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Friday, May 4, 2012

chqanging perspectives

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Films use image to communicate meaning. The visual images selected by the director can help in telling the story, describing characters as well as contributing to the themes and ideas the film is conveying to the audience. This is especially true of both the films the Truman show and Pleasantville. Both of these films explore the idea of the power of the media and the directors, Peter Weir (The Truman show) and Gary Ross (Pleasantville), are particularly skilled in using the visual language of images in accomplishing their purpose.


His name is Truman an ironic true man, typical man, living in an ordinary life, with and ordinary wife, in a ordinary neighbourhood, and with and ordinary friend.The Truman Show conveys this message by depicting a series of fateful events in the life of Truman Burbank, (played by Jim Carrey) who has grown up, and lives, in a fake town full of actors. The town is enclosed in a giant dome decked out with high-tech simulations of sun and sky, in which the rain and wind are courtesy of the special effects department. Truman alone has no idea he is in a giant TV studio, as the rest of humanity watches him go from one staged situation to another in a nonstop telethon of reality programming that lets audiences enjoy a little pathos and vicarious emotion.


The truman show is a fictionally created seaside town of Seaheaven which , together with the land and water around it, are enveloped by a huge dome. A town which have lack of variety in style and colour housing, perfect weather, clearliness, no crime, picket fences etc.The film opens with an excerpt from the TV program that is following trumans life, with clips featuring its conceiver and producer Christof, Trumans wife, Merly, his best friend Marlin and truman himself. Talking to his image in his bathroom mirror. A typical day begins. The truman greets his neighbours with his standard Good morning, and if you dont see me, good afternoon and good night. Everything seems normal and suburban. Then literally out of the blue, a projectile drops from the sky and crashes onto the street. Though truman doesnt recognise it, its a studio light. On the news report to which his car radio is tuned the object is explained as having been droped by a airplane flying overhead. Everything seems to be normal from day to day as truman does his normal routine every single morning.


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Then one morning theres a problem with trumans car radio, and he accidentally tunes into frequency where the director of the television program is reporting on Trumans movements. A newspaper headline speaks of a crackdown on the homeless. He goes to the camous and begins to see if he can spot anything artificial in what is going on around him. He also tries stopping traffic, running aimlessly backwards and forwards, and detouring randomly into an elevator. The elevator, he discovers, has no back wall and opens out to a catering area, though someone nearby quickly claims that some remodelling is in process and hustles him away.As he becomes increasingly aware of the predictability of what daily happens around him, he makes various vains to get out, by first by plain to fiji, then by the bus to chicago, and finally by car out of the city. He even overcomes his fear of crossing the causeway to the mainland, but at every turn events conspire to prevent him succeeding.This is worked back as trumans father is back into the scene, truman and his father claps together. The next day truman is introduced to a new love interest to replace his wife who has left him. But clearly this doesnt placate him. When he beds down for night, the television crew monitoring his activities fails to notice his surreptitious escape from the room.But into this ersatz paradise, there inevitably appears a snake. After the crew makes mistakes that cause the seamlessness of the illusion to break down, Truman figures out that his surroundings are full of staged scenes and events. He then tries to make his escape, only to come up against both his own fears, which keep him from leaving, and the obstacles put in his way by the producer-director who has made billions trapping him in a stage set and playing God with his life. Finally truman escapes from his fake life, as he turns to leave he turns to the unseen audience and repeats his standard morning greeting for the last time, before walking through the door into the darkness beyond.


Thus does the movie offer us a metaphor for our own situation. The fake landscape Truman lives in is our own media landscape in which news, politics, advertising and public affairs are increasingly made up of theatrical illusions. Like our media landscape, it is convincing in its realism, with lifelike simulations and story lines, from the high-tech facsimile of a sun that benevolently beams down on Truman to the mock sincerity of the actor he mistakenly believes is his best friend. It is also rewarding and masquerades as something benevolent. And it is seamless there are almost no flaws that give away the illusion at least until things start to go wrong.Trumans fear of leaving this invented world, once he realizes it is a fraud, is similarly like our own reluctance to break our symbiotic relationship with media. His growing suspicion that what he is seeing is staged for his benefit is our own suspicions as the media-fabricated illusions around us begin to break down. And the producer director of this stage set world, who blocks Trumans effort to escape, is the giant media companies, news organizations, and media-politicians that have a stake in keeping us surrounded by falsehood, and are prepared to lure us with rewards as they block efforts at reforming the system. What gives this metaphor life is the way the movie depicts two attitudes we routinely take toward media. In one, we are absorbed by it; we accept its rendition of reality because it occupies our view. We are like children whose parents define their world. The lifelikeness and seamlessness of media fabrications and the fact that they are entertaining, help induce this attitude in us. We frequently experience it while reading news stories and watching television and movies. The movie depicts just such a change in attitude as a transformation in the way Truman sees his surroundings and as a physical journey. First, Truman is absorbed by his stage-set world. He is convinced it is real and it occupies his view. Then, as a result of flaws in the seamlessness of the illusion, he begins to question it. He develops a healthy paranoia are they watching him; can he know what is authentic? As he makes his escape, and the producer of the show blocks him at every turn, that is the creators of the movie telling us that we too have to take a journey of mind and distance ourselves from this media landscape, if we want to secure our freedom.The movie also depicts the critics who invite us to see through media illusions in the form of characters who try to warn Truman he is on television. Most notably, there is the woman who reveals to him that he is on TV, before she is removed from the set. His dream of finding her is also the dream that, at first, he doesnt know he has, of finding the truth of the outside world, where there are genuine relationship in place of the saccharin marriage he believes is authentic.Truman believes he inhabits a benign and uneventful world. Little does he suspect that everything he does is monitored, controlled and contrived. When he realizes something is wrong and tries to break free, he then discovers the totalitarian face of his apparently innocuous life.Like other depictions in the movie, this one is based on a disturbing characteristic of contemporary society. Everywhere we look, today, we see powerful shapers of media including entertainment companies, news organizations, corporations and political groups offering us a benevolent face, with promises of enjoyment and an easy life. But, behind the mask, we increasingly find surveillance, manipulation and social control.The Truman Shows is also depiction of the way product placement is woven into Trumans life is an effective satire on the commercialization of our own lives. Today, forms of entertainment are commercials; commercials are forms of entertainment; and the boundary between both, and the rest of life, is becoming blurred.Framed shots that slo indicated that Trumans life was being videod is by the open frame shows that truman apparenently continuing beyond where we can see it. Where it shows the camera remains static but swivels on horizontal axis. this show that the truman show has many ways that shows meaning from images.


In the twilight of the 0th century, here is a comedy to reassure us that there is hope--that the world we see around us represents progress, not decay. ``Pleasantville, The movie opens in todays America, which we have been taught to think of as rude, decadent and dangerous. A teenager named David languishes in front of the tube, watching a rerun of a 150s sitcom named ``Pleasantville, in which everybody is always wholesome and happy. Meanwhile, his mother squabbles with her ex-husband and his sister Jennifer prepares for a hot date. Having heard a whisper or two about the plot, we know that the brother and sister will be magically transported into that 150s sitcom world. And were expecting maybe something like ``The Brady Bunch Movie, in reverse. We are correct While David and Jennifer are fighting over the remote control, theres a knock at the door and a friendly TV repairman Don Knotts offers them a device ``with more oomphs. They click it, and theyre both in Pleasantville. Luckily, this is a world that David knows well; hes a TV trivia expert. Its a mystery to his sister Jennifer so he briefs her Their names are now Bud and Mary Sue, and their parents are Betty and George Parker ``Were, like, stuck in Nerdville! Jennifer complains. They are. Geography lessons at the local high school are limited to subjects like ``Main Street and ``Elm Street because the world literally ends at the city limits. Space twists back upon itself in Pleasantville, and ``the end of Main Street is just the beginning again. Life always goes according to plan, and during basketball practice every shot goes in. After one player experiences sex, he is capable of actually missing a shot; a dead silence falls as the ball rolls away. Stand back, boys! warns the coach. Dont touch it,`Pleasantville has fun during these middle sequences, as ``Bud and Mary Sue hang out at the malt shop where Mr. Johnson works and park on Lovers Lane (just to hold hands). Then sparks from the emerging future begin to land here and there in the blandness. Mary Sue shares information about masturbation with her mother, who of course has never dreamed of such a pastime (as a perfect housewife, she has never done anything just for herself). As her mother relaxes in her bath, a tree outside their house breaks into flames--in full color! The kids at school are the first to start appearing in colors. Theyre curious and ready to change. They pepper Bud with questions. ``Whats outside of Pleasantville? they ask. ``There are places, he says, ``where the roads dont go in a circle. They just keep going.Bud shows Mr. Johnson a book of color art reproductions, and the soda jerk is thunderstruck by the beauty of Turner and Van Gogh. He starts painting. Soon he and Betty Parker have discovered theyre kindred spirits. (After Betty turns up in color, shes afraid to show herself, and in a scene of surprising tenderness, her son helps her put on gray makeup.) George Parker, meanwhile, waits disconsolately at home for his routine to continue.Yes, something, in a town where nothing ever did. The film observes that sometimes pleasant people are pleasant simply because they have never, ever been challenged. That its scary and dangerous to learn new ways. The movie is like the defeat of the body snatchers The people in color are like former pod people now freed to move on into the future. We observe that nothing creates fascists like the threat of freedom. Pleasantville is the kind of parable that encourages us to re-evaluate the good old days and take a fresh look at the new world we so easily dismiss as decadent. Yes, we have more problems. But also more solutions, more opportunities and more freedom. I grew up in the 50s. It was a lot more like the world of ``Pleasantville than you might imagine. Yes, my house had a picket fence, and dinner was always on the table at a quarter to six, but things were wrong that I didnt even know the words for. There is a scene in this movie where it rains for the first time. Of course it never rained in 150s sitcoms. Pleasantvilles people in color go outside and just stand in it.


Films do use images to communicate image. Film makers use images to take that place of a thousand words in the minds of thier audience. In The Truman Show Peter Weir users images to describe the character of Truman Burbank, who becomes increasingly stifled by the superfecial, sterile world he has been placed in, as well comment on the power of the media in current society. Gary Ross in the film Pleasantville users images to images to examine the romanticised view of 150s small town America. He shows that this image, popularised by television programs like the one presented in this film, was neither lifelike or real.





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