The last article in our series on the film Cosmopolis
The film Cosmopolis opens in U.S. theaters on Friday August 17th, 2012. The seductive trailers and amazing cast is reason enough to go see this film. But throw in David Cronenberg and Don DeLillo and you are in for a mind altering experience out of this world. However, for those venturing into the theaters without having read the book or seen any of Cronenberg’s films, Linked in Hollywood has put together a cheat sheet in case you want to brush up before or after seeing the film. To give you fair warning this material like the film is not for the PG-13 fairytale audience, instead it’s for the spirited audience, unafraid to confront the reality we live in. This article is a collaborative effort by the authors on LIH who did a wonderful job in defining (for our readers) how this film and text reflects our past and present. We hope you enjoy!
Cosmopolis: The Past Mirrors the Present
In the film protesters are taking over New York City. For the sake of not spoiling the film we selected a similar protest taking place today. In Zucotti Park in New York’s financial district was the place where the first Occupy Movement began on September, 17, 2011. The people gathered to protest the greed of corporations, social inequality and the power of banks and corporations over the democratic process. The Occupy Movement does not have a leadership structure which makes it difficult for any of the protesters to ask for aid from State Legislature and Congress.
The Poetry in Cosmopolis
Eric Packer loves poetry and recites part of this poem in the film. Zbiginiew Herbert, a renowned poet, was born on October 29, 1924 in Lvov, Poland (now the Ukraine). With a Masters in Economics, from the University of Krakow, he spent most of the 1950s working low paying jobs because of his distaste and refusal to work within the Communist guidelines. Herbert is well known for his poems, particularly Report from the Besieged City. The poem is symbolic of the ethical issues his nation suffered under martial law. 
Reciting of Report from the Besieged City
Postmodern Art/Spencer Tunick
By Ozzie 20
Towards the end of the book Eric takes part in a large scale naked photo shoot (also known as human installation). The artist is not mentioned but the best known artist of the genre in the world is Spencer Tunick. His career in naked photo shoots began in the mid 90’s in New York. At first these events had to be secretive and quick in order to avoid the police (Spencer has been arrested five times) but now that his work is well known, he has a little more time to perfect his shoot. His first large scale human installation was in 1994 with 28 naked people in front of the United Nations building in Manhattan. His largest to date took place in the main square (Zocalo) in Mexico City which featured about 18,000 naked people. Spencer’s aim is to highlight the contrasting nature between humans and their environment. Often the location is important and has a symbolic meaning and enhances the contrast.
Cosmopolis: Music in a Postmodern Era
By Comic Relief
In Jonathan D. Kramer’s “Postmodern Concepts of Musical Time” for the “Indiana Theory Review Vol. 17/2” he describes postmodern music as having one or more of the attributes listed below. Like Postmodern art and literature, Postmodernist music may embrace modernist music as frequently as it rejects it. For these reasons we may also have a recipe for all those attributes that would be a, by reverse definition, description of modernist music. Kramer claims that music may be judged Postmodernist by these characteristics
- “Is not simply a repudiation of modernism or its continuation, but has aspects of both;
- Is, on some level and in some way, ironic;
- Does not respect boundaries between sonorities and procedures of the past and of the present;
- Seeks to break down barriers between “highbrow” and “lowbrow” styles;
- Shows disdain for the often unquestioned value of structural unity;
- Refuses to accept the distinction between elitist and populist values;
- Avoids totalizing forms (e.g., does not allow an entire piece to be tonal or serial or cast in a prescribed formal mold);
- Includes quotations of or references to music of many traditions and cultures;
- Embraces contradictions;
- Distrust binary oppositions;
- includes fragmentations and discontinuities;
- Encompasses pluralism and eclecticism;
- present multiple meanings and multiple temporalities;
- Locates meaning and even structure in listeners, more than in scores, performances, or composers. “
Please evaluate the following music samples from the Cosmopolis soundtrack through a lens of these characteristics. Do you believe these music examples pass the test and if not do they at least describe scenes or concerns from the book in a musical manner? If you think so you would probably be appreciating the work of David Cronenberg and the attributed musicians. Though not always similar to Kramer’s list Howe Records described most of the music this way, it is: “an atmospheric, urban soundscape of analog synths and layered guitars featuring the hypnotic vocals of METRIC lead singer Emily Haines.” Indiewire provided the creator to product attributions.
Cosmopolis (2012) – Long to Live by Metric
Cosmopolis (2012) – White Limos by Howard Shore
Cosmopolis (2012) – Benno by Howard Shore
In terms of music the book only discussed two characters that were music industry participants: Kosmo Thomas and Brother Fez. The former was a producer and the other was a rapper, you should decide whether you think one or the other has a factual or completely fictional correlation in the real world. To confuse that issue Don DeLillo actually contributes lyrics for rapper K’naan’s vocal performance for the album, METRIC accompanies instrumentally. Do you believe this K’naan performance meets Kramer’s or your own definition of a postmodern music?
Cosmopolis (2012) Mecca by K’naan & Don DeLillo