Analysis of the Themes of Six Movies
The Wizard of Oz
“The Wizard of Oz”, originally a book written by Frank L. Baum, is the story of the little girl Dorothy Gale who was dead bored of the farm life she shares with her uncle and aunt at Kansas City. Swept out of her stale life by a tornado, she landed in the magical Land of Oz where she met creatures who are slightly out of her league. Together with a Lion who had no courage, a scarecrow who had no brain, and a tin man without a heart, she travelled down the yellow brick road to find the powerful wizard of Oz, who can take her back to Kansas, for indeed there is no place like home (LeRoy & Fleming, 1939).
In the beginning of the movie it may be derived that Dorothy’s life was not very appealing. It appeared as monotonous and utterly dreary. Being young and commonly daydreaming, Dorothy had wanted to see the other side of the rainbow. This may be taken as a metaphorical expression for wanting to be in another place or needing an ounce of excitement and thrill. In the Land of Oz, Dorothy experienced perhaps the most unforgettable adventure of her life, but analyzed further, it may be found that the deeper reason, the motive Dorothy had been holding onto during the entire experience was the desire to get back home.
Even with the panorama of colorful little people, a beautiful and kind witch, a castle all green with emerald stone, Dorothy still desired to come home. The courage, the wits, and the heart, she and her friends used throughout their journey was driven by the desire to see the family and the farm she once dreaded. The feats Dorothy had gone through may be considered as metaphors for the tedious task of learning to appreciate what one has and to believe that indeed there is no place like home, for it is where one may learn everything that life may call for. It was where Dorothy acquired a heart, a brain, and courage that pulled her through the dangers of her trip. Home was the reason of her struggle as well as the reason of her happiness.
“The Shining” by director Stanley Kubrick, is a horror film derived from the book by acclaimed horror story writer, Stephen King. It was about a family who seemed to have encountered a series of unfortunate events in their life. Jack Torrance, a teacher, was fired from his job. Standing from this fall, he decides to accept a job offer in a far-out snow-bound hotel called the Overlook. Taking his wife and son, Torrance did not heed a warning by the hotel manager regarding the previous caretaker, Grady, who was driven mad, killed his family, and then committed suicide. As a result of Torrance’s desperate acceptance of the job, his family experienced the same horrors that the family of the previous caretaker experienced. Only that his wife was more intelligent and his son was gifted with the shining, so they survived (Kubrick, 1979).
Given the way the film had ran, it may be commented that it did not strictly embrace the theme remembrance of things forgotten. However, by the end of the film, the clue to the mystery was unraveled. It was a photograph of a party that happened in the 1920’s, with the supposedly young Torrance in the center. It was the same party which he saw in the part of the story where he met the butler, Delbert Grady. This evidence points that the entire occurrence may be something that came out of Torrance’s memory, putting the movie in context with the given theme.
Although there may be no proof that it was genuinely Torrance on the photo, there is a probability that he may have existed in the past as another person. It may be remembered that in a conversation with Delbert Grady, Jack was told that he had always been the caretaker. This may be considered as proof of a possible mysterious connection between the two personas. This connection is the probable cause of the repetition of the events that took place in the past. The murder he was determined to commit may have been a means of reliving the past from which he used to live and remembering the things forgotten. There is a possibility that he was reborn into Jack Torrance from being the child in the photo, then Charles Grady, the previous caretaker of the hotel who killed his family.
In the film “Blue Velvet” by Director David Lynch, Jeffrey Beaumont discovers an ear in a grassy area towards their town. It led him to a whirlwind of events where he met a stripper, Dorothy, a detective’s daughter, Sandy, and a sadomasochist named Frank. These people, whose lives unraveled before Jeffrey, showed him how much love can ground a person in such an unfortunate predicament. Through a series of unique coincidences Jeffrey has become witness to the great mysteries that made love the most tempting yet forbidding nature of man (Lynch, 1986).
The film may be said to be in context with the theme, the mysteries of love, due to a number of evidence, Frank Booth’s action being the major one. Booth’s character personified the mystery of love, the mystery which causes it to point to an action as necessary while not affirming the motive of its necessity. As an example, because of his great love for Dorothy, Booth was driven into committing grave crimes giants Dorothy’s family. He killed her husband, kidnapped her son, and raped and abused her. All these actions may be considered an opposite of the love he was professing. However, because of love’s mystery Frank was driven and moved into committing them.
Another proof is the weird feeling that Jeff has for both Dorothy and Sandy. Although Jeff knew that he liked Sandy, he also feels something different for Dorothy. It may be a probable concern, perhaps lust, or pity. Whatever it may be, it had been a strong force that pushed Jeff into poking his nose into her business even when it had not been necessary.
These two pieces of evidence and the entire tale unfolded how much love in its mysteriousness cannot explain motives for actions, which may either be good or bad. It cannot enlighten on how much it may free or imprison a person. As in the case of Frank whose emotions imprisoned him to the idea that Dorothy must be his and yet the same imprisoning feeling unleashed his psychopath nature. It cannot point how and why it can bring bliss from which may spawn utter madness.
“Gattaca” is a futuristic film written and directed by Andrew Niccol. It was about a man named Vincent Freeman whose great desires pushed him further than the limitations of their time’s innovation. Determined to become an astronaut, but not having the genes to fulfill it, he steals the identity of another man and slips into the greatest aerospace company of his time, Gattaca. While assuming his own de-gene-erate identity had been difficult for Vincent, playing Mr. Qualified proved to be an extreme affair that is worth undertaking (DeVito and Niccol, 1997).
Analyzing the film, it may be said that it had been faithful to the theme, there is no gene for the human spirit, given that the main character of the story was a man whose genes are considered as unqualified. But despite these constraints, he struggled and proved that qualities of the spirit can lift him high enough to pursue his life-long dream. The experiences he underwent showed that genes are but a small obstacle to beat and there are greater things that can be conquered with the right amount of spirit, like determination, perseverance, and courage.
As genes are biological endowments, it may alter only physical and intellectual characteristics of a person. With the right combination of genes, a beautiful girl may be produced, a cute fast-learning child, or a handsome physically fit young man. However, it being more on to the physical aspect it cannot bring other qualities that are also necessary when endeavoring to fulfill an aspiration. It cannot result to the qualities of the spirit that may have developed as compensation for the lack of the right genes.
Possession of the perfect genes for the job may sometimes be insufficient as in the case of the “second to none” swimmer, Jerome. He had the right genes, the reason why Vincent stole it. Yet he lacked the determination, perseverance, and courage that Vincent possessed. He lacked the spirit, which even his perfect genes were not able to produce. Vincent on the other hand, has defective genes and yet he succeeded in conquering this weakness. This irony put the entire film into perspective with the aforementioned theme.
The movie “Fight Club” by director David Fincher is a controversial film adaptation of the book with the same title written by renowned author, Chuck Palahniuk. It was the story of Jack Campbell, a man whose dire need to escape the monotony of life developed into insomnia, which led him into the life of the soap salesman, Tyler Durden. Through an accidental brawl, they have created the ingenious organization called Fight Club, a secret society where all men can escape from their dreary lives, the society where jack discovered that the insomnia further developed and became the person he knew as Tyler Durden (Milchan and Fincher, 1999).
Just as “The Shining” adhered to its theme through a revelation in the ending, this film may only be considered as violently themed if not watched in its entirety. Like the alleged photo of Torrance, Jack’s gunshot through his own mouth, which killed Tyler, established the idea that he and Tyler are one and the same. The protagonist the in the movie was the same person responsible for the existence of the antagonist. Although this may as well be considered as a form of stupidity on the part of the main character, it should also be noted that this greatly contributed in putting the story in the perspective of the theme, egos, shadows, and the hero’s journey.
Even in classical pieces of literature, a hero’s journey may not be completed without the existence of the ego, and the villain. While most of the time, there exists other antagonists, it also typical that the downfall of the heroes are no one else but themselves. As evidenced by Hercules in the famous Greek tale.
It may be remembered that after his ten labors, he settled down, married and had kids. However, a distraction that he caused led him to murder the family that he built for himself. However, this put the Hercules’ journey to completion. It led him to a realization just as much as the event in Jack’s life led to the change that completed what seemed to be lacking.
The existence of Tyler as Jack’s ego, as the person who led him to do things he was not used to doing had been significant. The development of this shadow that pushed him into conquering his fears and frustrations, the creation of the villain which in reality was also himself had been the requisite in his acceptance of the monotony of life. This realization served as the missing piece that completed Jack’s journey as the hero of the story. It is also the key that tied all open queries as to the relationship of the screenplay to the theme, egos, shadows and the hero’s journey.
The movie “Unbreakable” from the highly commended director, M.Night Shyamalan, presents the story of David Dunn, a security guard whose family was on the brink of breaking apart, but after becoming the only survivor of a train accident, he learned the truth that changed everything. He met the wealthy man Elijah, who introduced him to his so-called unbreakable nature. However, after believing in this prospect and starting to live by it, David encounters another truth that dissolved him back from superhero to an ordinary man (Berber & Shyamalan, 2000).
As the old cliché goes, the truth sometimes hurt, yet in this movie the truth not only hurt, it also shocked and almost terrified the main character. Sticking to the theme, are you ready for the truth, the film gave an eerie feel that added to the mysterious nature of the theme. It being in question form may be paralleled to the film’s unexpected turn of events.
Since it is but human nature to be vulnerable and gullible, even when a man claims that he is ready for anything, there are still times that the least expected things are the ones that break them. In the film, it had been true that David was unbreakable while Elijah was his exact opposite. However, analyzed deeper, it had been the other way around.
Elijah knew things that David knew and one of these is that he may be swayed by the prospect of becoming a hero. Elijah used this to pursue his evil scheme. David’s gullible nature made him breakable and Elijah’s manipulative quality made him the exact opposite of what he claimed in the film. This may be considered as one metaphorical truth contained in the film that David had not been ready for.
Another truth presented metaphorically in the film is that no matter how much human beings claim that they are intelligent creatures of God, there is still not enough knowledge or science which may calculate the capacity of this intelligence and how it may be utilized. Man may either use it to manipulate another man or not use it enough to be tempted into being the one controlled.
These truths may have been the ones pertained to by the question and the theme, are you ready for the truth. As themes are the messages sent by the movie to its audience, it may be said that “Unbreakable” adhered to its theme and successfully disseminated it to its audience.
Berber, G. (Producer) & Shyamalan, M.K. (Director). (2000). Unbreakable [Motion Picture]. United States: Touchstone Pictures.
DeVito, D. (Producer) & Niccol, A. (Director). (1997). Gattaca [Motion Picture]. United States: Columbia Pictures Corporation.
Kubrick, S (Producer & Director). (1979). The Shining [Motion picture]. United States: The Producer Circle Company.
LeRoy, M. (Producer), & Fleming, V. (Director). (1939). The Wizard of Oz [Motion Picture]. United States: Metro Goldwyn Mayer.
Lynch, D. (Director). (1986). Blue Velvet [Motion Picture]. United States: De Laurentiis Entertainment Group.
Milchan, A. (Producer) & Fincher, D (Director). (1999). Fight Club [Motion Picture]. United States: Art Linson Productions.