From Barton Fink to Hail, Caesar!: Hollywood’s Ghosts of Marxist Past


  • Cam Cobb University of Windsor, Canada
  • Christopher J. Greig University of Windsor, Canada


Capitalism, Hollywood, Marxism, Coen Brothers, Barton Fink, Hail, Caesar!


Barton Fink and Hail, Caesar! take place in the distant past, the former in 1942 and the latter in 1951. In both films, Hollywood is portrayed not as a breezy dream factory, but as a toxic environment where filmmakers are locked into a perpetual battle with studio tycoons — and capitalism itself. It is a space where art is molded and even censored by the interests of marketization and profiteering. In short, these films depict the tumultuous marriage between art and business. They are cautionary tales about ghosts — or nightmares rather — of Hollywood’s Marxist past. To discuss Marxist dimensions of this unique pair of films in the Coen brothers’ oeuvre we explore four questions, including: (1) What is the social condition (depicted in these films)? (2) What is an alternative (to this condition)? (3) How do people struggle to challenge this system? And (4) What is the outcome (of their actions)?




How to Cite

Cobb, C., & J. Greig, C. (2016). From Barton Fink to Hail, Caesar!: Hollywood’s Ghosts of Marxist Past. Cinema: Journal of Philosophy and the Moving Image, (8), 53–68. Retrieved from