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Section C: US Film


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Section C: US Film

  1. 1. Robert Mulligan, 1962 Joel Schumacher, 1996
  2. 2. What makes the films similar?Canton,MississippiMaycomb,Alabama‘white supremacistdoctrine of southernculture’‘Ulrich Phillips define race as “thecentral theme of southern history”’**‘the centrality of race in southern culturetestifies to the profound influence of raceon southern identity…’‘…the legacy ofinstitutionalized racism, firstin the form of slavery, then inthat of segregation, confersto race a specific dimensionthat cannot be ignored’‘white lawyer as aliberal hero’Three genres ‘courtroomdrama, race movie,southern film’racial violence [constructed]to link their criminality to‘an inherent characteristic ofclass rather than race’**Confederate flag – a symbol of theSouth’s separation from the Northand historic reluctance to abolishslavery – in essence a symbol ofracismAll quotes taken from ‘Burning Mississippi: Race, Fatherhood and the South in A Time To Kill (1996) – by Helene Charlery
  3. 3. Key Themes• Racism/ Racial Intolerance/ Racial Inequality(Bigotry)• Justice and the Law• Perspective (Being in someone else’s shoes)• Moral Courage/ Bravery• Ethics (knowing right from wrong)
  4. 4. Racism/ Racial Intolerance/Racial Inequality (Bigotry)• Intolerance• a. Unwilling to tolerate differences in opinions, practices, or beliefs,especially religious beliefs.• b. Opposed to the inclusion or participation of those different fromoneself, especially those of a different racial, ethnic, or social background.• Tolerance• The capacity for or the practice of recognizing and respecting the beliefsor practices of others• Bigotry• The attitude, state of mind, or behaviour characteristic of a bigot;intolerance.• Bigot• One who is strongly partial to ones own group, religion, race, or politicsand is intolerant of those who differ.
  5. 5. Racism/ Racial Intolerance/Racial Inequality (Bigotry)• Black vs. White• This film is not about whether a father shouldkill his daughters’ rapists. It is about whether ablack man should ever be allowed to kill awhite man, under any circumstances. Theissue is not murder but bigotry, and it iscompounded by the fact that America isprimarily a white country.
  6. 6. Racism/ Racial Intolerance/Racial Inequality (Bigotry)• Black vs. White• From the outset of the film the audience areprovided with sequences of film that make itclear that even though the film is set within aprogressive time period Canton is a town thatstill holds on to the ideas of the past.
  7. 7. Racism/ Racial Intolerance/Racial Inequality (Bigotry)• The music at the start of the film links in withconnotations of the Deep South this is furthercompounded when we see Billy Ray Cobb andPete Willard (James Louis "Pete" Willard)driving the pickup truck with the confederateflag hanging in side – a perfect picture ofstereotypical rednecks
  8. 8. Racism/ Racial Intolerance/Racial Inequality (Bigotry)• Their confrontation with the black shop keeper signalsthe racial divide in Canton – they talk down to him inderogatory terms and the use of racial epithets. Thesetting (mise-en-scene) of the black owned store alsorepresents the economic deprivation of the area butthe fact that Billy and Pete are shopping there showsthat they too are of a low social standing.
  9. 9. Racism/ Racial Intolerance/Racial Inequality (Bigotry)• This setting is in stark contrast to when we first meetJake and we are presented with an immaculate almosthistorical looking house with a white picket fence andhis friend (Harry Rex) who comes to pick him up in aconvertible car. – Racial inequality is signalled throughthe representation of ‘haves’ and ‘have not’(economically)
  10. 10. Racism/ Racial Intolerance/Racial Inequality (Bigotry)• A sense of time moving on is signalled through thepresence of a black sheriff, who was voted in in a townwhere the majority vote is white. But tensions are stillshown when Sheriff Ozzie Walls arrests Billy and Pete.Words are exchanged such ‘nigger’ and ‘red neck’.Walls arrests them in a bar that is clearly ‘white’ andracist – confederate flag seen again.
  11. 11. Racism/ Racial Intolerance/Racial Inequality (Bigotry)• We are made aware that there is still racialsegregation in the town – because whenSheriff Walls fetches Cobb and Willard fromthe jail he says ‘if I get any trouble out of anyof you I’m going to integrate this jail’
  12. 12. Racism/ Racial Intolerance/Racial Inequality (Bigotry)• In the town racism issignalled though thefact that both Jake andBuckley know that forthere to be a fair trialthere needs to bechange of venue.• Buckley and his team - discuss that Jake willfile for a change of venue ‘he’d be a fool if hedidn’t’. If the trial stays in Clanton it will be anall-white jury for sure – meaning no sympathyvote and more chance of prejudice.Institutionalisedracism
  13. 13. Racism/ Racial Intolerance/Racial Inequality (Bigotry)• No change of venue meant that Carl wasn’ttrialled by a jury of his peers. Buckley -‘Without blacks on the jury Hailey hasn’t got achance in hell.’ Jakes application forchange of venue is thwarted at every chance.They have their own racial prejudiceand the majority believe Hailey to beguilty before the trial has even begun
  14. 14. Racism/ Racial Intolerance/Racial Inequality (Bigotry)• ‘Mr Brigance let me be frank, Mr Hailey’s case has far reachingimplications, Carl Lee’s acquittal for the killings of two white menwill do for the black people of Mississippi than any even since weintegrated the schools. His conviction on the other hand will be aslap at us a symbol of deep seated racism perhaps enough to ignitenation. See how important this case is?’‘We raised that money forthese men to get you out ofhere not for this cracker…’NAACP
  15. 15. Racism/ Racial Intolerance/Racial Inequality (Bigotry)• Carl Lee Hailey found not guilty, this verdict cannot beexplained away by just stating that if shows theprogressive ideologies of the South because it doesn’t.He was found not guilty because Jake got the jury toimagine that Tonya was white – so in essence to forgetHailey was black and in fact one of them – bigotry isnever taken out of the equation.‘justice is andwill be colourblind’Jake Brigance
  16. 16. Racism/ Racial Intolerance/Racial Inequality (Bigotry)Black women tookjobs as live indomesticsBob and MayellaEwell – ‘rednecks’The film is set in Alabama, in the DeepSouth of America. Here racial intolerance iswoven into the fabric of society. This racialintolerance and inequality permeates theinfrastructure of the legal system and isinstitutionalised.Bigotry is communicated as the keynarrative catalystTom RobinsonINNOCENTAtticus FinchTHE MORALCOMPASSHissummationis keySegregation -Courthouse
  17. 17. Racism/ Racial Intolerance/Racial Inequality (Bigotry)• During the Depression era, blacks were still highlysubjugated members of society. Blacks were not permittedto commingle with whites in public setting. This isexemplified in the courthouse, physical separation of racesand in the clearly distinct black and white areas of town.Moreover, things like intermarriage were almost unheardof, and sorely looked down upon.Jem, Scout and DillBlackWhite
  18. 18. Racism/ Racial Intolerance/Racial Inequality (Bigotry)• Bob Ewell refers to Tom as a nigger when talking to Atticus “Captain I’mreal sorry they picked you to defend that nigger that raped my Mayella. Idon’t know why I didn’t kill him myself instead of going to the sheriff…” –(the use of the word conjures up an atmosphere of hatred).• Atticus makes it clear that he intends to defend Tom Robinson – Atticusdoesn’t seem to have time or patience for Ewell.• Atticus ‘I’ve been appointed to defend Tom Robinson now that he hasbeen charged that what I intend to do’• Clear class divide between Bob and AtticusEwell calls Atticus a‘nigger lover’
  19. 19. Racism/ Racial Intolerance/Racial Inequality (Bigotry)• Scout: “Atticus do youdefend niggers?”• Atticus: “Don’t say niggerScout”• Scout: “I didn’t say itCecil Jacobs did, that’swhy I had to fight him”• Atticus explains that he is defending a Negro, Tom Robinson, andthat Scout isn’t old enough to understand the situation, andpeople are saying that he shouldn’t defend Tom. Scout wants toknow why he is defending Tom. Atticus says he wouldn’t be ableto hold his head up in town if he didn’t. He says that he couldn’ttell her and Jem not to do something again – he lives his life in avirtuous way to be an example to his children. He is the moralcompass of the town and for his family.
  20. 20. Racism/ Racial Intolerance/Racial Inequality (Bigotry)• “…She tempted a Negro. Shewas white, and she tempted aNegro. She did somethingthat, in our society, isunspeakable. She kissed a blackman. Not an old uncle, but astrong, young Negro man…”• “She is the victim of cruel povertyand ignorance. But my pity. does notextend so far as to her putting amans life at stake, which she hasdone in an effort to get rid of her ownguilt. Now I say "guilt,"gentlemen, because it was guilt thatmotivated her. Shes committed nocrime. She has merely broken a rigidand time-honoured code of oursociety...”Atticus’ summation iskey, because it spells outto us, in no uncertainterms the bigotry behindthe Ewell’s falsifiedclaimsShe crossed the colour line
  21. 21. Racism/ Racial Intolerance/Racial Inequality (Bigotry)• “The witnesses for the State, with the exception ofthe sheriff of Maycomb County have presentedthemselves to you gentlemen, to this court in thecynical confidence that their testimony would notbe doubted. Confident that you gentlemen wouldgo along with them on the assumption the evilassumption that all Negroes lie, all Negroes arebasically immoral beings, all Negro men are not tobe trusted around our women. An assumption thatone associates with minds of their caliber…”Atticus’ summation iskey, because it spells outto us, in no uncertainterms the bigotry behindthe Ewell’s falsifiedclaims
  22. 22. WHAT IS THE KEY LINK BETWEEN THETWO FILMS?• Key link between the two films isthat they are both set in the DeepSouth of America, in neighbouringstates Alabama and Mississippi.Race is a ‘central theme ofsouthern history’ (historian UlrichPhillips) and is key to the linkbetween these two films but thetime difference allows us toapproach a discussion of whetherthe messages and values havechanged. In the South… the legacyof institutionalized racism, first inthe form of slavery, then in that ofsegregation, confers to racespecific dimension [in both films]that cannot be ignored . (HeleneCharlery)
  23. 23. Justice and the LawHow do these charactersrepresent the theme ofJustice and the Law?Atticus FinchMayella & Bob EwellBoo RadleyTom RobinsonSheriffHeck TateEllen RoarkD.A. Rufus BuckleyFreddie Lee CobbJake BriganceCarl Lee HaileySheriffOzzie WallsDeputy WillieHastingsThe Jury
  24. 24. Justice* and theLawEllen RoarkD.A. Rufus BuckleyJake Brigance- Takes the law into his own hands- Joins the KKK – reign terror on Jakeand his family and Ethel- ’10 years ago that nigger would behanging by the end of a rope with isballs in his mouth, you tell me what’swrong with this country?’You can win this case andjustice will prevail, but loseand justice will also prevail,now that’s a strange case- Buckley ‘Without black on the jury Hailey hasn’tgot a chance in hell’- Application for change of venue stopped atevery chance- A contest of strategies more important thanunbiased presentation of evidence- Jury selection- Jake ‘justice is and will be colour blind’ – IRONY- Refer to Jake’s summation – key lines would berelevant to this themeThe film unsettles theaudience in tis depictionof the ‘justice’ system atwork, spectators areencouraged to questionwhat is justice?- Takes the law into his own hands – butthis seems to be justified* through theway the film uses the theme ofperspective and the use of film language(the construction of the shooting andthe flag outside the court house)- As he shoots music soundtrack gospelsong ‘Take my hand precious Lord’Freddie Lee Cobb- Tries to get evidence under falsepretences and then breaks andenters to get itCarl Lee Hailey*JUSTIFIEDdefensible, right, acceptable, correct, reasonable, warranted, necessary*JUSTICEFairness, impartiality, honesty, integrityNo character expresses faithin the justice systemRacism at the root of corruption
  25. 25. Justice and the LawAtticus FinchBoo RadleyTom RobinsonSheriffHeck TateThe film presents a judicial system that doesn’tpractice what it preaches- Idealistically believe in the Americanjustice system and that justice willprevail- He believes strongly that despite socialinequalities, all men are equal in thecourtroom – compare with Jake- Refer to Atticus’ summation – key lineswould be relevant to this theme- Boo is never arrested forthe murder of Bob Ewell –how is this justified?- Is he corrupt for notarresting Boo?- Injustices of a racist judicialsystem saw Tom go to jailand believe the Ewellfalsified evidenceThe blue jay is a very common bird, andis often perceived as a bully and a pest,whereas mockingbirds do nothing but"sing their hearts out for us".Metaphorically, several of the books(movie’s) characters can be seen as"mockingbirds", attacked despite doingnothing but good. The mockingbirdrepresents innocence, and to kill one isto metaphorically kill innocence. Notethat several of the main protagonists arenamed after birds: Scout, Jem, AtticusFinch, and Tom Robinson.Mayella & Bob Ewell
  26. 26. Moral Courage/ Bravery• The majority of the themes encourage theaudience to question their beliefs andjudgement of what is right and wrong.• With the theme of Moral courage/ bravery wequestion which characters truly are brave?
  27. 27. Moral Courage/ Bravery• We see Carl entering thecourthouse and finding aplace to hide• Birds eye shot is used to showhim walking across thepainting on the floor – aneagle, the US flag and themotto of Mississippi "Virtuteet Armis“• Zoom out from dead Cobb andWillard to birds eye shot toview the painting on the flooragain (2)
  28. 28. Moral Courage/ Bravery• This Mississippi state motto is a Latin motto andin English it means “By Valor and Arms”. "Valor"may be interpreted as courage and the intendedmeaning of "arms" may be strength.Interestingly, the Mississippi motto may have itsroots and inspiration from another motto with asubtle, but somewhat different message. Thismotto created by Lord Gray De Wilton: "VirtuteNon Armis Fido" (I trust in virtue not arms).• How does the mise-en-scene work to justifyCarl’s actions?VIRTUE: Moral excellence and righteousness; goodness.
  29. 29. Moral Courage/ Bravery• Jake at home with family – sitting down to watch himon TV – he says on news report ‘justice is and will becolour blind’• Threats via phone made to Jake ‘Brigance you niggerlovin’ son of a bitch, you won’t live if the nigger walks’(3)• Jake talking to news reporters seen on Cobbs TV – hesays that he wants to show that people in the southcan see past colour• Jake: ‘Some folks think that a black man cannot receivea fair trial in the South, …look past colour and see thetruth’. (4)
  30. 30. Moral Courage/ BraveryJake speaks with his in-laws they areconcerned – after a church service, reportersare outside, says he will speak with them, hiswife says it’s not the time, he goes anyway.Clearly she is concerned about how caught upher husband is getting with the case. Also Jakesays that their number has been changed toan unlisted number – due to threat they havebeen getting. (4)Rex: ‘Your marriage is on therocks, you’re about to have anaffair, your career is in ruins if yourluck and if not your dead, don’t getme wrong me friend what you putinto this case you even inspiredme, and I’m uninspriable, do everyonea favour though, drop the case.’Jake: ‘… I quit now and all of this is fornothing.’ (7)
  31. 31. Moral Courage/ Bravery• Wife: ‘About what? That you weren’t home when somepractically burned our house down? That you missedsupper and didn’t bother to call? Or that lately youhave become much more interested in getting g yourface on the news than what’s going with your family?Or that Hannah comes home bawling because of otherkids calling her nigger lover? What exactly are yousorry about Jake?!’ (4)• Jake’s wife’s out burst encourages the audience toquestion if Jake really is brave or just guilty?• – ‘…it’s not just Carl Lee I’m trying to get off’ (6)
  32. 32. Moral Courage/ Bravery• Jake visits Judge Noose at home, (the oldsouth still apparent e.g. domestic houseworkers are black)• Judge has denied the motion to change venueand has covered all bases so that Jake can’tappeal, he alludes to the fact that if Jakecarries on with this case he will be throwinghis career away (5)
  33. 33. Moral Courage/ Bravery• Atticus takes on Tom’s case even though he knows the town will beagainst him (Herculean task - requires tremendous effort, strength)Atticus is brave to defend a black man in the face of criticism andthreats of violence• when facing the mob of men outside the jailhouse.• Atticus doesn’t react to Bob Ewell, to Atticus withholding violence isone of the highest forms of bravery.• Bob Ewell represents the greatest cowardice, as he both lies in thecourtroom to protect himself and resorts to attacking children in thedarkness in order to make himself feel more of a man.• Maudie’s comment on Atticus “There’s some me in this world who areborn to do our unpleasant jobs for us, your father’s one of them”• Atticus struggles on with case because he believes that one day goodwill prevail over the evils of racism and racial equality will exist(summation)Apart from Atticus who else shows moralcourage/ bravery?
  34. 34. Ethics
  35. 35. DO THEY HAVE SIMILAR MESSAGESAND VALUES?The themes can be said to be aconduit for the communicationof the messages and values ofthe films. The themes that canbe said to be shared by bothfilm are:• Bigotry, which can be said tocover racism, racialintolerance and racialinequality,• Justice and the law,• Perspective• Moral courage/Bravery• Ethics.
  36. 36. DO THEY HAVESIMILAR MESSAGESAND VALUES?Messages and values are communicatedthrough the use of themes. The themesare used as part of the films constructionsto provide a wider commentary on societyin general this is usually linked tocontextual issues and reflects issuesduring the period of time the film wasmade.MESSAGE = Lesson/ moralVALUE = PrincipleThese films are saying something aboutwider society – specifically AmericansocietyMAKE SURE YOU KNOW:• What are the themes of the films?• How are they communicated?(compare)• What messages and values are beingcommunicated• What commentary is this providingabout American society?
  37. 37. DO THESE MESSAGES AND VALUESREFLECT THE TIMES THE FILMS WEREMADE?• To Kill a Mockingbird –1962• A Time to Kill – 1996• What was happening atthese times?
  38. 38. ROBERT MULLIGAN, 1962Set in the1930s madein 1962What ishappening in1962 thatwould reflectthe messagesand values ofthe film?The CivilRightsMovement(1955 – 1968)The Civil Rights Movementwas characterised by majorcampaigns of civil resistanceserving the purpose tooutlaw racial discriminationand freedom fromoppression by whiteAmericansDuring the Civil RightsMovement tens ofthousands of peopleof all races risked notjust their standing inthe community, butalso their lives, in thehope of building acoalition for racialequality.This ideology of the Civil Rights Movement canbe said to be reflected in the messages andvalues of To Kill a Mocking Bird the film hasbeen described as a progressive, enlightened60s message about racial prejudice, violence,moral tolerance and dignified courage1. How are the messages andvalues communicated inthe film?2. Provide textual examplesof how the film reflectsmessages and values ofthe early 1960s? (themes!)
  39. 39. JOEL SCHUMACHER, 1996 Set in the1995 madein 1996What is happeningin the 1990s thatwould reflect themessages andvalues of the film?released four years after an all-white jury acquittedthe four LAPD police officers who assaulted theblack driver Rodney King in 1992 [which lead to theLos Angeles riots], and two years after a mostlyblack jury found O.J. Simpson not guilty of thecharges pressed against him during his criminal trialin 1994, while a mostly white jury found him guiltyduring the civil trial.Since January 1995, morethan 100 churches havebeen burned. The burningswere predominately in blackcongregations. . “the churchburnings were symptomaticof the larger racial problemin America”Race relations are prevalent in1996, and the film portrays theinjustices that are happening inthe community of Alabama. Therural areas seem to hold the mostextreme amount of racial tension.Rural areas contain a great deal ofjoblessness and lack of economicopportunity. It seems thateconomic hardship exacerbatesracial tensions in many areas.There are also studies going on about how thejudicial system is controlled by affluent white peoplewho are not willing to treat African American peoplefairly. The judicial system is being called “the newenslavement of coloured people.”In 1963, Martin Luther King described Mississippi as “adesert state sweltering with the heat of injustice andoppression.” The sobering question suggested by the filmis how much has Mississippi really changed?1. How are the messages andvalues communicated in thefilm?2. Provide textual examples ofhow the film reflectsmessages and values of the1990s? (themes!)The key is to think about what partsof the film reflect the reality of whatwas going on at the time
  40. 40. EXAM QUESTIONWith reference to your chosenAmerican films, compare the extentto which their messages and valuesreflect the times in which they weremadeAll knowledge applied to specific questions can be interchangeable and in applicable to all
  41. 41. EXAM QUESTIONHow far do your chosenAmerican films portraythemes and ideas insimilar ways?
  42. 42. How far do your chosen American filmsportray themes and ideas in similar ways?
  43. 43. COMPARE AND CONTRAST HOW KEYTHEMES HAVE BEEN PRESENTED INTKAM & ATTK• WRITING REVISION NOTES• For the ‘how’ think about is it through…- The story/ narrative?- The use of characters?- Film language?- a combination of the above?• What messages/ morals are being communicated throughthe use of that theme?• To what extent is the message communicated in the sameway across the two films?• Does the context (time period) make a difference to howeach film communicates it’s theme?