Spatial Narration in Amir Naderi's New York Trilogy

Document Type: Article Reviews


Shiraz University, Iran



This article is concerned with the relationship of language and city in Amir Naderi’s trilogy of films on New York, comprising of Manhattan by Numbers (1993), A, B, C… Manhattan (1997), and Marathon (2002). By dint of a narrative relied on spatiality, he is in fact able to causally link the solitude and the spectral existence of his protagonists to the lack of a common language for reconciliation and integration within the urban landscape. Whereas this narrative approach only minimally uses plot, it brings about an opportunity for sensory perception. Rather than employing narrative as a form of collective daydreaming where the real social conflicts are resolved on a mere fantastical level, Naderi’s films highlight the exclusion of the individual from the collective but in doing so they allow for a more totalizing understanding of social existence. Further, this tendency towards spatiality is concomitant with the inadequacy of language (as a fixed set of signifiers and signifieds) for the articulation of the individual’s experience within the vaster context of the city. By putting the stress on the cityscape, Naderi appears to be promoting city itself as a discourse whose semantics unravels only through direct physical contact. I wish to examine corporeal communication in these films in relation to the semiology of urban space as outlined by Roland Barthes and Henri Lefebvre.


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