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Stranger Than Paradise

Stranger Than Paradise

5.0 3
Director: Jim Jarmusch, John Lurie, Eszter Balint, Richard Edson

Cast: Jim Jarmusch, John Lurie, Eszter Balint, Richard Edson


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Jim Jarmusch's breakthrough film, a one-of-a-kind comedy about a trio of low-rent bohemians and their lackadaisical adventures through America, gets a definitive home video presentation in this DVD release from the Criterion Collection. Created with the active participation of Jarmusch (and officially approved by the director), Stranger Than Paradise has been


Jim Jarmusch's breakthrough film, a one-of-a-kind comedy about a trio of low-rent bohemians and their lackadaisical adventures through America, gets a definitive home video presentation in this DVD release from the Criterion Collection. Created with the active participation of Jarmusch (and officially approved by the director), Stranger Than Paradise has been given a widescreen transfer to disc in the aspect ratio of 1.78:1, letterboxed on conventional televisions and enhanced for anamorphic play on 16x9 monitors. Tom DiCillo's camerawork has never looked better than it does on this disc, and while the black and white images still lean to the grainy and murky side, the widescreen transfer flatters his intelligent framings and makes the most of the film's purposefully grimy look. The audio has been mastered in Dolby Digital Mono, and sounds good, though the limitations of the location recordings occasionally become evident. The dialogue is in English (except for the occasional Hungarian rants from Aunt Lotte), and the disc includes no multiple language options, though optional English subtitles have been included. Disc two of this set is devoted to bonus material, the most notable item being the first North American DVD release of Jarmusch's little-seen debut film, 1980's Permanent Vacation, which looks a bit more polished than Stranger Than Paradise (if for no other reason than it's in color). Also included is a German television documentary on Jarmusch (which devotes equal time to Permanent Vacation and Stranger Than Paradise), behind-the-scenes Super-8 footage taken by Tom Jarmusch (Jim's brother) from the Cleveland shooting schedule, American and Japanese trailers for Stranger Than Paradise, and a gallery of snapshots from location scouting trips. The handsome booklet includes an essay by Jarmusch on Stranger Than Paradise, appreciations of the film by J. Hoberman and Geoff Andrew, and a short piece on Permanent Vacation by Luc Sante, followed by a longer meditation from the same author on pre-gentrification New York City. Stranger Than Paradise was a watershed work in the early inning of the American independent film movement, and this DVD set beautifully captures its qualities, as well as the idiosyncratic talent that helped Jarmusch become a major American filmmaker over the decades that followed.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Gregory Baird
Deadpan humor and a sense of hip aimlessness pervade Stranger Than Paradise, the breakthrough feature of indie auteur Jim Jarmusch. The film's skeletal story follows three proto-slackers -- Willie (John Lurie), his best friend (Richard Edson), and Willie's Hungarian cousin (Eszter Balint) -- on a road trip from New York to Cleveland to Miami. Beautifully filmed in black and white, Stranger Than Paradise uses wide shots, a static camera, and minimal editing to give scenes an almost improvised quality, with plenty of awkward silences alternating with some distinctly non-dramatic dialogue. All three members of the tiny cast give low-key performances that are touching without being overly emotive. The story itself is marvelously episodic, a series of conversation fragments and slice of life moments punctuated with fades and cuts to black. A spare string quartet score by Lounge Lizard Lurie accents the introspective tone of this road movie to nowhere. Jarmusch's signature style -- a mixture of understated humor, formal elegance, and metaphorical richness -- works to perfection here, making Stranger than Paradise an offbeat masterpiece.
All Movie Guide - Karl Williams
An exercise in minimalist hipster cool that entertains less because of its nothing-happens plot than its comic, avant-garde style, Stranger Than Paradise (1984) also ranks high on the list of the late twentieth century's most influential and historically important films, representing an early example of the low-budget independent wave that would dominate the cinematic marketplace a decade later. The second film from New York director Jim Jarmusch, Stranger Than Paradise was first produced as a short called The New World with stock that was donated to the filmmaker by Wim Wenders, one of his two mentors (the other was Nicholas Ray). After touring the festival circuit, the short garnered enough attention for Jarmusch to adapt it into a feature, using The New World as the first of clearly delineated thirds. At times playing like a series of pointless vignettes, Stranger Than Paradise has certain generational themes in common with later indie films like Slacker (1991) in its preoccupation with the disaffection, aimlessness and inability to communicate of its central characters. Defying the hard-working immigrant stereotype, the Hungarian-born New Yorker Willie (John Lurie) is a gambler who is selfishly does not want to put up his teenaged cousin Eva (Eszter Balint) when she arrives in America from Budapest on a brief stopover before continuing on to her new home with an aunt in Ohio. Willie grows to admire Eva, however, when she commits petty theft. Together with Willie's pal Eddie (Richard Edson), also a hustler, the three seem more preoccupied with what to avoid (a boring winter in Ohio on the shore of Lake Erie where they go to visit Eva a year later) than with where they're going (once they flee Ohio for sunnier, more exotic Miami, life doesn't really change for them: Eva can't decide what to do there and the two men lose all their hard-earning poker winnings betting at the track). Each character harbors a desire to arrive in a paradise of sorts (for Eva, it is the America that spawned the rebellious Screamin' Jay Hawkins, for Eddie it is where Eva is living in Ohio and for Willie it is Florida). In the circular world of Stranger Than Paradise, however, they each end up frustrated, confused and ultimately, back where they began. Jarmusch's use of long takes and slow fades to black punctuates the humor of his characters' boredom, ennui, and frustration; his trademark usage of parallel tracking shots makes its first appearance here. In 1984, Stranger Than Paradise was named Best Picture by the National Society of Film Critics and was awarded the prize for new filmmakers, the Camera d'Or, at Cannes.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Region Code:
[B&W, Wide Screen]
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Special Features

Disc One: ; New, restored high-definition digital transfer, supervised and approved by director Jim Jarmusch; ; Disc Two:; Permanent Vacation (1980, 75 minutes), Jarmusch's first full-length feature, presented in a new, restored high-definiton digital transfer, supervised by the director; Kino '84: Jim Jarmusch, a 1984 German television program featuring interviews with cast and crew from Stranger Than Paradise and Permanent Vacation; Some Days in January 1984, a behind-the-scenes Super 8 film by Tom Jarmusch; Location scouting photos; U.S. and Japanese trailers; Plus: a booklet featuring Jarmusch's 1984 "Some Notes on Stranger Than Paradise," Geoff Andrew and J. Hoberman on Stranger Than Paradise, and Luc Sante on Permanent Vacation

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
John Lurie Willie
Eszter Balint Eva
Richard Edson Eddie
Cecillia Stark Aunt Lottie
Danny Rosen Billy
Rammellzee Man with Money
Paul Sloane Motel Owner
Richard Boes Factory Worker
Harvey Perr Poker player
Brian J. Burchill Poker player
Sara Driver Girl with Hat
Tom Docillo Airline Agent
Rockets Redglare Poker Player

Technical Credits
Jim Jarmusch Director,Editor,Screenwriter
Guido Chiesa Production Designer
Tom DiCillo Cinematographer
Sara Driver Producer
Sam Edwards Production Designer
Otto Grokenberger Executive Producer
Tom Jarmusch Production Designer
Drew Kunin Score Composer
Melody London Editor
John Lurie Score Composer

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Stranger Than Paradise
1. The New World [5:28]
2. Ten Days [5:46]
3. "I've Been Winning" [10:43]
4. An Ugly Dress [8:15]
5. One Year Later [3:41]
6. "Which Way Is Cleveland?" [3:19]
7. Aunt Lotte's House [6:55]
8. Hot Dog Stand [2:29]
9. Date Night [4:01]
10. "Everything Looks Just the Same" [2:23]
11. The Big Lake [4:22]
12. Paradise [4:56]
13. Real Tourists [3:16]
14. "I've Got a Good Feeling" [3:48]
15. The Name of the Game [8:04]
16. "You the Freak, Right?" [5:41]
17. Back to Budapest [6:04]
Disc #2 -- Stranger Than Paradise: Permanent Vacation and Supplements
1. From Here to Here [7:13]
2. Just Like Charlie Parker [6:05]
3. The Drift [9:21]
4. Life During Wartime [7:03]
5. Visit With Mom [4:31]
6. Walking [6:33]
7. At the Movies [6:45]
8. Vibrating, Bugged-Out Sound [7:53]
9. Hot Ride [4:48]
10. Skipping Town [7:35]
11. A Certain Kind of Tourist [6:59]

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Stranger Than Paradise 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
TVProfessor More than 1 year ago
Jim Jarmusch of the ultra hip jazz group "The Lounge Lizards" begins an incredible body of work with this Black and White story of two losers and a foreign cousin one has to entertain. The story is good but what makes this film great are the deadpan performances, the subtleties, stunning shots and the fact that most of this movie is shot with long shots (thus eliminating the cutaways and close ups that cost money). Released to independent film houses in 1984, this movie revived the American Indy in many ways.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago