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Stranger Than Paradise (1984)

R | | Comedy, Drama | October 1984 (UK)
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A New Yorker's life is thrown into a tailspin when his younger cousin surprise visits him, starting a strange, unpredictable adventure.

Director:

Jim Jarmusch

Writer:

Jim Jarmusch
8 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
John Lurie ... Willie
Eszter Balint ... Eva
Richard Edson ... Eddie
Cecillia Stark Cecillia Stark ... Aunt Lotte
Danny Rosen Danny Rosen ... Billy
Rammellzee Rammellzee ... Man with Money
Tom DiCillo ... Airline Agent
Richard Boes Richard Boes ... Factory Worker
Rockets Redglare Rockets Redglare ... Poker Player
Harvey Perr Harvey Perr ... Poker Player
Brian J. Burchill Brian J. Burchill ... Poker Player
Sara Driver ... Girl with Hat
Paul Sloane Paul Sloane ... Motel Owner
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Storyline

A self-styled New York hipster is paid a surprise visit by his younger cousin from Budapest. From initial hostility and indifference a small degree of affection grows between the two. Along with a friend, they eventually end up visiting their aunt in the wastelands of Cleveland and then proceed to Florida where they lose all their money gambling before unwittingly gaining a fortune. Written by J.Arnold Free <arnold@mayahtt.ca> and Brian McInnis

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA | West Germany

Language:

English | Hungarian | Italian

Release Date:

October 1984 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Extraños en el paraíso See more »

Filming Locations:

USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$90,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$2,436,000

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$2,436,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The whole film is sequence shots with live sound - editing consisted simply of putting them end to end. See more »

Goofs

When Eva returns to the motel room to write Eddie and Willie a note she is leaving, she deposits her hat on clothing on the pullout bed by the window. She leaves. When the men return from the races to find the note, the money, and the hat, there are no rumpled clothes on the bed; just the hat. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Willie: Yeah.
Aunt Lotte: [speaks indistinctly in Hungarian]
Willie: Oh, hello, Aunt Lotte.
Aunt Lotte: [replies indistinctly in Hungarian throughout conversation]
Willie: Don't speak to me in Hungarian, please. No, I haven't heard from him, not for ten years. Yeah, I got your letter. Speak English, please! Yeah, my little cousin Eva. Yeah, I know, she's come - coming here and she's gonna stay overnight, when's she coming? Today? Straight from Budapest today? Ah, no. No, I never agreed to that. I can't possibly babysit for her for...
[...]
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Charlie Rose: Quentin Tarantino (1994) See more »

Soundtracks

I Put a Spell on You
Written by Screamin' Jay Hawkins (as Jay Hawkins)
Used by permission of CBS Unart Catalog, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.
Performed by Screamin' Jay Hawkins
Courtesy of CBS Records
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Still good after all these years
3 December 2005 | by romper-2See all my reviews

I just finished watching Stranger Than Paradise on DVD - the first time I'd seen it since its year of release. I'd always recalled the film with fondness, although I could never remember why I liked it. Several years after seeing the movie I came across the John Lurie soundtrack and bought it without stopping to listen, and been slightly taken aback by it. The haunting pieces were more emotionally esoteric than I expected, and it took some time for the album to grow on me.

Seeing the movie again, I understand why. The only piece of popular music in the film is Screamin' Jay Hawkin's "I Put a Spell on You" and, although I had forgotten that it was there, I guess that I had expected the soundtrack to be more like those of mainstream movies and have songs and such-like. I think that Lurie's music is perfect in situ and, as I've said, the soundtrack has also grown on me as standalone pieces.

The movie itself is a masterpiece. The black and white images present a starkness and a clarity that heightens the alienation of self in a land that was supposed to be the new hope for immigrants from a decaying old world. Instead we see Eva walking through a deserted ghost world of New York where the graffiti says "Yankee go home". America is only a dream, a collective vision of a better world; paradise somewhere on earth.

As Willie and Eddie journey west after winning some money, we see that the supposedly beautiful city of Cleveland is cold and desolate with a frozen lake. The further trip to Florida ends in the middle of nowhere next to a bleak and windswept ocean. Paradise is still somewhere out of reach. I think that's why the movie appeals to me. It shows that the America of popular mythology - the home of the brave, land of the free, protector of the downtrodden, guardian of democracy in the free world - is merely a construct. Too many people these days believe in the child's fantasy of America being some paradise that Iraq and Afghanistan should emulate. Jarmusch reminds us that it is people who give meaning to a symbol, not the other way around. He allows for the ability of people to make their own meanings and evolve beyond the stagnation of popular culture.

At a time I originally saw this movie I had recently left home and got my first job, moving from the country to the city, and maybe to some extent I identified with Eva - moving from Budapest to America. It was also my first taste of grownup film, if I recall correctly, and confirmed me with a lifelong fascination with the cinema. I have a lot to thank Jim Jarmusch for.


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