The Debt of Roy Anderson’s Dark Humor to Samuel Beckett and the New Objectivity

Conference: The European Conference on Media, Communication & Film (EuroMedia2021)
Title: The Debt of Roy Anderson’s Dark Humor to Samuel Beckett and the New Objectivity
Stream: Film Criticism and Theory
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation
Simin Dolatkhah, University of Tehran, Iran


One of the main characteristics of Roy Anderson's movies is the dark humor and tragicomedy. Various art sources influence his dark humor, such as Samuel Beckett's oeuvres and New Objectivity paintings. Beckett's approach towards tragicomedy can be discerned in Andersson's world and his comic figures. Andersson emphasizes on human being’s dark side to create comic characters. Passivity is a significant, horrifying quality of modern subjects in his view, and it will be exploring in this paper. His similar figures, with their repetitive and deadpan manners, question the contemporary world's passive subjects. This study employs Henri Bergson's ideas in "Laughter: An Essay on the Meaning of the Comic" and Incongruity Theory to investigate humor in Andersson's movies. In addition, the importance of social and political context in Andersson’s works connects him to New Objectivity paintings. Two painters of this movement, George Grosz and Otto Dix, are mentioned here. The reason is that their caricature manner and specific attention to the body are similar to Andersson's works. This paper attempts to answer how Anderson establishes the comic tone of his movies and how his concerns and the aforementioned inspirations impact his aesthetic choices. The findings indicate that Andersson benefits from Beckett’s works and New Objectivity paintings to accentuate his critical approach to contemporary world issues. He uses comic devices, including similarity, repetition, and deadpan, to express his concerns. Andersson transforms all the influences from other artists into his unique way for his purposes.

Virtual Presentation

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