This study guide will help you analyze the movie Nomadland (2020) directed by Chloé Zhao. You can also find a summary of the events, as well as inspiration for interpreting the film and putting it into reception

Presentation of the text

Title: Nomadland (2020)
Director: Chloé Zhao
Genre: Film

Born in 1982, Chloé Zhao is a renowned filmmaker who was born in China. She has directed numerous acclaimed feature films and has been recognized with a plethora of awards. Among her significant works are "Songs My Brother Taught Me" (2015), "The Rider" (2017), and "Eternals" (2021). In addition, Zhao wore multiple hats as the writer, producer, and director of "Nomadland" (2020), which secured her the Best Picture and Best Director honors at the Academy Awards.

The film is an adaptation of the 2017 non-fiction book "Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century" penned by Jessica Bruder. It narrates the tales of older Americans who adopted a nomadic lifestyle following the Great Recession of 2008-2009. The cinematic version tells the story of Fern, played by Frances McDormand, a woman who roams the United States in a van, engaging in seasonal work, after her husband's death and the closure of the US Gypsum factory in Empire, Nevada. "Nomadland" uniquely includes actual nomads who appear as fictional versions of themselves. The film received numerous accolades, securing Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actress.

Excerpt from the study guide:

One reason why Fern is reluctant to form a meaningful connection with Dave and settle somewhere permanently might be that she is still mourning her husband, Bo. It seems that Fern loved Bo deeply, as she quit her job to take care of him when he got sick and stayed with him while he was in the hospital. The scene at the beginning, when she holds Bo’s coat close to her (00:02:08-00:02:19) shows that she still misses Bo.

Fern confesses to Bob Wells that the reason she stayed in Empire after Bo died was that she wanted to keep the memory of him alive: “If I didn’t stay, if I left, it would be like he never existed.” (01:235:27). Because Bo had a deep connection to the town of Empire, Fern feels that it is wrong to abandon the place. This might also be why she does not want to settle down anywhere else, either with Dave or with her sister Dolly. Fern might ...

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