” In Dark Horizons: Science Fiction and the Dystopian Imagination, edited by Raffaella Baccolini and Tom Moylan, 13-27. New York and London: Routledge.

Zamyatin, Yevgeny. 1921. We. Translated by Natasha Randall. New York: Modern Library, 2006. Kindle edition.
Published
2017-08-30
How to Cite
Ilić, Vladana. 2017. “Dystopia-En-Abyme: Analysis of The Lobster’s Narrative”. Issues in Ethnology and Anthropology 12 (2), 467–487. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.21301/eap.v12i2.6.