Modernism describes a collection of cultural movements of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. It consists of a series of reforming movements in art, architecture, literature, music and applied arts. Modernism was characterized by a dramatic change of thought, whereby human intellect sought to improve their environment. There was a trend of improving every aspect of life by involving science and technology into it. Modernism brought about a reform in all spheres of life including philosophy, commerce, art and literature, with the aid of technology and experimentation. It led to progress in all the aspects of life by changing the approach of mankind of looking at them. Postmodernism means, 'after the modern’. It was a reaction to modernism and was influenced by the disenchantment brought about by the Second World War. Postmodernism refers to the state that lacks a central hierarchy and one that is complex, ambiguous and diverse. The developments in society, the economy and the culture of the 1960s were impacted by postmodernism.
When thinking about a piece of work that has been transported from postmodernism to modernism, the first thing that comes to mind is the remake of A Christmas Carol, the very famous novel written by Charles Dickens in the 19th century. There have been multiple adaptations of this novel, but the most famous one was produced in 1951. This version embodies the idea of postmodernism in regards to the lack of science and technology. In the scene where the ghost of Marley appears to Scrooge, the figure is simply present and not ghost-like at all. The only thing that makes him look like a ghost is all white face makeup he has on. The dialogue is taken straight from the book and not adjusted to meet the entertainment needs of the viewer. The film is in black and white, so that the authenticity of the original art is sustained. The music used in this film is melodramatic and full of suspense. In whole, this version of the film and its simplicity embodies in every aspect the idea that “science has always been in conflict with narratives” (Lyotard). Evidently in postmodernism, narrative is chosen over conflict.
A Christmas Carol (1984): Part 1
Modernist historians have a faith in depth. They believe in going deep into a subject to fully analyze it. This is not the case with postmodernist thinkers. They believe in going by the superficial appearances, they believe in playing on surfaces and show no concern towards the depth of subjects. In the most recent production of this film, the era it represents is Late Modernism/ Contemporary. The viewer is treated with the upmost care when the issue comes to entertainment with the deliberate use of technology, flying figures, vibrant colors, and upbeat music as opposed to the traditional kind seen in the previous clip. Its creative, scientific, and the parts compromise the whole of the story. The dialogue/language used is witty (representation of Charles Dickens), fun and universal in all these aspects.
A Christmas Carol (2009): Trailer
In conclusion, Modernism tends to present a fragmented view of human subjectivity and history
but presents that fragmentation as something tragic, something to be lamented and mourned as a loss. Many modernist works try to uphold the idea that works of art can provide the unity, coherence, and meaning which has been lost in most of modern life; art will do what other human institutions fail to do. Postmodernism, in contrast, doesn't lament the idea of fragmentation, provisionality, or incoherence, but rather celebrates that.