Representations of madness in the cinema: Three contemporary cases
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The aim of this thesis is to develop a better understanding of how madness is depicted in contemporary Hollywood films. Specifically, it discusses what shapes the depiction of madness, how and why it differs from reality, how then it is communicated to the audience and to what purpose it serves as a plot element. In the first part is dedicated to outline the theoretical background, method and goals of this thesis. Next three chapters each are dedicated to in depth discussion of the three movies that were chosen for this paper: Me, Myself and Irene (2000), Bug (2006) and Shutter Island (2010). Finally in Findings chapter common traits of depiction that are found in all three movies are compared and examined. In conclusion, the thesis demonstrates that there exist a lot of culturally and historically defined expectations and influences that shape a depiction of madness, for which a modern medical knowledge plays just a small and superficial role. Those influences differ from film to film but common mechanisms that transcend a specific film and even genre exist to communicate madness as a form of Otherness. Finally the study argues that the element of madness in movies is often used not to communicate a deeper understanding of a real life mental illness but to communicate ideas about social order, right and wrong and to make a point about what is not madness. Although this paper examines only three particular cases, nonetheless those findings can be used as a stepping stone for a further research and for facilitating a fruitful discussion between cinema professionals, people connected to the mental health issues and the film audience.