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  • Writer's pictureBen Anstruther

Inspiration #2

Today I’m just going to cover some more of the material that has inspired this film. I’ve covered my personal knowledge/experiences which is where I got the idea from and the workplace television serials which are very dear to me.

 

Surrealist Workplace Dramas

This is a very interesting sub-genre of films and while my film does have an impotence on realism, these films explore the same themes that I hope to but in funny, satirical, absurd, perplexing and sometimes even scary ways. These are films about individuals trying to overcome an oppressive system similar to Nina the central character in Roll.

 

The Double

I mention this previously but only in relation to its visuals and aesthetics. I love this film – not quite as much as Submarine – and it’s extremely underrated. Like of all the films I am going to mention, this has a really maddening atmosphere. It’s claustrophobic, there is no natural light, the office equipment is constantly malfunctioning. This combined with the winding narrative and deadpan performances makes just a wonderful watch.

 

Brazil

The film that I’m sure was a significant point of reference for Richard Ayoade in getting The Double made, Brazil obviously is a classic film and I don’t how much I can really say about it. It’s the best film in this category and as a massive Monty Python fan it’s great to Michael Palin in such an amazing role and of course Terry Gilliam writing and directing. The production design of the offices is just mind-blowingly good.

 

The Twelve Tasks of Asterix

Left field choice I know but as a massive Asterix fan I very happy to include it. In the story/film adaptation, one of the tasks Asterix and Obelix have to undertake is to retrieve Permit 838 in what should be a simple administrative procedure. It turns out to be much more difficult than that as the two heroes are set on a seemingly never-ending wild goose chase being deliberately diverted by the workers. It’s an amazing set piece which really is quite enervating to watch. Highly recommended.

 

Barton Fink

Slightly different choice is here as it’s not set in the land of labyrinthine bureaucracy but there is a strong connection between Barton Fink and the central character Nina, both feel trapped and feel like they are working without a cause. Also the lighting and cinematography is similar to what I envision particularly with the scenes inside his hotel room.

 

Khrustalyov, Me Car!

Now time to talk about my dissertation film and also the film I showed to the class when introducing my idea at the start of the module. This is one of my absolute favourite films in the whole world. It is absolutely mental in terms of ideas, character, writing, narrative structure etc. Set at the end of Stalin’s regime, the story follows a military man turned brain surgeon who gets entangled in a conspiracy culminating in his arrest and exile. Amazingly funny and also includes some of the best tracking shots I have ever seen. A great example of pure satire too.

 

The Trial

Finally The Trial and this both the original novel and Orson Welles adaptation which I think is really quite great. I love the concept of a man being arrested without being told what the charge is and way the story goes and concludes is I think really marvellous. Anthony Perkins is amazing as Joseph K and Orson Welles captured the madness of the original source really well. The opening scene is so well realised and written and the scene with the children is so disturbing.


Kafka in general has been a big influence over me, in fact I had considered either doing a section of The Trial or an adaptation of his short story, The Hunger Artist, for my graduation project. Haven’t read most of his short stories, I tried to incorporate Kafkaesque elements into my script which I think I have managed to do. In my next post I will discuss fully the evolution of my idea.


Kafkaesque Story Elements:

Main characters are often office workers, the modern workplace, the ordeal becoming so illogical that success is an irrelevance, systems of arbitrary power, authoritarian and internal struggles, increasingly complex administration procedures, tragicomedy, a critique of judicial/bureaucratic/capitalistic structures and no matter what happens the characters never give up.

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