Road movie

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Road movie is the name of a film genre that emerged in the United States in the 1960s . The action takes place mainly on country roads and highways , the journey becomes a metaphor for the search for freedom and identity of the protagonists. The narrative effect of songs from pop and rock music is often used in these films .


Charles Chaplin, with his interpretation of the tramp who is always on the lookout for happiness, can be seen as a role model for the wandering characters in the road movie . Another origin of the road movies can be found in the Western , in which the contrasts between wilderness and civilization, between freedom and oppression have already been discussed in detail. In the 1950s, with films like Der Wilde (1953) , Marlon Brando became a symbol of a love of freedom that was paired with violence and social hatred. Kenneth Anger took up the motif of the motorcycle rocker in Scorpio Rising (1964) and connoted it less socially and more religiously. Anger was the first to use pop and rock music as a narrative medium.

Even Roger Corman took in his Exploitationfilmen the action world of motorcycle scene: In The Wild Angels (1966) he outlined in his story about the Hells Angels the lost, characterized by nihilism life of rockers on America's roads. Two years later, Corman's leading actor Peter Fonda, along with Dennis Hopper and Jack Nicholson, was the driving creative force behind Easy Rider , the prime example of the road movie. In addition to the excessive, reinforcing use of rock music, such as Born to Be Wild by the blues rock band Steppenwolf , director Hopper worked with unusual stylistic devices such as fading ahead and alienating colors. The motif of the means of transportation as a fetish , as established by Hopper, was included in other road movies such as Monte Hellman's Asphaltrennen (1971).

European filmmakers took up the subject in the 1970s and combined it with their own cinematic expression. Michelangelo Antonioni added his mannerist symbolic language to him in Zabriskie Point (1970); Wim Wenders combined it in Alice in the Cities (1974) and In the Course of Time (1976) with the wandering motif of the educational novel . In order to reach a wider audience, the standards and motifs of the road movie were mixed with other genres from the 1980s onwards, for example in comedies like On the Highway Hell Loses (1981) or We Can Also Be Different ... (1993), the horror film ( Near Dark , 1987) or the action film ( Mad Max , 1979).


The ground for the road movie was paved by literary works such as Jack Kerouac's Unterwegs and other books from the Beat Generation , which characterized a restless wandering as an expression of a modern lifestyle. The films are about the journey of their heroes and the difficulty of finding one's place in the world. Ultimately, the subliminal point is to find what the reference system of society embodies and holds together internally. A mirror is held up to her.

The road movie, which was made at the same time as New Hollywood in the USA, reflects a contemporary attitude towards life and, in addition to the actors, also conveys their ideals such as freedom and independence. The protagonists often stand outside the law as outlaws or unsuccessfully claim their rights from society. In road movies, the goal is usually the idealized projection of a construct created by the protagonist, which by definition remains unattainable.

The films therefore often end with the death of the main characters, for example in Vanishing Point San Francisco (1971), Badlands - Zerschossene Träume (1973), Sugarland Express (1974) or Thelma & Louise (1991). While violence was initially often romanticized in connection with the search for freedom, for example in Bonnie and Clyde (1967), the road movie became increasingly disillusioned in the 1990s, for example in the automatisms of violence in Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers (1994), which were freed from any justification. .


in fiction
  • Jara Rossenbach: The journey as an identity-building impulse in the Québec novel. Shaker, Aachen 2018 (Diss. Phil. TH Aachen ) The road movie in Francophone literature, 8 typical representatives

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Wiktionary: Roadmovie  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations