On the road of sucess”Bagdad café”

We are going to talk about Percy Adlon,who is a German director.He became famous thanks to his film “Bagdad café”.                                                                                                                 Indeed Bagdad cafe is a must see.The film had great success in France,more than 2 300 000 spectators.It won a “cesar” for the best foreign film.                                                                            It tells the story of a world where cultural boundaries don’t exist.                                                  The story takes place in the United States, not far from Las Vegas. After an argument with her husband Jasmin a Bavarian woman finds herself alone in the Nevada’s desert. She struggles to drag her heavy suitcase,and reaches the “Bagdad café”,which is a modest motel and a service station. The owner is a strong-wild, black woman named Brenda. She’s fighting to preserve her coffee shop. But Brenda is cold with Jasmen, even though Jasmin was ready to help her.                                                                                                                          The film shows real settings like the “Bagdad café” which is located in California on the side of route 66. The road is also an important fact because it is the mother road, which has shown the way for migrant families during the great depression.                                    First it doesn’t show a favorable vision of the USA because it’s not in keeping with the luxuriousness of the country.Indeed the black,the elderly and foreigners are excluded from the system. All of this has inevitably attracted the Europeans, greedy to break the myth of the American dream.

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On the road: “Little Miss Sunshine”

It’s well known that the road has always been a recurrent theme in the American Culture and a big inspiration for movies, songs, paintings etc. They usually show the different facets and functions of the road and its importance in American History.

Little Miss Sunshine is a movie produced by Jonathan Deyton and Valerie Faris released in 2006. The movie is about a little girl, Olive Hoover, who is invited to a beauty pageant, the “Little Miss Sunshine”, set in California. The family from Albuquerque, New Mexico, is very tensed but to help Olive achieve her dream, the Hoovers decide to pack their things up in the Volkswagen minivan and hit the road for a three-day road trip.

In this movie the road is the path Olive’s dream, it’s the only way to help her achieve her dream to be a beauty queen.

Indeed the theme of the road is very present in the movie. The trip lasts three days, and in this short amount of time we can find the typical symbols of the road trip in the United-States such as the Volkswagen minivan, the lonely road crossing the desert with the high mountains in the background, the restaurants and/or fast-foods and service stations on the side of the road where the characters take a break from the long trip.

In Little Miss Sunshine the trip can also be seen as initiatory because the family faces some hard times in terms of communication and understanding each other, their time spent on the road is a way for them to reconnect. But it’s also  a way for the members of the family to understand and find who they really are. It even transforms them, for exemple the son ends his mutism, the uncle who was suicidal regains an interest in life.

The road has quite a big role in this movie but in a subtle way. It shows us two aspects of it; the first being the mean to reach a goal. The other aspect is a bit more spiritual since thanks to this trip, it helps the characters discover and find who they are.

This movie could also be related to the migrants from the Dust Bowls and The Great Depression who hit the road for months during that time to join California and felt desillusion. Indeed they, and especially Olive, felt desillusioned because California was seen as a paradise and whey they arrived, they found anything but it. They were rejected.

 

Born to be wild

Born to be wild by Steppenwolf is a music written in 1968 by Mars Bonfire. This music belongs to American culture and was used in the film Easy Rider. It’s a Hard rock music we hear lots of electric guitar in this song.

This song represents road because, there are lots of references about motorbikes for example *Get your motor runnin* *Racin with the wind* *I like smoke and lighting* *Heavy metal thunder*. It also represents the road *Head out on the highway* *And whatever comes our way yeah Darlin go make it happen*.

Liberty is the main theme, hit the road and being free to move everywhere, to experiment adventures and travel are the most important points in this song *Looking for adventure and whatever comes our way yeah Darlin’ go make it happen take the world in a love embrace like a true nature’s childs we were born, born to be wild we can climb so high I never wanna die Born to be wild* x2

The video clip shows two friends who are travelling on Route 66 on Harley Davidsons, one man wear a cowboy outfit and the other one with the American flag on his clothes. They are driving fast and without helmets it shows the danger of the road if you are wild.

The way to peace

From the 15th August to the 19th August 1969, famous artists like Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix or Joan Baez made a show at the biggest and the most peaceful festival which ever took place: Woodstock. Because the real hippie’s city was at the opposite of the country, people hit the road from San Francisco, California to Bethel, New-York. According to statistics, half of the Californian population made the trip until Bethel to take part in Woodstock, the hippie festival. The arrival in the state of New-York was really impressive: it was like a tidal wave!!! The shortest journey from San Francisco to Bethel was 2884 miles and lasted 42 hours. But people obviously prefered to cross over Route 66. It would take longer but there were more people on that road because of their ideas. Their aim was to live a weekend in accordance with their values and the symbol of route 66 was an ideal for them.We can say that the road was a kind of “climax” for Americana and the American Dream. Woodstock will probably stay in all the memories but the spirit of that festival of peace was transported all over the country thanks to roads and particularly Route 66.

Into The Wild

The idea of the road is one of the most powerful symbols of the American identity. Indeed, Americans have built the road into a symbol of hope and adventure. Today the ideas of freedom and independence related to the road are part of the American culture as much as they were in the pioneer era .

However, the road is a very paradoxical concept as it can be synonymous with both home and opportunity, comfort and hardship, the known and the unknown.

The theme of the road has inspired many artists. Indeed, the myth has been reinvented in movies, books, songs…

To illustrate that solitude and independence is what drives people along the road, I chose to talk about the movie “Into The Wild” by Sean Penn, released in 2007. It is based on the true story of Christopher McCandless. After graduating from university, this 22 year-old-man chooses to give up on a bright future ahead of him and turns his back on society. McCandless leaves everything behind him and hits the road in order to be free and to stay out of the consumer society. To him, the quest of happiness implies solitude and independence: he describes his odyssey as the search of the ultimate freedom. He wishes to live alone in a world where the only laws he has to follow are those of nature. The young man is going to discover Arizona, California, Dakota, Colorado on his way to Alaska where he will settle down in an abandoned bus, among snow-capped mountains. There, McCandless finds the spiritual peace and harmony he has been looking for. Months passing by, life gets harder as he runs out of food and he realizes that nature can be harsh. Unfortunately, McCandless ends up eating toxic roots and poisons himself in the old bus.

 

To my mind, “Into the wild” is very much related to the theme of the road as the hero’s trip takes a major part in the movie. We see him go from state to state, experiencing new things, meeting new people, taking risks… He leaves home, his comfort, what is known and familiar to him for the unknown, for unpredictable dangers and hardships. But what drives him along the road the whole time, is his dream of freedom, of a life which seems more enriching to him. Most of the time, people hit the road to break away from everyday life, in search of adventure, in order to find who they are.

Moreover, McCandless meets several people during his journey. They definitely shape his vision of the world and of life in general, and I think this is a very important aspect of “the road”: learning and growing as a human being. But hitting the road on our own can also be a disillusion, as it is for him when he finally understands that “Happiness only real when shared”.

 

As a conclusion we could say that this movie is the perfect example of the myth of the road being taken over by the artistic world. Indeed, this myth is part of America’s legacy ; a piece of their history, like the essence of the American spirit.

« Into the wild » Jon Krakauer The novel was written in 1996 by Jon Kraukauer. It is based on Christopher Mc candless’ life, an American adventurer. This man decided to change his own life : after he gratuated, he changed his name for Alexander Superstramp ! Alexander is for Alexander the Great, and his new name for who he really is. Christoph (or Alex) had a troubled childhood : his parents are always in conflict, he saw too many fights between his mother and his father. Alex is a different guy, he’s lonely and he does’t care about money and stupid stuff. He just want to move on and to leave the civilization to live the wild life. He cut contact with his parents and with everybody. He’s the « lonely boy ». He decided to start his trip without car : he’s a leather tramp. He had just a camera, a little bit of money and a gun. First of all, he met a truckdriver, who gave him a lift . The man is from south Dakota and he is an electrician. Alex tells him that he just want to leave out the land but the truckdriver think that Alex is just another disilusional vistor for Alaska. The driver gaves him rices, it ‘s quite symbolic, because the living conditions in Alaska are tough… the beginning of the book represents the beginning on the journey, it’s an autobiography. During the trip, he met a lot of people. The life of he gets his inspiration from the book that he read : Mark Twain and especially Jack London.. When he arrives in Alaska, he only eat raddix and plants because the living conditions are terrible. He’s courageous, but in July, few mounths after he arrived in Alaska, he had eaten poisonous plants and he dies alone in a old bus.. The road represents for him a way to escape from his meaningless life without bounce, and from his problem . He can also meet people. Alex is looking for an identity, so far away from the traditionnal life of a young brilliant student like him…

Cadillac Ranch, the “menhirs” of Road 66

    Road 66 has always been an important part of Americana. Loads of artists have decided to “illustrate” the spirit of the road. A lot of roadside attractions have been raised over the years: glorified in photographies, calendars, blogs, spotlighted in videos and films, instantly recognizable as icons. Many people say that “these Great Monuments” symbolise American hopes and dreams, art and commerce, materialism and spiritualism, folly and fame”.

 

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In 1974, Chip Lord, Hudson Marquez and Doug Michel, a group of art hippies called ” The Ant Farm” created the Cadillac Ranch, an amazing sculpture exposed in air along Road 66, West of Amarillo city. This roadside public art installation is a real distraction along the long, wavy and difficult “Mother Road”.

The cars (wrecks) are located approximatively every five meters along an east-west alignment, are half buried in the ground, the hood forward and almost vertical. Indeed, they are supposed to be tilted at the same angle as that of the Egyptian Pyramid of Cheops. These ten cars represent the evolution of Cadillac models from 1949 to 1963.

Nowadays, Cadillac Ranch is more popular than ever. It has become a ritual site for travelers hitting the Mother Road. The particularity of this attraction is that it’s an evolutive art; it never stops changing. Tourists can bring their spray paint and their camera and spray the cars for fun. The smell of spray paint hits you from a hundred yards away; the sound of voices chattering in French, German and English…makes this one of the most polyglot places. Cadillac Ranch seems to give its art-anarchists a sense of privacy and anonymity despite of its location in an empty field. Individual painters take a stance facing one of the  cars, then let it fly. Surrounding visitors keep their distance, perhaps less out of courtesy   than from a desire to stay clear of the spray cloud! Europeans really seem to enjoy attacking the cars during their visit, may be because they’ve lacked a good graffiti canvas since the toppling of the Berlin Wall…

Tourists are always welcome at Cadillac Ranch. If you bring a spraypaint, make sure to snap some photos. Because whatever you create at Cadillac Ranch, it will probably only last a few hours before it’s created over by someone else.