Wittgenstein in Coen Country
Before yellow map with red names are two photographs. The one in b / w shows the half portrait of a man, the other two men with sunglasses and cowboy hat.
Language Games in the Films of Joel and Ethan Coen
Wed, 15.01.2014, 6 pm CET

“What are you talking about” is a question which repeatedly emerges in the films of Joel and Ethan Coen. Taking their cue from Ludwig Wittgenstein, who, with his concept of language games situated philosophy on a new, language-critical foundation, the Coen Brothers have transferred these concepts to film aesthetics which they use consistently in their films.

In accurately detailed recordings, they thus succeed in describing the American subcultures at various periods and different places − from southern Texas to Minnesota, from Los Angeles to New York. As witnessed in many films ranging from those of Ford, Hawks, Capra, Lang or Hitchcock, one no less observes in the work of Joel and Ethan Coen the thought processes of the protagonists: language, cognitive processes and ideologies are rendered visible. The film code becomes a meta-language in the labyrinths of everyday life.

The concept of the language game, as well as the application of film aesthetics, is illustrated by way of this trans-disciplinary film analysis, and supplements the retrospective of the Coen Brothers films at Schauburg.

Project team

Speaker: Wolfgang Petroll, lecturerr for Media Aesthetics and Film, at Zentrum für Angewandte Kulturwissenschaft [Center for Applied Cultural Sciences] and Studium Generale, Karlsruhe Institute for Technology (KIT)

Organization / Institution
Akademie für wissenschaftliche Weiterbildung Karlsruhe