(Milos Forman, 1971)
“Cosmopolitan understandings in Milos Forman’s Taking Off.”
The cosmopolite for all of his or her unsettledness does at least learn about the larger world and may become more sensitive to cultural diversity than does the person who refuses to leave the hearth.” (E. Casey. 2001: 685)
To their parents’ total incomprehension, the young teenagers in Taking Off (Milos Forman, 1971) are poised to leave the hearth. Jeannie Tyne (Linnea Hancock), in particular, is a recidivist runaway whose desire to leave home is not understood by her parents any more than she can understand their insistence that she stay put.
Departures and arrivals fill this film’s frames and alert us to other journeys which provide the framework for understanding both sides point of view in this intergenerational battle. A recent émigré to the US after being exiled from Czechoslovakia, Taking Off was Forman’s first English-language film and his first to try and make sense of the culture, people and geography of his new homeland. Forman is not the only Central European hoping to understand America to be found in this film. Although he visited the US only in his imagination, Franz Kafka is also present: Forman used Kafka’s first novel, Amerika,as the basis for the film narrative.
This paper discusses how Taking Off’s children allow Forman to explore a fundamental cosmopolitan “willingness to make the effort to negotiate coexistence with actual others when there appears to be no common ground, only mutual incomprehension.” (J. Donald. 2007:299)
Associate Professor Jane Mills is presenting this film.
This film is being discussed by Professor James Donald.
Associate Professor Jane Mills, Ph.D is a Senior Research Fellow in the Journalism & Media Research Centre. Jane has a production background in journalism, television and documentary film, and has written and broadcast widely on cinema, media, screen literacy, censorship, feminism, sociolinguistics and human rights. Her current research projects concern screen literacy, cosmopolitanism, participatory media culture and geocriticism. She is the Series Editor of Australian Screen Classics (Currency Press/Australian Film & Sound Archive) and the author of 9 books the most recent being: Jedda (Currency Press /NFSA, 2012) and Loving and Hating Hollywood: Reframing Global and Local Cinemas (Allen & Unwin, 2009).
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