Masters of the Grotesque

The Cinema of Tim Burton, Terry Gilliam, the Coen Brothers and David Lynch


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About the Book

The concepts and theories surrounding the aesthetic category of the grotesque are explored in this book by pursuing their employment in the films of American auteurs Tim Burton, Terry Gilliam, the Coen Brothers and David Lynch. The author argues that interpreting these directors’ films through the lens of the grotesque allows us1to situate both the auteurs and the films within a long history of the grotesque in art and aesthetics. This cultural tradition effectively subsumes the contribution of any artist or genre that intersects it but also affords the artist or genre—the auteur and the genre filmmaker—a pantheon and an abundance of images, themes, and motifs through which he1or she can subversively represent the world and our place in it.

About the Author(s)

Schuy R. Weishaar teaches English and philosophy at Richland Community College in Decatur, Illinois; he also teaches writing and literature at Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville, Tennessee. He lives in Illinois.

Bibliographic Details

Schuy R. Weishaar

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 219
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2012
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7186-7
eISBN: 978-1-4766-0060-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vi
Preface      1
Introduction      5

Part 1. The Philosophy of the Grotesque      13
I. Art, Being and Contrast      15
II. Metaphysics, Myth and Purgatory      31

Part 2. Interpolarity: Binaries of the Grotesque      50
III. Tim Burton’s Two Worlds      52
IV. Terry Gilliam’s Mythic Madness      81

Part 3. Menacing Invasions: The Hazards of Time and Subjectivity      113
V. The Mundane and the Catastrophic in the Films of Joel and Ethan Coen      115
VI. Obliterating the Subject in the Cinematic World of David Lynch      140

Part 4. Into the World and Back Again: From Politics to Paradox      170
VII. Politics, Culture and the Grotesque Family in Hippie-Slasher-Horror      171
VIII. Grim Reveries, or the Ambiguities      188

Chapter Notes      195
Works Cited      199
Index      209

Book Reviews & Awards

“I must begin by confessing that Masters of the Grotesque is a book I wish I had written. It is, however, a better book than I ever could have done…more theoretically sophisticated, more incisive, more far-reaching. Weishaar is a gifted writer, able to wrestle big ideas down to earth, drag them out of that very-20th-century Plato’s cave we know as a movie theatre and into the light, putting them to critical use and then plunging back into the cave once again, more than ready to persuade the still-imprisoned of his new understanding.”—David Lavery, Middle Tennessee State University.