Equally normal : contemporary filmic representations of a madness that functions
Chua, Ivy Chin Ing
Date of Issue2018
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Although numerous scholars discuss the fine line between madness and genius, little has been said about the functionality of madness, where being mad plays a part in or even catalyses an individual’s progression within society. This aspect of functionality within madness may be seen through, although not limited to, the archetypal mad genius. Furthermore, although contemporary films begin to depict the mad in an increasingly positive light, madness still exists as a stigma within society. The madman is still commonly seen as a lesser being, an Other that is limited in his/her ability to function or progress. This dissertation thus attempts to excavate past notions of madness and compare them with contemporary filmic representations of madness. The latter aims to highlight the functionality of madness and explore the audience’s fluid perceptions of sanity and insanity as a non-binary relation. As the portrayal of reason and unreason fluctuates within contemporary films, viewers are led to question the oppositional relation between madness and sanity, and consider a more fluid perception of what it means to be mad. This shifting representation and the notion of a false binary will be examined through the metaphor of a Möbius loop. Rain Man (1988), Shine (1996), and A Beautiful Mind (2001) dominate the discussion though other films may also make an appearance whenever appropriate.
Final Year Project (FYP)
Nanyang Technological University