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June 30 , 2008

Constructing the Coens

From Blood Simple to Inside Llewyn Davis


The films of Ethan and Joel Coen have been embraced by mainstream audiences, but also have been subject to intense scrutiny by critics and cinema scholars. Movies such as Barton Fink, The Hudsucker Proxy, and Raising Arizona represent the filmmakers’ postmodern tendencies, a subject many academics have written about at length. But is it enough to reduce their features as expressions of postmodernism or are there other ways of viewing their work—not only their individual films but their entire output as a collective whole?

Constructing the Coens: From Blood Simple to Inside Llewyn Davis, Allen H. Redmon looks beyond the postmodern sensibilities of every film written and directed by the Coens to find an unexpected range of recurring ideas expressed in and about contemporary film. In this volume, Redmon tackles all of the films in the Coen brothers’ canon by examining—among other topics—narrative coherence in The Man Who Wasn’t There, intertextuality in No Country for Old Men, and sexuality in Burn after Reading and O Brother, Where Art Thou? Additional chapters look at their films through the prisms of gender studies, adaptation studies, and a constructivist sensibility weaved throughout their work.

Considering the whole of the Coens’ output, as well as many of the topics being discussed in contemporary film studies, this book challenges viewers to reexamine their initial responses to these movies. By engaging both the familiar and foreign elements in each film,
Constructing the Coens will appeal to fans of the brothers’ cinema, but also to students and scholars of film theory, adaptation studies, queer theory, and gender studies.
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