Portraits of Egoism in Classic Cinema III: Nietzschean Portrayals

Reason Papers 37 (2) (2015)
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In this essay, I look at two films as possible exemplars of the Nietzschean view of egoism. Compulsion is based on the infamous 1924 Leopold and Loeb murder case. In the movie, two arrogant young men—one of whom admires Nietzsche and preaches the (apparently Nietzschean) view that the strong and superior don’t need to follow conventional morality—kill a boy to prove they can outsmart the unter-menschen police. For a different take on what Nietzsche may have had in mind as “the Overman,” I also look at the film The Moon and Sixpence. Here the protagonist isn’t violent or aggressive, but a completely self-absorbed artist, who paints with genius but uses others without feeling any gratitude or friendship, let alone love.
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