Essay Instructions: LENGTH: 1000-1200 words. Minimum of five full paragraphs of five sentences each.
Write an interpretation/evaluation essay about one of the following, and use the methods the criteria arguing cause and arguing evaluations and define the terms if necessary. You may even need to do some outside research as well to support your argument. Your argument will be based on aesthetics but may also be ethical.
This paper will be available to peer review.
Be aware that I may not have seen the topic you are writing about, so be very specific in all of your details in order to be persuasive.
1.a film you have seen more than once. This is because you will need to refer to detail that you probably won't get with one viewing
2.a novel you have read
3.a play you attended
4.a concert you attended
5.a comparison of a book to the movie based on it if you are familiar with both
6.If you have studied art, you might want to evaluate a work of art, such as a painting.
**** All play, movie, work of art, and movie titles are to be in italics, NOT quotes.
WARNING: You cannot merely tell the story of the film, play, or book. That would be a synopsis or summary of the work. This is not a "book report" to prove you read the book or saw the movie. You must pick three different aspects of the work to criticize and devote one paragraph to each of these. For example, if you write about a movie, here are some aspects to discuss: casting--were the actors believable in their roles?, acting--was it powerfully acted; were there any weak links?, direction, music, editing, score, costumes and make up, cinematography/effects, and writing. Please refer to these websites for film terms and film information, as you should know the names of the cast and crew.
If it is a book, what is the pacing? Is it slow to get started, or does it grab you right away? Is it "visual" in that you can imagine what everything looks like, or are the descriptions rather flat? Is the dialog believable or stilted?
NOTE ON ALL PAPERS: Don't EVER spend more than one paragraph in any essay telling the plot, as that is NOT evaluation; it is narration. I want each topic sentence to give an evaluation (critique) of a certain aspect of the work you choose to evaluate.
LENGTH: 1000-1200 words. Minimum of five full paragraphs of five sentences each.
Examples of Evaluation Papers
EXAMPLES OF A RECOMMENDATION ESSAY
Saving Private Ryan: Duane Donnally
There have been hundreds of movies made about war since cellulose was first wound into a movie camera over one hundred years ago. Photojournalists have captured battle scene footage as early as the Spanish-American War (1898-1901) using the miracles of motion picture. Though moving pictures had been used forty years earlier, scenes of battle previous to World War II were primarily captured using still photography. World War II saw the first mass scale documentation of any war. World War II came to huge numbers of Americans via newsreels that were shown in local movie houses. These newsreels were nothing more than propaganda aimed at selling war bonds and keeping Americans motivated to fight the great oppressors of Germany and Japan. The coverage of the Gulf War in 1991 was a media blitz and provided unparalleled moving visuals compared to any other war but failed to reveal the emotion of war. Additionally, movies depicting war have been sensational, and many have been reasonably factual in regards to what happened during battles. The large disparity over the past hundred years of newsreels, documentaries, and movies has been the inability to effectively capture the essence of war. Though many movie producers have tried, Steven Spielberg was the first to successfully capture and deliver the view of war through the eyes of the soldier in his movie Saving Private Ryan.
Movies have too often glorified war. There is absolutely nothing glamorous about fighting wars as any military historian or veteran will attest. War involves lives - lives that are changed forever and prematurely as a result of war. Movies over the years have served to glorify the event of war, and producers have not been without their motives. In an effort to rally American resolve and patriotism during times of war, movies were produced depicting the good guys and the bad guys. For example, heroes like John Wayne presented images in wartime movies that all red-blooded American boys wanted to imitate. These movies served the purpose of getting America involved in the war and did that well. In contrast, many movies in recent years have attempted to accurately portray wars but have been ineffective. Memphis Belle, a movie about a B-17 bomber and its crew in World War II, was historically a quality movie, but it still glorified flying and fighting. It was only partially successful in showing the human side of fighting and dying in war. Saving Private Ryan did anything but glorify war. Spielberg's depiction of the D-Day invasion on the beaches of France was brutal and realistic. His combination of visual effects and sound were extremely objective and dynamic. The viewers of this scene have their senses attacked, outraged, and mercilessly overwhelmed during the Utah Beach landing. There is nothing glorious about watching a soldier lying in the surf holding his own intestines or watching a teenage soldier screaming in terror trying to hide from machine gun fire behind a six inch wide piece of steel. Only the most absent of emotion could view this scene from Saving Private Ryan and feel any glory in war.
Moreover, Saving Private Ryan allows the viewer to experience the fear and pain of war through the eyes of the soldier. As the Higgins Boats (landing craft) approach the beach, the atmosphere is that of impending doom. The effects of the scene appear to be nearly black and white, yet the movie is filmed in color. The affect serves to capture the gloom and fear that is hanging in the air as the soldiers anxiously approach their unknown fate on the beach. Their faces are pale and drawn and show fear unlike any scene from any war movie before. Some of the soldiers are seasick and get physically ill. Other soldiers pray continuously. Those that aren't shot or drowned exiting the Higgins Boats find themselves stepping straight into the hell of machine gun fire and mortars. Actor Tom Hanks delivers the amazing and very believable character of Lieutenant Miller. Spielberg does a masterful job using gut wrenching images and sound to drive home the atmosphere the soldiers and more in particular, Lieutenant Miller, were subjected to. Lieutenant Miller is obviously overwhelmed with fear and disbelief during the first minutes of the landing, so much so, that he falls deaf and has trouble understanding his surroundings. The viewer can not help but feel the agony and fear that Miller and the other men on Utah Beach are experiencing.
In addition, Steven Spielberg identifies the frailties and misconceptions people have about war. As noted author and historian Steve E. Ambrose pointed out during an interview regarding Saving Private Ryan, the men that fought World War II did not want to be there. They wanted to be home playing baseball or raising their families. The movie constantly points out the frailty of the soldiers. This can be seen in the soldiers' uncontrollable anger as they slaughter German soldiers trying to surrender. Some soldiers, including Hank's character, break down and cry during stressful points in the battle. Men reflect on their lives back home before the war and dream of the time when they return. In fact, little conversation occurs without some reference to "back home." When General Marshall finds out about that three of the four Ryan brothers fighting the war have been killed, he is able to recite from memory a letter that Abraham Lincoln wrote to a mother during the Civil War regarding the loss of all of her sons. Marshall's character was deeply moved by the situation and demanded the return of the surviving Ryan to his mother. All of the soldiers had a deep attachment to their fellow soldiers, but survival always rose above emotion as the soldiers visibly hardened after each encounter. In the end, the mission always took precedence because they had a job to do.
All of the very real characteristics of a man's personality are displayed in the movie ? heroism, cowardice, fear, sorrow, reflection, leadership, and much more. All of these emotions and ideas shared the same stage. Steven Spielberg was able to achieve in Saving Private Ryan where other producers have too often failed. He was able to draw the viewer into the movie and to experience the event. Author and historian Steve E. Ambrose stated that there has never been a more realistic account of war than was portrayed in Saving Private Ryan. From the landing on Utah Beach at the beginning of the movie until the defiant defense of the bridge at the end of the movie, the viewer is taken on a journey unlike any other - a journey of emotion.
Douglas Duckson: 1984 **all novels should be italicized
In 1948, George Orwell, the author of Animal Farm, wrote the immortal work, 1984. The novel documents a turning point in the life of a man of the future, Winston Smith, who questions, subverts, and then is crushed by the totalitarian dictatorship of a fictitious future. The book was written at the start of the Cold War, when governments and people in western civilization were most afraid of the Red Threat, the rise of Communism, but after the thwarting of the Fascist and militaristic regimes of Germany and Japan. Readers of the period felt that Orwell was warning of a possible future, should the likes of Joseph Stalin and Soviet communism be allowed to expand. The fact is that Orwell was not warning as much as he was prophesizing in 1984 events that are commonplace in the world and particularly America, today.
Winston Smith's world of 1984 is divided into three countries: Oceania, Eastasia, and Eurasia. Smith lives in Airstrip One, formerly London, England, which is in Oceania. Oceania is comprised of what were Great Britain, North America, and Australia. Eastasia is Asia and Asia Minor. Eurasia is the European Continent. Oceania is constantly at war with one or the other of the other countries, with major battles being fought in Africa. An analogy can be inferred with alliances and trade agreements of today. North America is the largest trading partner of Great Britain, as it has been for over two hundred years. Further, North America is being drawn ever closer as one unit through the provisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement and the efforts many persons on both sides of the Mexico/United States borders to extend open borders as is between Canada and the US. Clearly, the cultures and the countries along with them are becoming more enmeshed. Likewise, we see the European Economic Community becoming the European Union with its shared currency, economy, and defense force. The EU is projecting further growth with the "westernization" of eastern European countries that clamber to become member nations. China, of course, is the largest country in the world with one-third of its population. It controls the governments of Tibet, Mongolia, and Hong Kong, and does not quibble in its desire to absorb or conquer neighboring regions such as Taiwan, Vietnam, or Korea. As its economy grows and its military might becomes larger, China will grow even larger in its influence and control of the Asian continent. All indicators of socio-economic development show that Orwell's vision of three major political powers in the world is going to be correct.
The government of Oceania keeps reign on its subjects through the efforts of the Thought Police. They are the enforcement arm of the government that monitors the actions of the people in their homes and in public through an apparatus called a "telescreen." The telescreen is not unlike a television in that it is used to broadcast news, training films, and propaganda from government sources. It is also, however, a live-feed audio/visual transmitter that is used by the thought police to identify "unorthodox" behavior. The people are constantly reminded through posters and other media that the leader of Oceania, "Big Brother is watching you." Today, so-called independent news media is used extensively by government to spread propaganda to garner public support for ideological positions that are not supported by fact and logic. The Clinton Administration and prominent members of the Democratic National Committee presented a very real example of this when arguments were broadcast to the masses alleging that the election of Republican leadership would starve children and retirees. The allegation was supported by a claim that Republicans would cut school lunch program grants and not fund Social Security increases. Another example of this is the selective airing of smart-bomb strikes and target locator video from strike aircraft during the Iraqi War in 1991. Such images convinced the viewer that "surgical strike capability" was a reality when, in fact, fewer that fifty percent of munitions dropped by Coalition Forces were on target. "Big Brother" in the form of government surveillance is a reality in today's world. Satellites in geo-synchronous orbit can read license plates on vehicles parked in front of a house. Cameras, installed and monitored by police, are overlooking public walkways in Miami and Great Britain, comparing digital images of pedestrians' faces with those of known criminal offenders. Narcotics officers in municipal police departments throughout California and other states are placing radio transponders under person's automobiles which allow the police to monitor and track their movements in real-time on laptop computer maps. All of this intrusion is available to the government without a warrant or other court order or authorization based on probable cause!
The Ministry of Truth is where facts and history are re-written. Winston Smith works in the Ministry of Truth, re-writing archival news stories to suit the political climate of the day. As Oceania is at war with one country, it is allied with the other and has always been so, according to official literature. The party propaganda put out by Smith and others like him states, for example, that Oceania is at war with Eastasia and has always been at war with Eastasia. Later though, when political climate and alliances change and Oceania is at war with Eurasia, the history is re-written to substantiate that war was always with Eurasia and not with Eastasia. This obvious contradiction of truths is called "doublethink" in the official language of Oceania called "Newspeak." Embracing the process of doublethink, two plus two can equal three, four, or five. The words "black" and "white" are combined to blackwhite, and can be used to name both colors on this page. The idea is to convert the language of thought processes to a soup of Newspeak that will stifle the independent thought processes. In our current society, histories of America's Founding Fathers are being re-written to reduce these men to less-than-giant status and to attack their intents and purposes contained in the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights. These men are being touted as having been rich, white slave owners who started the grand experiment with our Republic in order to fill their pockets with additional gold. This undermining of the original documents and their literal meaning has caused them to become malleable and subject to contradictory interpretation by the courts. Today's version of Newspeak is political correctness. Activities that were once labeled deviant behavior are now called alternative lifestyles and are to be embraced as normalcy. Physical traits that were once looked upon as negative features are embraced as challenges and given greater access than those who were once labeled healthy. Even the law has embraced doublethink with the adoption of "hate crimes" legislation. It is now even more against the law to murder another if the perpetrator can be shown to have had certain thoughts in his or her head at the time of the murder. Such crimes of thinking scream for Orwell's Thought Police.
George Orwell may very well have lost a huge audience when he transposed the year of his writing, 1948, to 1984. For years, unknowing people have thought of the novel as another science fiction work depicting the future from the past perspective. Soviet Communism under Stalin and his successors has fallen and become just another piece of history. Perhaps that is why it is not required reading in high schools anymore. More likely, though, educators that read the book see it for what it is ? a terrifying depiction of a globalized society with no national sovereignty, a manipulated press, and thought control. This depiction is now a mirror image of our society. Orwell had prophesied in 1948 what life would be like today and tomorrow. 1984 is more important to read today than ever before.
The Princess Bride: Christina Koser **All movie titles should be in italics!
I saw The Princess Bride for the first time sometime after its original theatrical release in 1987. I borrowed the video from a friend and immediately knew I had to own it myself. Directed by Rob Reiner, who has given us such entertaining and touching films as Stand By Me and When Harry Met Sally, it truly offers something for everyone. It is a love story, a comedy, a drama, an action adventure, and a fairytale, all rolled into one. It is well-written, has an interesting plot, is skillfully and sensitively directed and acted, was beautifully shot on location in Ireland, and is imbued with subtle humor throughout the entire charming piece. The Princess Bride is probably my all-time favorite movie and is a classic that belongs in every video collection.
The screenplay for the movie was adapted by William Goldman from his own delightful novel, The Princess Bride, The Good Parts. Goldman is an accomplished screenwriter, whose work includes Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Chaplin, and, more recently, Hearts in Atlantis. In The Princess Bride, he makes use of a clever literary gimmick, by purporting to abridge a book written by (non-existent) S. Morgenstern, adding his own editorial comments and notes throughout the book. Supposedly Goldman's father read him the book when he was a child, leaving out the boring parts. Director Rob Reiner makes effective use of a similar technique in the movie, as the entire fairytale is read by a grandfather (played perfectly by Peter Falk) to his sick grandson (Fred Savage). The grandfather supposedly skips "the kissing parts" and other less exciting sections. From time to time the action is halted by a comment from one or the other, as when the grandfather interrupts the story to reassure his grandson, "She doesn't get eaten by the eels at this time," referring to the title character.
The plot revolves around the love story between Buttercup and Westley, who are separated early on as he must go seek his fortune. (It is clear that this is an unpretentious fairytale that isn't to be taken too seriously. Why else would one name the heroine "Buttercup"?) Buttercup, believing Westley to be dead, is set to marry the evil Prince Humperdink, who is actually plotting to kill her in order to start a war. A secondary story involves the Spaniard, Inigo Montoya, who is out to avenge his father's death at the hands of the six-fingered Count Rugen. Westley must rescue Buttercup from the clutches of the Prince, but it takes a chocolate-coated miracle pill made by Miracle Max and some help from new friends Inigo and poetry-loving giant Fezzik to get the job done. The plot is sufficiently complicated, with some unexpected twists and turns, to retain the viewer's interest, while not being so involved as to be hard to follow.
The casting for this film is brilliant. Robin Wright (now Robin Wright-Penn) was a relative newcomer to Hollywood when she was cast for the role of Princess Buttercup, mostly because her appearance was exactly what the director and screenwriter had in mind for Buttercup. She did a creditable job with the part, even giving Buttercup a lilting British accent (Wright grew up in Texas). Carey Elwes makes the perfect Westley, moving easily from light sarcasm to swashbuckling heroism. My favorite character is Mandy Patinkin's Inigo Montoya. Although Inigo is primarily motivated by his desire for revenge, he comes across as warm and personable, and more honorable than most Spaniards, apparently. One can't help cheer him on when he finally gets to utter his long-rehearsed line to his arch-enemy, Count Rugen, (spoken with an entertaining Spanish accent) "Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die." Andre the Giant does a decent job as Fezzik although it is sometimes hard to understand his speech. (Rob Reiner probably didn't have too many giants to choose from to cast in this role.) The threesome of henchmen is rounded out by Wallace Shawn, later the voice of the neurotic T. Rex in Toy Story, who is utterly perfect as the haranguing, underhanded Vizzini, hired by the Prince to kidnap Buttercup. Chris Sarandon and Christopher Guest do very good work as Prince Humperdink and Count Rugen, respectively. The fabulous Billy Crystal is Miracle Max, and Carol Kane is his wife, Valerie. Their very funny scene is vintage Billy Crystal, as evidenced by the line he says when he is presented with a dead body to work a miracle on, "I've seen worse."
Rob Reiner's sensitive direction doesn't leave anything to chance, and he adds a touch of realism to this fairytale by the choice of location. The film was mostly shot in Ireland, in some very wild and medieval looking terrain ? perfect for the dramatic chase across the Guilder frontier. There are some breathtaking panoramic views, such as the scene where Westley is revealed to Buttercup, right after she pushes him down into a steep ravine. Realizing her mistake, she tumbles down after him. Several other scenes take place inside the Prince's castle, which looks very authentic inside (cold, drafty, with tapestries draped here and there) and out (Old World, slightly ruinous).
The unpretentious humor of The Princess Bride is interspersed throughout the film and is what makes it such a joy. The humor is light and subtle, not heavy-handed and dependent on pratfalls and spoofs. As the three henchmen are being followed by the mysterious Man in Black after they have kidnapped the princess, Vizzini repeatedly says that it is "inconceivable" that anyone could keep up with them. Finally, Inigo pauses and looks thoughtfully at Vizzini. "You keep on using that word," he says in his thick accent. "I do not think it means what you think it means." I'm not sure why, but it is very funny. Soon after, during a perfectly choreographed swordfight scene, Westley and Inigo chat lightly, comparing notes on fencing techniques, admiring one another's skill, then getting back to the business at hand. Near the end there is a sequence that is hysterically funny, as Westley (who has been "mostly dead all day") can barely hold his head up, and is attempting to lead a castle onslaught to rescue the Princess. Lucky for him there is a giant around to help. Even though it is laugh-out-loud funny, the humor doesn't overshadow the charming story.
The Princess Bride really does have something for everyone. At the beginning of the movie, the grandson, reluctant to be dragged away from his video games, wants to know if the book has sports. "Are you kidding?" answers the grandfather. "Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles." "Doesn't sound too bad. I'll try to stay awake," is the less-than-enthusiastic response from the grandson. By the end, he (like the viewer) is truly transported to another place, and he asks his grandfather to come back and "read it to me tomorrow." "As you wish," is the grandfather's touching answer. The Princess Bride is a charming and clever romantic fairytale, or a comedic action adventure, or so many other things. Anyone who has never seen it should rent it, and most likely he or she will want to own a copy. Until recently, it was hard to find copies of The Princess Bride for sale, but it has now been released on DVD, and thankfully it can be found at some video stores and at many online reseller sites.
What makes a Classic Action Movie: Dave Pjontek **movie titles are in italics
Opinions about movies have a great deal to do with personal entertainment tastes, but there is a unique mix of ingredients for each type of movie that can make it good. The movie may be a feel good lighthearted romance like You've Got Mail, or maybe comedy is what the doctor ordered, and Happy Gilmore may get the call. Also, hard hitting dramas, exciting thrillers, or totally outrageous science fiction flicks are some of the choices available. However, all movies have the same ingredients: a screenplay, character portrayals by actors, and the visual presentation, but every type of movie has a formula that mixes the ingredients just a little differently. It is the quality and proportions of each ingredient that makes the movie a winner or one that receives a two-thumbs down rating. The Action adventure movie, for example, must be fast paced, intriguing, and visually stimulating, but its personality can range from deadly serious to lighthearted fun. One of the most successful action adventure films ever made is Raiders of the Lost Ark, and it spans this full range in its furious action sequences to the personal quirks of its hero. This film tracks the adventures of Indiana Jones, a professor of Archeology searching for the Ark of the Covenant and battling his arch rival Belloq, who is working for the Nazis in the late 1930's. This film is a fine example of how to make a good action adventure movie, and its imaginative screenplay, exciting character portals, and visually stunning special effects make it a winner.
An imaginative screenplay, a foundational element to a successful action movie, contains a continuous flow of exciting situations that are woven into an intriguing plot which force the hero to perform seemingly impossible feats to overcome the obstacles to success. For example, the opening sequence of Raider of the Lost Ark places the hero, Dr. Jones, in a trap-laden abandoned temple of an ancient civilization searching for a golden idol. This sequence has Dr. Jones perform incredible acts of ingenuity and agility that introduce the audience to his special talents and also to his crafty and opportunistic nemesis, Belloq. This incredible introduction sets the pace for the rest of the movie. Additionally, the screenplay must provide the dialogue that develops both the story and the characters to maintain the interest of the audience. For example, a glimpse into the personality of Dr. Jones, which increases the depth of the character, is provided by his description of the Ark to the Secret Servicemen and later his bargaining session in the Tibetan tavern with a young woman from his past. Additionally, a parallel storyline tracks the efforts of the bad guys, in this case the Nazi SS, that are constantly on the heel of Dr. Jones and demonstrating their willingness to stop at nothing to achieve their goals. The screenplay, while providing the structure and dialogue for the movie, does not bring life to the characters; this is the craft of the actor.
The characters are the catalysts that create a connection to the audience; the characters must be admired, despised, believed, and enjoyed to make the movie a winner. Merely reading the script and saying the words does not bring life to the character, but the actor adds the soul. Harrison Ford's voice and facial expressions perfectly fit the character of Dr. Jones. For example, when Dr. Jones stairs down into the Well of Souls and says, "Snakes, why did it have to be snakes, I hate snakes", everyone in the audience feels that crawly feeling in their stomachs. Furthermore, scenes like the shooting of the swordsman dressed in black and the fight with the German aviator demonstrate that he is only human, but he has this incredible ability for staying alive. Other characters in this movie are also portrayed perfectly, and although the performance would not be suitable for a serious drama, they are wonderful portrayals for this adventure. Some examples include the German SS agent with a propensity for torture, the large Egyptian friend of Dr. Jones, the feisty heroine, and the villain Belloq. All of these performances make for an enjoyable, entertaining, and engaging movie, but the knockout punch is delivered by the special effects.
A final must have ingredient for the action movie to be a success is visual impact; it will take the viewer to far away places, into the future or back in time, create an emotional impact, and dazzle the audience with visual effects. Raiders of the Lost Ark provides the viewers with action packed excitement at every turn in the script, and leaves them feeling some of Indiana's bruises. However, the style of visual effects is not so high tech that they steal the show, but they emphasize the humanity of Dr. Jones and his ability to narrowly escape certain death. Furthermore, the format of the visual effects perfectly fit the serial episode style of the thirties and forties, and the larger than life atmosphere of the entire movie. For example, scenes like the Tibetan tavern, the Map Room of Tanas, and the struggle with the German truck driver make this movie unforgettable. All of these scenes are of a style that relies on the physical agility of the performer, the ingenuity of the set designers, and just enough wizardry to amaze the viewers. This visual style is the trademark of Indiana Jones in this movie and is continued in the two sequels that follow with equal success.
Many action movies have done wonderfully at the box office, but Raiders of the Lost Ark is one of the best drawing a wide base of devoted fans. It has the correct mix of ingredients that make it a winner: a great screenplay, character portrayals that are right on the money, and a visual presentation that is exciting at every turn. It is the quality and proportions of these ingredients that make this movie a must see for any action adventure fan. There are movies that are more suspenseful, more frightening, more visually exciting, but Raiders of the Lost Ark with its perfect mix of furious action sequences, its lighthearted relief, and the personal quirks of Indiana Jones make it a classic.
The Prince of Tides: Rachel Empey
The world of communication in our culture has drastically changed over the past few decades. Cell phones, pagers, and email have taken the place of getting together to talk over lunch. The busy pace of our lifestyles has reduced us to communicating on a level that can seem so cold and distant. It is inevitable that our society will always continue to grow and every day offer a new electronic "convenience;" however, electronics will never be able to replace the arts in our culture or their participation in effective communication within our society. There will never be an electronic replacement for the healing power of music, the ability to escape to a new world within the pages of a book, or the captivating power of theatrical arts. Movies, for instance, have a way of taking an audience by the hand and exploring the most intricate aspects of life. The on-screen experience allows us to witness life's joy and to share in each other's pain. It is therapeutic to watch as a character works through life's difficulties and offers the viewer hope for survival. The Prince of Tides is a film that offers such hope. With grace, The Prince of Tides tastefully explores the sensitive subject of emotional trauma, and allows the audience to take part in the journey of healing.
It isn't until we become adults that we realize the sensitivity of our childhood years. The self-examination that begins during our adolescence and continues throughout adulthood often includes questioning how we came to be the individuals that we are. The answers to such questions are quite often rooted in the developmental stage of our childhood years. Tom, the main character in The Prince of Tides, has done his best to avoid even remembering his childhood. Only because of the latest suicide attempt of his sister Savanah does Tom agree to walk down his painful path of memories. With an interesting new approach, this movie examines the effects of childhood trauma on an adult male? a rare thing to see as such a role is usually reserved for a female character. The bravery of this character cries out for the compassion of the audience as he places himself in the vulnerable position of exposing his wounds to a female psychiatrist. He shares with her the most intimate feelings of shame, betrayal, and confusion, allowing her to see the deepest parts of his soul, as he stops to examine them for the first time himself. With a sympathetic heart, the viewer accompanies Tom on his emotional journey of realization-- realization that no one can hide from his past and lead an emotionally healthy life at the same time.
This film not only includes the uncommon situation of a male character examining the details of painful childhood experiences, it goes even further by including sexual abuse as one of those details. Our society usually portrays women as victims of sexual abuse, therefore making it even more difficult for a man to move past the shameful feelings that accompany such experiences. Tom's character in The Prince of Tides accepts the unique challenge of overcoming the shame involved with sexual abuse. At the young age of ten, Tom becomes a victim of rape and assault to an escaped convict. While he physically survives the incident, we witness as Tom's childhood innocence is destroyed and replaced with wounded numbness. The courage of this movie and its characters offer an empowering message of hope and survival, as we watch Tom face the realities of this event and its impact on his life. He struggles to accept the fact that such an atrocity can actually happen to a boy, and he comes to understand that such a horrific circumstance does not affect his ability to be a "man." Tom's painful journey becomes one of healing as he acknowledges his wounds and learns to use them as tools for growth and understanding rather than anger and dissonance. It is a message of strength and optimism for young men facing similar situations, for such comforting messages are rare to see.
Another unique aspect of this movie is the relationship between Tom and his psychiatrist, Susan. Susan Lowenstein is an extremely successful, high-society professional, whom Tom ends up falling in love with. Their relationship starts off as one of tension and frustration and ends up being one of passion and intimacy. At first he resents her and her imposing questions; then over time, he becomes preoccupied with the feelings of closeness and healing she invokes in him. It is interesting to see what happens when a woman is cast in a role of "power" at the same time the male character is so vulnerable. Interesting even more as we see her character fulfill most of the archetypes women are known for, just within the realm of their relationship. It is established at the beginning of the film that she is a professional; throughout their sessions she takes on the role of a "comforter," usually associated with more of a maternal archetype; and in the end she becomes his lover. All of these roles build on each other throughout the movie as the trust between Susan and Tom continues to grow. It is a beautiful and crucial aspect of this film that a female is cast as Tom's psychiatrist; Tom's relationship with his mother played a large part in his childhood trauma, and ironically it is a woman who rescues him from the pain of his past. This sends an empowering message of strength and influence to all women.
Life is a journey, a journey that for many includes times of pain and suffering. The most important message to send to someone in pain is that he/she is not alone. The Prince of Tides does an excellent job of sending that message, all the while providing proof of the communication power of the arts. The audience, allowed to take part in a very intimate and personal experience, is witness to subjects that are often avoided because of the shame associated with them. The courage of the characters in this movie offers a message of hope and survival. It is important to realize that sometimes healing and comfort will be welcomed more coming from something as non-threatening as a movie; and this should definitely be appreciated, as there are some circumstances where the message might not be heard otherwise.
Colors: Robert Ratcliffe **movies are in italics
With hundreds of police dramas to choose from, only a select few actually overcome the Hollywood touch of unrealistic phenomena. That is to say few movies directly related to police work actually keep reality as the basis of the motion picture. Many films are tainted with wild one-man rescues, explosions, and feats of super human strength. Sometimes they have scenes that contain all three, such as the explosive car chase where the officer manages to shoot out the tires of the suspect while driving the police vehicle on two wheels. Even with the introduction of the American audience to such reality television shows like, "Cops" or "Real Stories of the Highway Patrol", Hollywood still thinks the big screen is a place to fictionalize police work. The American public does support this phenomenon as proven by box office ticket sales to action packed, unrealistic, and down right ridiculous films that leave reality all together. One such film that does not allow typical Hollywood characteristics to over-shadow the realism of police work was the 1980s film, Colors. This film was loosely based on the real life story of officers from the Los Angeles Police Department's first "CRASH" unit in the 1970s. From the script writing to the direction, the film followed a realistic pattern of actual police officers. Through some outstanding acting by Robert Duvall and Sean Penn, Colors allowed the audience to understand some real-life trials that really do face officers then as well as today.
In reality-based shows, the relationship between partner officers can not be clearly shown in the typical thirty-minute program. On the big screen, Hollywood generally places characters together that show one, usually the star, as being a physically stronger, mentally stronger personality than that of the partner. Hollywood seems to want the audience to enjoy rooting for the star to either care for the partner by saving them or by eliminating them if he/she is a bad cop. This film pairs two officers that are very different from one-another. One officer, portrayed by Robert Duvall, is considerably older and more senior. He shows that he is wise to the ways of the streets and personally knows most of the older gang-members. His new partner, portrayed by Sean Penn, is a young hard charging officer who simply wants to take everyone to jail. This is not an uncommon pairing of personalities in real-life modern police work. The idea that the older, more senior officer can mentor the younger officer and the younger officer can re-ignite the older officer's passion to do police work is one that drives the story line. This pairing of young and old together is also true in real life policing. As the two characters move from one incident to the next, they continue to have conflicts between themselves. However, when they start to work together, they find themselves a viable, believable team of police officers.
While some films depict police officers as rogues who walk the edge of the legal system, this film allowed the audience to see conflict, action, and drama without liberal views of police officers breaking the law or being corrupt. Colors showed a clear, "us against them" message. Not only did this message show the police against the criminals; it also showed the true hatred that forms between rival groups such as the Bloods and the Crips of South Central Los Angeles. The film touched on an officer's personal life being sullied by his job when Sean Penn's character becomes romantically involved with a woman he met while working. This woman turns out to be related to members of a street gang that he had been working to stop. There were no twisting Hollywood plots in this story, but rather a simple example of how an officer can be drawn into the world he is trying so hard to change.
The two different styles of police work demonstrated by the two characters are typical of modern law enforcement officers. The senior officer wants to talk to the criminals he contacts and lull them into giving him the information he needs to fight the gang problem. The younger officer is just looking for a fight and thinks everyone who breaks the law should go directly to jail. The movie contains scenes that demonstrate these two methods at work by both officers. The two are in conflict with each other, but soon seem to learn to respect their partner's way of doing business. The older partner teaches the younger officer how to gain information by allowing a low-grade crime to go unpunished in turn for information. Later, the younger officer becomes involved in a life or death struggle with the same petty criminal who was set free in exchange for the information. This caused the two officers to see the validity of each other's policing style, while continuing a conflict between them. Interesting points such as this in the story line make this movie very interesting to the audience without making the film unbelievable.
The heart of this movie centers on the growing relationship between two professional law enforcement officers from different generations of the job. They are brought together in an atmosphere of the justice system that few police officers, much less civilians, ever see. These two characters show that they have real lives outside of law enforcement. Robert Duvall's character showing he lives a happy family life with his wife and son. Sean Penn portrays a young officer, who is struggling to find happiness outside of his job. He learns from what he sees in his new-found partner. These are real life scenarios that play out in all professions. The audience of this film can relate to this type of character development. By the conclusion of the movie, both partners have grown to understand the other. They still may not agree on the best way to carry out police work, but they are beginning to learn. The police action in this film is believable, and a great deal of it is based on real events. This film contained an appropriate amount of action and a fine character driven story line. It reflected the daily heroic acts of two police officers as they do their best to combat criminal street gangs. From the opening scene until the final rebirth of a new generation of officer, this film gives the audience something to appreciate and really think about.
The Stand: Jeri White ** Names of books are in italics or underlined
Stephen King has written over thirty novels with an estimated 100 million copies currently in print. He has authored several collections of short stories including Skeleton Crew, Different Seasons, Danse Macabre, Night Shift, and Nightmares and Dreamscapes. King has also co-authored two books with Peter Straub (The Talisman and Black House), and written two serialization novels. He authored several books under the pseudonym Richard Bachman in the 1980s including Thinner, Rage, and The Running Man. Many of King's stories have been made into feature films such as Carrie, The Shining, Christine, Misery, The Dead Zone, and Firestarter, and television miniseries such as Salem's Lot, It, and The Stand. Although mostly known as a master horror writer, Stephen King has also written stories with not a hint of the supernatural. Stand by Me and The Shawshank Redemption are two excellent examples. Although The Stand was one of King's earliest novels (written in 1978), it is by far his finest body of work.
The story is immediately gripping with its beginning in a military facility in Atlanta. This facility is a viral biology lab where various viruses are produced and studied for possible use in biological warfare. After an accident releases a lethal virus, the facility is automatically shut down, but not before one man escapes. This man is well aware of the ramifications of fleeing the building, but fear is his prime motivator, and because he is so afraid, he runs as second nature. He goes home, grabs his family, and heads west trying to escape what he knows to be the inevitable. What follows shows just how quickly one contaminated person can infect first one, then another, then scores of other people who in turn infect scores of others. The virus has a 99.4% communicability rate, and soon the entire United States becomes aware of this virus as people become sick and then die within a matter of days. It doesn't take long for the virus to spread worldwide (one infected person hopping a plane and infecting everyone on that plane, many of those passengers making connections at the next airport. What makes for such a fascinating story is not the virus itself (dubbed the "Super Flu" or "Captain Trips") but the few who remain healthy and unaffected by it. All over the world, only 0.3% of mankind has a naturally occurring antibody to this particular virus. These survivors embark on a journey that leads to the ultimate battle between good and evil.
The characters in The Stand are richly drawn and so graphically depicted that the reader becomes completely enmeshed in each character's story. Stu is a stand-up kind of guy, a real man's man, from a small town where the originally infected military man comes to the end of his life. Stu becomes quarantined in Atlanta and used as a guinea pig because of his immunity. He is able to escape the military compound when all of the people involved in testing him become sick and die. Fran is a young girl who has just found out that she is pregnant. The father of her unborn child dies of Captain Trips, leaving Fran to wonder throughout the story at the fate of her child. Nick is a deaf mute who befriends a developmentally disabled man named Tom. Larry is a rock star with a drug problem. All of these characters have one thing in common: they dream of an old African-American woman named Mother Abigail. Mother Abigail is 108 years old and lives on a farm in Nebraska. The characters feel a strong need to migrate toward her. She embodies the ultimate "good" in this story. The ultimate "evil" in this story is a character named Randall Flagg, aka "The Walking Dude," aka "The Dark Man." Ironically this character resides in Las Vegas. All of the survivors who lean toward the darker side of life have dreams of Flagg and migrate toward him in the desert.
Along the way to the final confrontation between good and evil, there are friendships made and lost, love fallen into and out of, and betrayal. King's story makes for thought provoking reading as the reader realizes just how easy it would be for a young person with a confused sense of identity to turn from a basically good person into a follower of evil. He also shows how the ordinary man (or woman) can do extraordinary things given the right set of circumstances. King manages to manipulate the reader masterfully by drawing such rich characters and making the story so compelling that it is a difficult book to put down. Each character's story becomes a personal story for the reader. The reader is left to wonder about a world where there is no longer any law enforcement to stop robbery or enforce traffic laws. Of course there are hardly enough people left in the world to care about those kinds of things anyway. Although at times hard to read (bodies being disposed of, horrible symptoms of the flu itself) there will be much missed if the reader skips a single part of the book. There is just too much happening and too many important details.
When first published in 1978, The Stand was considered too long by the publisher at 1,200 pages, and King edited the book down to a more reasonable 823 pages. More than twenty years later, it was re-released in an original version. Although reading a book this long might seem a daunting task, The Stand is up for the challenge. There is never a dull moment even in the "uncut" version. Although not his usual type of horror, The Stand is the novel of ultimate horror, the end of life as we know it and the possible destruction of an honest and noble society. Considering the events of the last six weeks, this book is even more frightening. At the time of its publication, it doesn't seem like such an impossibility. The Stand shows just how devastating a single accident involving a deadly virus can be. This book stays in the back of the mind long after it is finished.
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