The Morally Suffering Body In The Film "Stranger In Paradise"

“They were more visible to the state and to the public in their suffering and thus less visible as political actors, both in the sense of a threatening or potentially liberatory mass and as individuals with pasts and futures- individuals who imagine and desire”. This quote really struck me when I was reading the book this weekend as I think it ties in together really well with the movie Stranger in Paradise.

One of the key themes outlined in the book was the morally legitimate suffering body. The book defines it as a figure of universal suffering that is a political device to create a caring condition. Bare life is not taken in account, but rather the political and social attributes accompanied by this. Thus, one could say that biological life is fundamentally political and only applies to certain individuals. “Understanding that the suffering body is always produced by and a part of social and historical contexts gives us a place from which to ask when and for whom the body becomes the primary form of access to universal personhood”.

Dhaenens discloses to the people from nations including Syria, Afghanistan, Mali, Somalia and Ivory Coast about the monetary weight they will put on European culture and how they are impossible ever to incorporate should they prevail with regards to picking up an allowance of living arrangement, given that 55 percent of African transients will never work in Europe. "Go home and construct your own welfare state," he tells the cheerful, hopeful individuals trying to enter the country. "We don't need you."

There is a lot of structural violence shown in this film. Us Europeans are shown to put us and the refugees in a certain hierarchy and thus look down upon the ones seeking shelter in our country, who have just fled their war-stricken homes. We are thus seeking a different structure that is unfair to those who do not fit into this structure and therefore our viewpoint on a situation such as that of refugees. In Act 2, he channels an alternate mentality, recognizing both their dauntlessness in taking a chance with their lives – 3371 individuals passed away whilst on their journey over the Mediterranean in 2015 alone – and how the old world, the Europeans who are "born rich", owe a lot of their favorable luck to their pioneer past.

A touch of strength for the benefit of Europe, he proposes, and the issue could be managed. The refugees assist the actor with the maths. Here again we see the structural violence of this film. The actor tells them that Europeans are born superior and even though this is already a different mentality, he is still very stuck in his structure and thus stopping the society of refugees from reaching their full potential. The limited space connotes a jail these individuals ended up in, caught on an island, far from local people, without any choices to coordinate and with their whole lives in hands of Europe that can either give them a tranquil future, or send them once more into war and destitution.

Shot in a nearly Dogma 95 style, Stranger in Paradise gives us a feeling of finish credibility, and we nearly get ourselves overlooking that what we are viewing is a section genuine, part scripted political theater. It is a play in three acts that examines the power relations between Europe's pitiless bureaucratic components and the evacuees who battle to grasp the unsympathetic treatment they wind up submitted to. However this intermezzo between the acts isn't there for us to reflect or get the bits of our smashed European heart. Each picture has a Roman landmark in it, a sanctuary of a civilisation long dead and gone, flagging our way of life's slow death.

The message is clear: Europe as we was already aware it is going into disrepair, and it is on us to choose how to modify the remnants. This may subconsciously be slow violence that we are subjecting ourselves to. By not being inclusive and subjecting these refugees to such cold treatment, we are not aware that even our culture is slowly decaying, which reminded me of Nixon’s definition for slow violence as takes time to show its consequences.

18 May 2020
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