Six Ways of Looking at Anomalisa

  • Author(s): David L. Smith
  • When: 2016-10
  • Where: Journal of Religion & Film
  • Anomalisa is a parable about the nature of human fulfilment that explores the tension between other-worldly desire (the conviction that real life must be “elsewhere”) and the kind of fulfilment that comes from a more transparent relationship to things as they are. The film explores this religious theme not only through its story, but through the way the story comments on its own embodiment as a puppet show—a work of stop-motion animation. In this paper, I try to tease out the film’s complex reflections on the real and the artificial (in particular, on the ways that a desire for “the real” can distract us from the actual world) by considering it from a number of angles: in relation to Charlie Kaufman’s other works; in relation to some of Kaufman’s statements about the purposes of his art; and in relation to some ideas from Nietzsche and religious nondualism about what is left to us once “the real” has lost its special status.

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