Mythical Patterns and Ideology in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now

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university Mouloud Mammeri of Tizi-Ouzou


This dissertation investigates the mythic dimension of two films, Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now. Using Gérard Genette’s hypertextuality for a discussion of adaptation, Roland Barthes’s notion of ‘myth’ and Jean-François Lyotard’s concept of ‘metanarratives’ for the ideological contents of cultural production, and Joseph Campbell’s Monomyth for the protagonists’ ‘hero’s journey’, I will try to show how Stanley Kubrick and Francis Ford Coppola integrated myth to their work in order to promote postmodern ideas about civilization and knowledge, and highlight how they appropriated the texts, as they not only adapted but also expanded the source texts with allusions to myth and literature, and how the polysemiotic nature of film as a distinct art form helped them create works with polysemic content.T.S. Eliot used the term “mythic method” when reviewing James Joyce’s Ulysses. Myth is an important element in these two films. If the purpose of the modernist author is to “order” his/her work by use of mythic subtexts or intertexts, I will argue that in the postmodernist variation it is used, possibly, to “disorder” the narrative, and by that I mean that it makes the final work ambiguous to interpret. The following dissertation is divided into three chapters. I want ot find out why the mythical paradigms of ancient myth were used in these two films. These are films that are loosely based on The Sentinel and Heart of Darkness respectively. The aesthetic style of the films can be said to be postmodernist, but could they be using a modernist ‘method’ when they incorporate myth? There is also the problem of myth as ideology. Once a myth is transmitted from one person to another through one medium or another, it sends with it an ideological message. I will investigate whether the ideological messages of 2001: A Space Odyssey and Apocalypse Now are in accord with the dominant political views of their era, and how do they express their own ideas in relation to that.





Comparative Literature Presented by: Takfarinas Abdiouene Panel of