City/Nature Dichotomy in Paranoid Park Essay

The dichotomy between nature and city is constantly present in the movie Paranoid Park. The city portion of this dichotomy represents the crowded urban area where everybody cares only for themselves. Nature is represented by the beach, and by people who care for others. It is important to note that Paranoid Park does not follow a strict dichotomy; often bits of nature can be found in the city and visa versa. The first appearance of the nature/city dichotomy is the during the title credits; a scene of a fast-forwarded view of a modern bridge, with cars rushing to and from.

This bridge is a clear embodiment of city, and the director fast forwards this scene to emphasis how rushed city life is. Though we are unaware of it at the beginning, East Side Skate Park is under this very bridge. The placement of Paranoid Park is highly symbolic, the park is under a bridge in order to show that the people present there, the broken teens, are being overshadowed by modern society. One must understand the inception of skateboarding in order to fully understand this nuance. Skateboarding originates from surfing, which suggests the beach and nature.

It was created by surfers in the city since there were no waves in the middle of an urban area. Teens skateboarding can be compared to their place in society; they are balanced perilously and the slightest error could cause them to fall off. Skateboarders falling off of their board is high symbolic, as it represents that the teens have fallen from society, and have become a broken teen. Behind the Paranoid Park is is a casino advertisement which states: it’s better at the beach. This introduces us to the nature portion.

Our first view of the beach is Alex walking down the beach path towards the bench where he writes in the journal. He is still wearing street clothes, which symbolizes that he is still attached to the city, and will be forced to return later. To Alex the beach is only a temporary reprieve from the pains of the city. The director makes the buildings at the beach, particularly the house that Alex stays in, have a unique architecture that clearly distinguishes it from the city. At the beach, things are much more peaceful and it’s there where Alex writes the letter explain the events involved with the murder.

This narration is what the entire movie is based off of, and explains why the movie is not in chronological order. Rather than focusing on the differences between the two dichotomies, Paranoid Park instead shows that the two portions are interconnected. Alex wearing street clothes while at the beach and the casino advertisement behind Paranoid Park are both examples of the gray area of the nature/city dichotomy. One cannot exist without the other, and both are present within each other.