NIGHT ON EARTH:
A Critical Appreciation
by Bernd Wahlbrinck
story is supposed to have a plot: an exposition, a conflict, a climax, an
comes Jim Jarmusch, American independent filmmaker, and shoots a film
called Night on Earth, consisting only
of five vignettes, each of which takes place in a cab in a different city.
What's more, none of these episodes have what you would call a plot; they
are slice of life stories - no
exposition, no classic conflict, no real ending.
have a closer look at the
almost the end of the story.
rather, the end of the slice. Slice
of life story may be a dead
metaphor, but it is very appropriate here. It's as if Jarmusch had taken a
knife and cut out a slice of the lives of these three people, apparently
not bothering at all where the cuts were made. For example, even after
watching the ending of the New York episode we still don't know how the
driver possibly got his job, why he came to the USA, and how he is going
to survive as a cabbie in this big city with his absurd driving style.
sense, that may be part of the beauty of the episode: we identify with the
characters to a certain extent because they are likable (possibly with the
exception of the woman), and so we start to care about their unknown past
and their uncertain future. In fact, we might even wish that the man and
the driver would meet again and maybe develop some kind of friendship
because they started to like each other in spite of their differences.
sincerely believe this: the more often you watch this episode, the more
you will like it because you will notice tiny bits and pieces which
escaped you before.
Jarmusch once said, "The beauty of life is in small details, not in
big events." In the New York episode of Night
on Earth he has shown in a brilliant way that this is true.
Teaching Night on Earth in the classroom