Nihilism in Film and Television

A Critical Overview from Citizen Kane to The Sopranos


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SKU: 9780786425471 Categories: , ,

About the Book

This book explores the idea of nihilism, emphasized by German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, through its appearance in modern popular culture. The author defines and reflects upon nihilism, then explores its manifestation in films and television shows.
Among the subjects examined are the award-winning television series The Sopranos and the film noir genre that preceded and influenced it. Films probed include Orson Welles’s masterpiece Citizen Kane, the films of Stanley Kubrick, Neil Jordan’s controversial The Crying Game and Richard Linklater’s unconventional Waking Life.
Finally, the author considers nihilism in terms of the decay of traditional values in the genre of westerns, mostly through works of filmmaker John Ford. In the concluding chapter the author broadens the lessons gleaned from these studies, maintaining that the situated and embodied nature of human life must be understood and appreciated before people can overcome the life-negating effects of nihilism.

About the Author(s)

Kevin L. Stoehr is an associate professor of humanities and the chair of the Division of Humanities in the College of General Studies at Boston University. He lives in Wells, Maine.

Bibliographic Details

Kevin L. Stoehr
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 226
Bibliographic Info: 32 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2006
pISBN: 978-0-7864-2547-1
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1133-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vii
Preface: When Nothing Matters      1

1. Nietzsche, Nihilism, and Existentialism      5
2. The Nihilistic Vision of Film Noir and The Sopranos      27
3. “The On-Going Wow”: Tuning In to Dreams of Waking Life      55
4. The Ambiguity of Horizons: On the Nihilism and Perspectivism of Citizen Kane      67
5. Through the Glass Wall: Welcoming the Stranger inNeil Jordan’s The Crying Game      82
6. When the Legends Die: John Ford and the Fading of Traditions and Heroes      97
7. Kubrick’s Nihilistic Clockwork      137
8. Nihilism as Detached Existence      181

Notes      195
Bibliography      205
Index      209

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Highly recommended”—Choice