Jim Jarmusch- The unlikely king of Instagram

All images film-stills, courtesy of JIm Jarmusch All images film-stills, courtesy of JIm Jarmusch

Anyone who is familiar with the work of independent filmmaker Jim Jarmusch is by now well aware of his cryptic, poetically slow-paced approach to narrative that is often more in resemblance with existential manifesto than a traditional movie.
The inherent stillness of his pieces is elegantly centered around the mundane – where those in between moments anchoring to real life seem endlessly exotic. In 1986 Jane Shapiro wrote about Jarmusch’s breakthrough film ‘Stranger than Paradise’ in the 80’s: ‘‘is so cool and minimal it seemed to be watching you as often as you were watching it.’’ Jarmusch’s protagonists are either portrayed as tragicomic or disheveled outsiders in society forwarding through the lengthy pieces in a trippy state of ( the search for) self-awarness/self-fulfilment.

And yet his work is as scarce in dialogs as it is cryptic, offering more to the viewer’s imagination than directly placing all cards on the table.There  is albeit a palpable order in chaos – the hallucinogenic and improvisatory feeling often attributed to Jarmusch’s work is carefully balanced with precise frames and composition.  Watching ‘Coffee & Cigaretts’, ‘Limits of Controll’, ‘Only Lovers Left Alive’ or ‘Stranger than Paradise’, the viewer is left with a tangible feeling that images are the keepers of the narrative, if one is only to watch carefully. Naturally Jarmusch’s otherworldly and seemingly exotic films were labeled as ‘hipster’ (before Instagram redefined the term) ‘epitome of coolness’ & ‘avant-garde’  – those terms becoming Jim Jarmusch’s albatross and propelling his work to the cult status. 

All images film-stills, courtesy of JIm Jarmusch All images film-stills, courtesy of JIm Jarmusch
‘‘that (Stranger…) is so cool and minimal it seemed to be watching you as often as you were watching it.’’

Unsurprisingly enough Jarmusch has always been regarded as the antithesis to Hollywoodian blockbusters. As previously mentioned – slowpaced and trippy- these films offer post-contemplation over one’s own existence rather than a simple storyline consisting of introduction-plot-culmination-and-turning-point-happily-ever-after pastiche offered by major production players.
Yet the joke is seemingly in that Jarmusch’s movie stills are worthy of a vast following on the image sharing platform Instagram. Carefully arranged and shot, packed with complicated emotions, seemingly untouchable yet strangely familiar every scene is a story in itself.
There is a certain nonchalant touch to Jarmusch’s otherwise precise arrangements that in today’s world of Instagram & Vsco filters have a certain commercial quality to them. As Andy Warhol had forseen everyone’s 15 minutes of fame, Jim Jarmusch seems an unlikely prophet of visual future to come. Take for example stills from ‘Coffee & Cigarettes’ (2003) which interpret as perfectly arranged black & white flat-lays which any social media star with self-respect would be eager to immediately re-post. 

Every minimalistic fanatic with an obsessive notion towards pastel architecture will instantly recognize the visual orgasm offered by ‘Limits of Controll’ (2009). Instagram application has been introduced in late 2010 gaining momentum with 100 million users in 2012, which sets most of the Jarmusch films prior to the app launch offering non filtered visuals to anyone patient or tentative enough to recognize their quality. For his AW16 show American designer Joseph Altuzarra referenced ‘Only Lovers Left Alive’ as one of his main sources of inspiration. Rich fabrics interpreted through Altuzarra’s signature feminine silhouette were sent down the runway, and although one-dimensional, the looks captured the tangibly dark sexiness of OLLA. It is impossible not to smirk at the notion of the interestingly austere Jarmusch, called by his friend Tom Waits ‘a benign, fascinated foreigner’ as being king of Instagram and perfect flat-lays, yet in today’s digital world of improbable wonders, well, why not?