Vivian Liao (487206017)
Postmodern Fiction and Film
March 25, 2000
Parody of War History and Boundary-Crossing Between
Reaility and Fiction in Stuntman
After watching the movie Stuntman, I feel that it confirms to what Linda Hutcheon has termed in her essay--a
"parody" of history, for the film within the film directed by the director, played by Peter Otto,is a representation of
either World War II or Vietnam War. Moreover, this film manifests Postmodern characteristics-- the
boundary-crossing between reality and fiction. However, quite deviant from Foucauldian postmodern view of "the
death of author," this film seems to assert the concept of the author as God.
The film within the film shot by the director, played by Peter Otto, manifests postmodernist parody because it
problematizes the value and nature of the history of World War II and Vietnam War by mixing the past and the
present. The openign war scene taken at the beach watched by audience itself deconstructs the nature of war.
Bombarded by the plane, hte seriously wounded or killed soldiers, played by characters, with disemboweled or
dismembered bloody bodies originally should remind us the cruelty and tragedy of World War II. so we can see
audience show thier pity and fear. However, later on by the time those soldier lying at the beach take off their
make-up of their injured parts after the scene is taken, reality and fiction merge and reverse teh effect of this bloody
war scene. We can see those soldiers are not only fictional characters in the film within the film but are also people
in reality. Moreover, when they return to reality and their wounds turn out to be the effect of make-up, the
seriousness and tragic effect of war are deconstructed by the ironic scene where audience clap their hands with
The parody of war history again appears in the scene wher German soldiers chase the stuntman. In my own view,
this is another scene where reality and fiction merge because it paralles the openign scene of the unnamed runaway
prisoner who is pursued by the police. Although the stuntman is playing a role in the film within the film, in the
meanwhile, he also plays the role of himself since both are runaway figures. Moreover, this chasing scene, which
should bring the suspense and seriousness of war, on the contrary, shows some comic effects created by the
ridiculous fast motion of characters adn by the light, playful background music.
Eventually, the ending of this scene alos undercuts the serious nature of war and breaks the boundary between
reality and fiction. The ending that the stuntman chased by German soldiers tumbles from the roof and finally falls
onto a bed where two lovers make love combines the past and the present at this moment because the modern
lov-making scene of two lovers is interrupted by the solider of World War II. Moreover, the characters around the
stuntman and these two naked lovers are prsent figures in reality. Therefore, the merge of reality and fiction is so
suddern that the stuntman does not recognize that the ending is part of the film within the film until the director
shouts out "cut" and announces the success of their performance. However, the ending of this scene is such a
ridiculous one that it manifests itself a mock of the history of World War II. Furthermore, the ending that every
character bursts into laughter and lifts up the stuntman reminds me of a carnival-like scene which displays the ritual
crowning and decrowning of a mock king in Bakhtinian theory. Moreover, in such kind of carnivalization, people
of a community express both theri sense of being victims of power and their own power to subvert institutions and
authority through the medium of the grotesque. Therefore, in my own view, this carnival-like scene where those
multi-voiced people seem to engage in an act of de-crowning by laughing at and lifting up the stuntman may
suggest a rebellion against any authoritative version of history.
In addition, the graveyard scene is also a parody of the history of Vietnam War. The mourning for the dead who are
the victims of Vietnam War should be imbuded with sorrow, tears, or bouquets of flowers. However, with the
presence of the Victorian decoration on which two copper-made naked lovers swing back and forth and engage in
sexual intercourse, the graveyard scene becomes quite absurd. The writer's suggestion of replacing a bouquet of
flowers with the Victorian decoration creates a mocking effect on the old lady's mourning for the dead after war adn
breaks the boundary between reality and fiction. The people who stand near the gravestone where the old lady cries
miserably and laugh at the Victorian decoration with a nasty love-making couple seem to mock at the absurdity of
war which victimizes many innocent lives to reach certain political purposes of some national leaders but actually
ends with nothingness. Moreover, these people gazing at the old lady and the ridiculous Victorian decoration in the
graveyard eventually become we audience because we also laugh at that nasty device; therefore, the boundary
between reality adn fiction no longer exists.
Although Stuntman exhibits a postmodernist parody of war history and boundary-crossing between reality and
fiction, I do not think it is completely a postmodern film because it still asserts a God-like position of the author in
the embodiment of the director in the film. Throughout the film, we can see the director, played by Peter Otto, sit
high above either in the helicopter or in the machine which can fly up and down like God high above the sky.
Moreover, the director is like ominpresent God because he often unexpectedly appears by the side of the stuntman.
Furthermore, he is like omnipotent God who manipulates every act of human beings and foresees the future.
Therefore, we can see the stuntman and Lina fails to escape because the director has foreknown their escape.
Moreover, characters are not allowed to write their own ending for the story; everything is under control of the
author. Consequently, when the stuntman intends to change the ending of the film by driving the Benz away with
Lina, the car still falls into the water as the director arranges. Therefore, in my viewpoint, the director, who assumes
the position of the author for the story, still represents the absolute power and manipulates everything in the fiction.