Jim Jarmusch’s 1984 film Stranger than Paradise is truly an ‘independent film’ in all senses of the word. Shot on donated film stock, utilizing likewise donated black leader, utilizing unknown experimental theater actors, and financed with a partially fund-raised budget. The film can therefore be categorized as an independent film in the economic sense of the word. The film can also be categorized as an independent film aesthetically. The film is a sparse meditation in extreme minimalism. In this film Jarmusch is more concerned with space, physical presence, and temporality than with dialogue, overt emotion, or plot structure. Shot on grainy black and white stock and taking place almost exclusively inside ‘living areas’ (Willie’s apartment, Aunt Lottie’s house, and the motel room in Florida), with long pauses between spoken lines the film eases the viewer into a state of distended temporality and strips away everything but the bare essentials that qualify something as a ‘film’.
Juan Suarez, in Contemporary Film Directors: Jim Jarmusch, says that;
"It can be said that Jarmusch revived the aesthetics of the 1950’s to portray the 1980’s, except that the 1950’s he revived were not those of consumer paradise, small-town homogeneity, and suburban bliss—but the 1950’s of the Beat writers and artists." (36)
Jarmusch revisits this in his later film Down By Law, and this concept only helps to enhance the minimalist atmosphere of the film. Willie in particular is an interesting character because he is clearly derived and inspired by Beat culture but he is clearly not a Beat poet himself. He has adopted the look and personality of one but without the actual talent to back it up. He is a jobless, aimless and lazy man who seemingly does nothing but gamble.