Yaffa Calev

Dissertation Abstract

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Abstract of Ph.D. Dissertation

Postmodernistic Elements

in the Cinema of Woody Allen

Yaffa Calev


Woody Allen’s cinematic work exhibits essential elements of the postmodernistic condition. It demonstrates the deconstruction of basic values of Western civilization, including deconstruction of human conscience and loss of confidence in human morality, deconstruction of the individual as the stronghold of ethical orientation, deconstruction of the trust in the ability of man to give meaning to his life, deconstruction of cultural hierarchies and openness to the multifaceted nature of culture, leading to respect for “the other”.


These elements of postmodernism are parallel to theoretical notions in the conceptual discourse and are fleshed out in Allen’s cinematic work in the playful juggling of meta-narratives in the spirit of Lyotard, in the analytical deconstruction of conventional moral values in the spirit of Derrida, in the simplistic simulation of human experience in the spirit of Baudrillard, in the undermining of any metaphysical aspiration of man and in the exhibition of a total surrender to pragmatic materialism, characteristic to the consumer society of late capitalism in the spirit of Jameson. The cinematic expression of these phenomena is quite different from their conceptual expression.


This postmodernistic sensibility affects specific aesthetic expressive practices, which are paradigmatically manifested in Allen’s cinematic creation. The examination of Allen’s films allows an analysis of specifically postmodernistic ways of expression. Their paradigmatic application in Allen’s works allows their clear definition and the pinpointing of their characteristic features, which can serve as critical tools for analyzing postmodernistic aesthetics in the cinematic medium at large. It allows as well a discovery of the correlation between the ethos of postmodernism and the aesthetics of cinematic that serves to flesh it out, between the expressive practices of the film medium and the postmodernistic sensibility that generates them. These postmodernistic expressive practices are: “Postmodernistic Intertextuality”, “Blurring of the limits between fiction and reality”, “Realization of Dialogism” …


Book based on this dissertation has been published in Hebrew:

Woody Allen in Postmodernistic Focus

Optimus Publishing, Tel-Aviv, 2010 (booknet)

(Translation in Progress)



Yaffa Calev