Frozen is a deconstruction of the classic Disney fairy-tale genre. It has all the classic elements: a witch-queen who places a curse on a beautiful princess and her realm, dooming both to destruction; a brave and handsome prince, beloved (at first sight) betrothed of the princess, who storms the witch-queen's enchanted castle, fighting his way past her terrifying guard-monster, to defeat the queen and break the curse; and, of course, it turns out that only an act of true love can undo all the bad mojo. It sounds like a cross between Sleeping Beauty and Snow White. Except of course that, in this film, the witch-queen is the doting and adored sister of the princess, and is an innocent victim of circumstance, who only cursed everything by accident; the handsome prince is the villain of the piece (a key plot-point is how foolish it is to fall in love with and agree to marry someone you've just met); and the act of true love is not a true love's kiss, but rather the willingness of one sister to sacrifice herself for the other.
Schmendrick: Then let the quest end here! I don't think I could change her back even if you wished it! Marry the prince and live happily ever after. Amalthea: Yes! That is my wish! Lír: No. Lady, I am a hero, and heroes know that things must happen when it is time for them to happen. A quest may not simply be abandoned. Unicorns may go unrescued for a long time, but not forever. The happy ending cannot come in the middle of the story. Molly Grue:(quietly to Schmendrick) But what if there isn't a happy ending at all? Schmendrick:(quietly) There are no happy endings, because nothing ends.
Films — Live-Action
Though it portrays Jesus in a favorable light, Monty Python's Life of Brian is a pretty harsh deconstruction of society's romanticized view of life in the time of Christ, and of biblical stories in general. As it points out, the Romans weren't just cruel oppressors with 0% Approval Rating — they did more to improve the Judean people's lives than anyone before them. Conversely, "God's chosen people" had criminal justice that could be just as brutal and unfair as the Romans', and they were never a noble La Résistance — they spent more time getting involved in petty squabbling amongst themselves than they did resisting the Romans. And in any case, having a cult of devoted followers who expect you to solve all of their problems isn't nearly as cool as you would think. And getting betrayed by your friends and "sacrificing" yourself on the cross? It's only inspiring when it's not happening to you!
Jidai Geki films underwent an increasingly cynical Deconstructionist phase during the 1960s that arguably led to the genre going out of vogue for a good deal of the 1970s:
According to Word of God, The Good The Bad And The Ugly was intended as a swipe at classic Western movies. Its violence was, for the time, gratuitous; and while stylish, was uncomplicatedly so — an attempt by Leone to remind the viewer of what kind of men really were in the Wild West. The torture sequence is legitimately brutal, and accompanied by Soundtrack Dissonance. As for the character of Blondie (The Good), he's both significantly more fleshed out (and, as a result, less invincible) than he was in the previous two Dollars movies, showing tenderness, affection and pain; and yet the title 'The Good' draws attention to what a bastard he is (performing the kind of actions that were fairly standard in Westerns at the time). The two times his title pops up on screen, it's after he's been a particularly Magnificent Bastard (delivering a Bond One-Liner to someone he's abandoning in the desert, and pretending to hang someone for his own personal amusement). Of course, it's considered the archetypical Western nowadays, probably because it's just so good.
Even though it kinda started with The Searchers, in which Wayne's hero is unabashedly racist towards Native Americans - even toward his own adopted nephew, who is one-eighth Cherokee.
He's still the hero in that movie, however, while his Comanche counterpart dies shamefully. And he's really no more racist than many of the other characters. What really makes him frightening is that he's both racist and insane.
Unforgiven is a particularly sharp deconstruction of American westerns, but also of the spaghetti westerns that Clint Eastwood himself starred in. In particular, the portrayal of the main character shows how an ace gunfighter might have lived out his later years. His character progression also goes in reverse, unraveling into his former state to undo the character development he's acquired. Many standard conventions of westerns are also subverted, including the quickdraw contest, the hooker with the heart of gold, and the triumphant ride into the sunset. The scenes with the dime novel author are dedicated to exposing the falsehoods of the folklore surrounding the "wild west".
Pirates of the Caribbean, of the pirate/swashbuckler genre. None of the pirates are shown in a truly positive light. Sparrow may not prefer killing indiscriminately but that's because he would prefer to con and swindle people instead.
The Truman Show is a deconstruction of Reality TV. Oddly enough, before (1998) the huge proliferation of Reality TV in the 2000s took place, although they had certainly existed for some time by then.
Friday Night Lights is a harsh deconstruction of American sports culture. After numerous feel-good sports films in the '90s and early '00s, most of which focused on underdog stories and persevering under bad circumstances, Friday Night Lights revolves around the Permian Panthers, one of the most successful high school football programs in the United States. It highlights the extreme pressure, pathetic post-high school career aspirations, and utter obsession that colors the lives of the young players, several of them visibly buckling under the ridiculous expectations that the town places on their shoulders. One player is even abused out in the open by his father, a former star player himself who can't accept the harsh realities of life after football. Dillon (based on Real Life Odessa, Texas) is a Dying Town that has nothing going for it besides the Permian Panthers, and that infatuation ultimately leads to the team losing at the state finals. And it's all Truth in Television (it was based on a non-fiction book), as anyone from Texas and the rural South could attest to, especially in the withering boomtowns and oilfields that stretch all across central Texas.
Funny Games is intended as a Post Modernist deconstruction of Gorn and horror films by presenting it in the most bare-bones and disturbing way possible. The whole film forces the viewer to examine why they are watching the film and being entertained by it. A number of scenes play with audience expectations, flatly telling the audience what they want to see and either giving it to them or denying it to them based on the whim of the author. One particularly taunting scene features the female victim managing to gun down one of the attackers, only for this triumphantly cathartic moment to be snatched away as the other attacker rewinds the film and undoes it.
The Guns of Navarone deconstructs the "crack military team sent behind enemy lines" genre, what with the characters questioning the morality of the means they use to complete the mission or even the mission's relevance.
Mallory is perfectly aware that the steps he takes to complete the mission are often immoral.
Miller's deadpan snarking is his only defense to the madness of war.
"Butcher" Brown has post-traumatic stress and is unable to kill enemy soldiers, putting the entire team at risk.
Night Moves (1975) is another noir deconstruction. Gene Hackman plays Harry Moseby, a pro football player-turned-private investigator. He asks a lot of questions, but rarely gets straight or complete answers. He sees a lot of things, but they're usually obscured by distance or obstacles (such as windows or screen doors) or seen only on an incomplete filmstrip. He both literally and figuratively spins in circles during the movie, and ends (as does the audience) knowing who the bad guys were but not why any of it happened. On another level the film is a deconstruction of the entire idea of American masculinity in the post-Watergate, post-Vietnam era; Harry's glory days are behind him, and he does what he does not because he's any good at it, or because he particularly enjoys it, but because he simply doesn't know what else to do.
To a certain extent, the 2006 James Bond film Casino Royale deconstructs earlier Bond films, and Martini-style Spy Fiction in general, through features such as a conversation mocking the Double Entendre names of previous Bond girls, LeChiffre's comment about preferring simpler methods of torture to the Death Traps endemic to the series, having Bond respond "Do I look like I give a damn?" when asked how he wants his martini, and generally treating his profession as an assassin more literally. At least some of these features were present in the original novels, making the film something of a Reconstruction as well.
His Cowboy Cop attitude is scrutinized more ruthlessly and his interactions with his allies sometimes prove fatal for them.
Bond movies have always had a tension in the character of Bond, between "flashy guy with clever lines, cool toys, and beautiful women", and "cold, ruthless assassin." Casino Royale and its sequel, Quantum of Solace, push the dial almost all the way towards the "assassin" element, but it was present in most of the earlier Bond films (particularly the Timothy Dalton films).
Skyfall takes the Deconstruction aspects even further by literally and figuratively asking on whether Bond is even relevant in a Post Cold War era of cyber espionage. The movie ultimately concludes that he is and Bond is Reconstructed even more so that before.
Battles Without Honor and Humanity (Jingi Naki Tatakai) is a deconstruction of the Yakuza films popular in Japan around the same time, which tended to portray the Yakuza as a chivalrous, honorable organization of Blood Brothers. In the film, besides the main character, they're money-grubbing, backstabbing, treacherous, and vicious. Every vow of brotherhood or loyalty has been violated and the time-honored traditions of the Yakuza seem ludicrous, outmoded, or just plain crazy. The name of the film demonstrates this — "Jingi" is the term for the Yakuza code of honor.
The Wrestler is a deconstruction of sports movies in which the fallen and ailing sporting hero's Redemption Quest is to triumph against physical adversity and win a big bout against an old rival, which thus solves his current problems and allows him to move on with their lives with renewed success and appreciation from the fans. Here, what would be the subject of such a quest in such movies — a big reunion bout with his main rival in the past — in fact isn't; Randy's realRedemption Quest is to build a new life for himself outside of the ring by fixing things with his estranged daughter and find love with Cassidy, the stripper with whom he has fallen in love. He ultimately fails at both, and the fact that he enters the big bout is in fact a symbol of his failure in this; although he wins the bout, it's strongly implied that his heart problems means that the effort killed him in the process. In addition, his victory was inevitable, as all wrestling duels are shown to be scripted, and Randy is a still-beloved All American Face who just can't lose.
Not only that, but there is no real animosity between Randy and his old rival, The Ayatollah. The people he has real problems with are those outside the ring. In fact, The Ayatollah tries to help Randy when he realizes that something is wrong with him.
Pleasantville deconstructs the stereotypical 1950s Leave It to Beaver style sitcom, and with it the whole phenomenon of 1950s nostalgia; it starts off as a typically wholesome, innocent and carefree place (especially when contrasted to the 1990s, a lengthy opening montage reeling out all the social problems seemingly endemic since the 1950s), but the introduction of color into the black-and-white environment gradually peels things back to reveal the stifling and repressed attitudes towards race, gender and sexuality seething under the surface, and the social problems of the decade that such nostalgia frequently overlooks.
The movement to stop the spread of color in Pleasantville is analogous to McCarthyism.
The movie is a double deconstruction as the 90's free spirit girl is shown to be just as one dimensional, in that she never really cares for anything, and only when she does can she be part of a fully realized world.
The "Society" game is a very sickening take on Rule 34 and Second Life due to the above reason.
The Final, a 2010 indie horror film, kills two birds with one stone by deconstructing both the "nerds get revenge on the bullies" plot and the "psycho classmate" plot. The outcasts don't want the simple comical revenge that so many such teen movie protagonists desire — they actually want the bullies to suffer (through torture) the way they've been made to suffer throughout their school years. The "psycho classmates" are not simple outcasts with your average Freudian Excuse — it's implied they were generally good people whose crappy home lives, coupled with years of abuse from the bullies, turned them into the dark characters they are in the film. Indeed, they try to make sure that Kurtis, a friend who was nice to them, doesn't go their "party," and they don't torture people who didn't actively abuse them. The film then takes another deconstruction of the bullies themselves — Bridget, the Alpha Bitch's best friend, tries to reach out to one of the outcasts, and gets offered a chance to save herself if she tortures one of her classmates. The stereotypical Libby would've gladly taken up the offer, but she refuses and is punished for it. The film cleverly shows that neither the bullies nor the outcasts are all that good.
"Stahlnetz" ("Steel Net") , a German series of Made-for-TV crime movies, deconstructs Police Procedural. The officers. are people with their own problems and shortcomings, far from being neatly divided into squeaky clean and corrupt bastards. The criminals are also realistic, many being bullied, pushed or outright coerced into crime while still being definitely bad people, whereas other are monsters, despite looking like ordinary people on the outside. Victims also come with their share of problems, some being an Asshole Victim, others being punished for being nice. The police solves cases through hard work, including setbacks, rather than beating half the underworld. And despite each film finishing with the crime resolve and criminals caught, the realistic portrayal of both the criminals and victims means most films have a Bittersweet Ending, if not a Downer. (Ironically the only story with (relatively) Happy Ending is also the most brutal of all).
Heathers is a rather bitter deconstruction of the popular John Hughes style teen movies at the time. The bad boy the heroine lusts after is actually a disturbed psycho who lures the heroine into his scheme to murder the popular kids and he even tries to blow up the school and pass it off as a group suicide. She isn't happy to be part of the popular kids and it's actually that which makes her want to murder them. Also the Girl Posse aren't the cookie cutter bad guys with one of them being bulimic and sick of being a butt monkey while another genuinely contemplates suicide.
Mighty Joe Young (at least the 1998 version) deconstructs King Kong. The ape isn't an island-dwelling monster, but an otherwise normal African gorilla with extreme giantism. The female lead has more in common with Dian Fossey then the screaming damsel in distress of Kong. And when Joe finally does go on his "rampage" it's because he's confronted with the poacher that killed his mother.
Scanners sets up a fairly standard Hero's Journey, as Cameron Vale, blessed with Psychic Powers, is sent by wise old Dr. Paul Ruth to defeat Ruth's former pupil, Darryl Revok, who also has Psychic Powers. Vale befriends a white-haired girl, Kim Obrist, who can help him infiltrate Revok's organization. Not unsurprisingly, it is revealed that both Cameron and Darryl are the two sons of Paul. With us so far? And then Darryl points out what kind of father would abandon his sons like that, and weaponize one against the other, and, indeed, would test a potentially dangerous new drug on his pregnant wife, thus making Cameron and Darryl psychic in the first place. "That was Daddy." Also, the psychic stuff is disgusting and creepy: scanning is presented not as a graceful and mystical power, but as a painful and unpleasant "merging of two nervous systems". The process is as unpleasant for the the person being scanned (who suffer from headaches and nosebleeds at best, and can have their hearts stopped and heads exploded at worst) and the scanners themselves who suffer severe social and psychological side effects from hearing other peoples thoughts (the main character starts the movie homeless, and another scanner murdered his family when he was a child). Ruth's dream of a scanner utopia turn out to be Not So Different from Revok's scanner-supremacy idea, as observed by Vale. Meanwhile, Cam and Kim never fall in love, as would be expected, because they're too scared for their lives.
The 1991 film The Dark Backward contains an animated sequence that deconstructs the Tom and Jerry cartoons: Tom's Captain Ersatz gleefully pursues Jerry's, hatchet in hand, and then cuts him in half with it (guts spill); then Spike's Captain Ersatz appears and blows the cat's brains out (literally) with a shotgun. The main character's mother laughs out loudly at this scene.
The 2008 movie JCVD is a deconstruction of Jean-Claude Van Damme himself, as an out-of-luck delusional actor as opposed to the real-life moderately successful actor. Read the synopsis here.
One could argue that the first live action Scooby-Doo movie deconstructed the gang's main quirks. In the cartoon, Daphne often became the Designated Victim, but took it in stride, even cracking a quip about it occasionally. In the movie, however, she openly despises the fact that she's "always the damsel in distress", and this combined with the fact that she blames it on the "incompetence" of the others makes her the most bitter and reluctant to get the gang back together. Velma was always the smart girl, but the movie portrays her as an under-appreciated Insufferable Genius. Fred was the de facto leader of Mystery Inc, and as such was often the voice of reason. The movie shows him as a literal Only Sane Man who struggles to keep the conflicting personalities of the team from getting out of hand - and that's when he's not being portrayed as an insensitive jerk. Surprisingly, Shaggy and Scooby are actually almost identical to their cartoon incarnations but in the second movie, they become deconstructed as well; Their cowardly and clumsy behavior causes the team to see them as a burden, and when they found it out, they try their hardest to improve themselves. Of course, it ends up bad and when the team is exiled from their hometown, Shaggy's self-esteem is at rock bottom.
Also the first movie shows how much the gang are willing to tolerate Scrappy Doo. Not one bit.
The Milla Jovovich version of Joan of Arc plays out the way the true story went until she is captured by the English, at which point it deconstructs the entire mythology surrounding Joan of Arc.
Saturday Night Fever harshly deconstruct America's hedonistic take on life in The Seventies. Sure, there were beautiful clothes, music, and lots of dancing, but there was a dark side to the life led by such people Tony and his friends. For example, Tony, who turns to hedonism as a way to cope with his own life as a low-class Brooklyn guy with a reallyDysfunctional Family, has no thought for the future (and the culture as a whole didn't either), and his friends are involved with drugs, drinking, and casual sex which does cause them huge problems.
Before School Days, The Beguiled (starring Clint Eastwood) showed why taking advantage of a bunch of ready and willing teenage girls is a bad idea.
The 2003 adaption of Daredevil deconstructs a lot of elements found in Comic books adaptions. Due to his vigilante lifestyle, Matt is in extreme pain from fighting, nurses multiple broken bones and nasty scars on his body, munches down painkillers regularly, he is frequently absent from work, he refuses to handle guilty or dishonest clients at his law firm, his super senses make it impossible for him to sleep out of a sensory depravation tank and he is dealing with a wreck of a personal life. Which is to say nothing of the fact that the poor guy is so miserable and downbeaten by life he can barely muster the energy to keep going.
Seven Samurai deconstructed the samurai mythos. Samurai aren't allowed to change occupations so they sell their services or (like the bandits) resort to crime.
Snow White A Taleof Terror deconstructs the original fairytale characters and especially the Disney film. Claudia starts out as a loving woman who wants to bond with her new stepdaughter, but Lilli shies away from her and that ends up leading to Claudia's Face-Heel Turn. Also, the miners aren't cheerful dwarves, but outcasts from the kingdom.
28 Days Laterdoes not actually deconstruct the Zombie Apocalypse genre. The fact that the zombies aren't actually dead but rather infected with a "rage virus" that takes hold instantly (preventing the token Zombie Infectee) and runs don't change the fact that the film follows the typical tropes of a Romero zombie-flick: A small group of survivors trying to adapt to their new world and other humans being a much more dangerous threat than the zombies. Quentin Tarantino criticized director Danny Boyle for claiming to not have been inspired by Romero for those reasons, noting the similarities between the last act of 28 Days Later and Day of the Dead, but it bears pointing out that, as illustrated by the DVD Special Features, the film's ending was originally envisioned much differently, so this could have been an honest case of two great minds thinking alike.
Cloverfield deconstructs what Kaiju monster flicks had become over the decades by instead of focusing on the monster pounding other monsters' faces in or wrecking the military, you're given the perspective from ordinary people trapped in the crossfire... which makes one realize how horrific the bog-standard giant-monster movie plot would be if it really happened, accidentally reconstructing the original Godzilla in the process.
The Star Wars Prequel Trilogy can be viewed as a deconstruction of the Original Trilogy. The OT was standard Space Opera with all of its tropes played straight. The PT, however, is far more morally complex and ambiguous (or at least it wants to be and sometimes it tries too hard to be). In Revenge of the Sith, every victory that the heroes attained in the previous two films (and for the first part of that one) was in fact the villain's plan all along. Anakin becomes a near perfect deconstruction of the Messianic Archetype. Obi-Wan's bold statement of "Only the Sith speak in absolutes" is the exact opposite of what everything else in the film depicts about the nature of the Sith and Jedi and their worldviews.
Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil is one for Hillbilly Horrors, featuring the rural hicks as the heroes and the college kids as the villains. However, it's also a partial Reconstruction, since Chad, the actual villain of the movie is revealed to actually be an evil hillbilly who turns into a crazed killer by the end. He just doesn't stereotypically look like one. His origin story, in which his crazy hillbilly father raped his mother (resulting in his conception), is a straight example.
My Best Friends Wedding deconstructs the romantic comedy genre by initially appearing to follow the standard romance plot of a female protagonist trying to win the man of her dreams from the Romantic False Lead's clutches, only to have its protagonist come to realize that she is actually the Romantic False Lead, the man she thought she could win back is genuinely in love with the woman she thought was the Romantic False Lead and vice versa, and her Zany Schemes to break them up weren't cute or endearing but incredibly petty and mean-spirited.
Critics such as John G. Cawelti have argued that Chinatown is all about deconstructing the "myth" of Film Noir and the Hardboiled Detective. Gittes isn't a tough, emotionally detached private eye, but rather a vulnerable, flawed Anti-Hero. Evelyn isn't a Femme Fatale, but everyone assumes she is (in part because of the misogynistic value system underpinning 1930s California). And the villain is so rich, powerful and influential that Gittes is ultimately powerless to stop him or his conspiracy. And so on.
The Cabin in the Woods deconstructs not only the horror movie genre, but the horror movie industry. The Ancient Ones, a race of Eldritch Abominations that live beneath the Earth, are only satisfied by sacrifices that follow a specific set of rules — have five victims who follow familiar archetypes, have a Harbinger of Impending Doom warn them of what's to come, kill the Whore first, give the Virgin a chance to survive, and of course, make it bloody and sleazy — and they throw a fit whenever "the rules" aren't followed. In short, they're the great mass of mainstream moviegoers who demand familiarity rather than anything that pushes creative boundaries. The scientists, meanwhile, are horror filmmakers who've grown bored supplying the same old pablum to the Ancient Ones, and long to put a twist on their usual work, for once.
The first Die Hard deconstructed action films that were in vogue in the '80s. John McClane is not a squeaky clean family man. John is outnumbered and cannot just go around shooting bad guys by himself ("'Cause then you'd be dead too, asshole!"). John is not Made of Iron and is visibly in pain as the movie continues, and by the end he's been badly bruised and is just happy to still be alive. Furthermore, in spite of everything he achieved, nothing improved for him. His relationship with his estranged ex-wife Holly and his kids didn't miraculously get better, and he ends up getting no recognition for his accomplishments.
This is a major criticism about the later sequels. In the first film, McClane is very nearly stopped by bare feet and broken glass. By number four, he's become a conventional and cliche Action Hero.
Super is yet another movie asking "What would a superhero be like in real life?" The answer is "Travis Bickle."