A critical analysis of Withnail and I

FINAL Undertaking: Case Study


The undermentioned instance survey is a treatment of how the 1987 cult movie ”Withnail and I ” by Bruce Robinson can be analysed under the narrative theories of Roland Barthes and Mikhail Bakhtin. In relation to ”Withnail and I ” one can look at Barthes surveies of ”Mise-en Scene ” , or ”Putting into scene ” . His theories look at how image in movie entirely helps the storytelling. Set design, lighting, costumes all aid make the scene. In relation to Mikhail Bahktin there is treatment of his theory of the ”Chronotope ” , literally intending time/space. Bakhtin uses it in his treatments as a measuring for analyzing text harmonizing to the nature of the temporal and geographical classs presented in them.The text can besides be analyzed under Bakhtin ‘s theory on the ‘Carnivalesque ‘ and ‘Polyphony ‘ . Carnivalesque relates to humor and chaos found in texts. Polyphony is the harmoniousness of different voices presented in texts.

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“Withnail and I” is a black comedy set in 1969. It tells the narrative of two friends, both down on life unemployed histrions, the nameless storyteller ‘’I’’ ( named Marwood in the book ) played by Paul McGann and his showy alcoholic friend ‘’Withnail’ ’played by Richard E. Grant. The movie takes a additive signifier get downing with the two life in a seamy Georgian flat in London. Having resorted to imbibe and drugs the two decide to take a trip to the countryside to ‘’rejuvenate’’ and get away their drab lives for a twosome of yearss. This kickstarts a huffy concatenation of events including tally Immigration and Naturalization Services with husbandmans and efforts to get away Withnail ‘s bizarre homosexual uncle Monty ( Richard Griffiths ) . The movie is an amusive narrative of drink, drugs and friendly relationship, stoping on a melancholy note when our supporters are forced to part-ways.

In his surveies Roland Barthe looked in peculiar at symbols. In Barthe ‘s ‘Mythologies ‘ he looks at the Eiffel Tower, researching it as a symbol. He shows how with really small the tower creates its ain narrative. He recognises it as a symbol of France.He discusses how people put different significances onto the Tower, which take up different associations and intensions, the memorial itself going strictly inactive. Itself remains nil, however the empty memorial receives twice every bit many visitants each twelvemonth than the Louvre.

In comparing we have our movie scene of Camden Town. Camden is a territory of interior metropolis London which has its ain different associations and intensions. It has been known since its being to be place to middle and lower category. Camden is good known for its street market, one of the locations in the movie. One can conceive of the characters swiping nutrient from the stables in Camden or the drug trader ‘Danny ‘ trying to sell some of his goods at that place. For many old ages, Camden, has been a hub for alternate civilization, doing it the perfect representational location for the occupants of our supporters. Known for its punks and flower peoples, it has ever been a really relaxed portion of London, with strong associations with drug-dealing.

Appropriately the beautiful, relaxed Camden Regents Park is seen during the movies decision, when Withnail and I part-ways. The simpleness and composure here may be seen as stand foring the beauty of their relationship contrasting the dark plodding which is their lives. However, the park is quiet and it ‘s raining, a strong symbolic indicant of the solitariness and despair of Withnail ‘s life. His hapless psychological province is clearly signified through this imagination.

The significance of the site in the text can besides be seen in relation to Bakhtin ‘s theory on the Chronotope. It presents the thought the certain events and results of a text are a consequence of when/where they are go oning. The metropolis of 1960 ‘s London is busy and crowded, their level is cluttered.It is a clip drug trader Danny refers to as “ the greatest decennary in the history of world ” is coming to an terminal, saying that now ”hippie wigs ” can be bought in Woolworths. In Camden the brace do nil but drink. Camden has easy-going attitudes to alcohol and drugs, it is an epoch of rebellion and large societal issues such as the Vietnam War. In comparing, the countryside is clear and huge, stand foring the lucidity and escape of the countryside for the work forces. In the state they are forced to make things such as build a fire, happen fuel/food and cook.In London the two ca n’t get away the muss their lives are in. Although they have a black clip in the state, returning place is a cheerless world, particularly for Withnail. The route is signifier for the different provinces in their lives. Other locations are important to the narrative such as Uncle Monty’s parlour. ‘Withnail and I ‘ besides presents attitudes to wealth and poverty from the era.There is the homophobic attitudes presented in the text in context with the clip and civilization.

Bakhtin ‘s theory of Carnivalesque can besides be understood. ‘ Withnail and ‘I is an intelligent and witty movie, with the gags and temper taking off from the dissatisfactory, cheerless actuality of it. Serious issues are acted at in the movie in a humourous manner. Bahktin writes how carnivalesque relates back to folk civilization and temper. He discusses how wit was basically gotten from buffoons, giants and unusual characters. Folk celebrations were based around the carnival. It was seen as an flight from the usual manner of life.Carnival celebrations were about lampoons, a reversal of order. Folk festivities revolved around rejection of the universe of thoughts. Bakhtin notes how without ideals there would be no reaction to them, there would be no celebration. This is true of ‘Withnail and I ‘ . Both Withnail and I and uncorformists. Their excessive manner of life is flooring and diverting to the audience. Withnail and I do n’t care for the effects of their imbibing and drugs. The audience acquire amusement from seeing Withnail and I struggle. Bakhtin notes besides how the carnivalesque traditions involved the usage of informal or rough linguistic communication. This is true of ‘Withnail and I ‘ , an illustration being when Withnail shouts ”Scrubbers! ”out the window of their auto to go throughing school misss.

In contrast the two characters can besides be found utilizing poetic and flowery language.Bakhtin position of heteroglossia can be applied here. Amidst the pandemonium and sloppiness and ‘’Withnail and I’s’’ actions there are two gifted and intelligent characters. They are good educated and well-spoken although frequently assorted up from intoxicant. Theatre and literature play rather a large function in the text. ”I ” writes and Withnail recites poesy, such as the monologue from Hamlet at the terminal. Withnail feels he is excessively good for the life he has gotten himself in. ‘I’m a trained histrion reduced to the position of a rotter. ” This besides considers Bakhtin ‘s construct of unfinalizability. Withnail and I are confounding characters ; they have a privation to be different. In the terminal of the movie I ‘s life is altering as he gets a nice moving occupation. He cuts his hair, and is traveling off, go forthing Withnail buttocks.

‘‘We’ve gone on vacation by mistake’’ Withnail and I are non holding a really nice trip to the countryside.

In decision a reader may now acknowledge that there are many elements that make up the film that is ‘Withnail and I ‘ . Simply one can look Barthes surveies in “ Rhetoric of the Image ” .Where he tries to analyze and understand the messages that images contain. Barthe dicusses a ”Panzini ” pasta advertizement which he breaks down into two theoretical differentiations: intension and indication, the images actual significance. or the connotative of significances the image brings the spectator.

This is is applied to every item from the costumes and expression of our characters, Withnail ‘s suit and umbrella and I ‘s leather jacket, absolutely done Grey, sick looking do up and unkempt 1960ss hair to the books ‘I ‘ reads including a Rebours and David Copperfield.A rebours ; about a extremely bizarre antihero, aesthete and hermit, disconnected immature adult male, bears similarities to Withnails character. “I” packing these novels in the movie was a deliberate but elusive effort by Robinson to motivate the audience into a farther probe of these plants.

The mussy flat with it ‘s scattered apparels, dishes and intoxicant bottles ; The old worn down Jaguar with it ‘s busted visible radiations and faded coloring material ; and the conditions which is frequently gray and cloud-covered, illuming shadowdy. Music from the movie besides helps to put the clip period with its late 60 ‘s stone subjects from the likes of Jimi Hendrix and The Beatles. Besides observing that Richard E. Grant lost a considerable sum of weight in order to play the function of Withnail are all cases of Rhetoric of the Image. ”

Bahtktins plants on the other manus have helped us to interrupt down and organize a deeper analysis of the issues presented in the movie.

each component leads to a authoritative cult movie which may be loved or hated by many but either manner will be remember from old ages to come, that is the movie which is ‘Withnail andI ” .

One of the first scenes in ‘Withnail and I’ is an illustration of Rhetoric of the Image. ‘I’ sits in a cafe . All around him people look bored and depressed. I looks aghast as he reads newspaper articles reading ”I had to go a adult female ” and ”Nude Au Pairs Secret life ” He looks over at an old adult female eating a sloppy, dripping fried egg sandwich. He thinks about the cheerless province ‘London ‘ is in, every bit good as Withnails life. ”I must travel place at one time and discourse his jobs in deepness. ”


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