The texts that have influenced my understandings on change were the film “Pleasantville”, the poem “The door” and the song “Cats in the Cradle”.
The film “Pleasantville” portrays the changes that have occurred in American society over the past 50 years. The movie describes changes in sexual relations, language, violence, and family matters and roles. Viewers are shown how the racial and sexual equality began.
It shows there is no “perfect” way of life and as the movie slogan says “nothing is as simple as black and white”. The movie has used a range of techniques that have helped to effectively shape my understanding of change for instance colour/symbolism and its absence, camera angles, and language
Pleasantville has used the element of colour to help portray the change in the town and characters, which contrast greatly against the black and white society. As the characters begin to change their simplistic little town begins to turn into an intricate and dangerous place.
The colour not only makes it clear in showing when changes in the characters have occurred though also through objects as symbols much like when Jennifer “pins” Skip and this is when the first sign of colour appears (the pink rose). The pink rose symbolizes love, passion and intimacy and in a way the Garden of Eden, they taste the forbidden fruit (sex). The coloured objects that begin to appear are almost warnings to when changes in people/society are about to occur such as when Betty’s playing cards and the all her cards are red hearts. It symbolizes the love that she’s developing for George.
However when Skip and Betty were introduced to sexual activities consequently the basket ball team lost their talent and tree outside Betty’s home blew up in flame in reaction to there experiences this shows that each time something drastic changes (like sex) a good or bad change occurs, this is planned to show that in the real world the good come with the bad, with actions come consequences. Also when the girl in the corridor’s bubble gum turns pink it symbolizing flirtatiousness and sex appeal.
One of the scenes where colour has been the technique very effectively used is the court room scene where George realizes that he truly loves and misses his wife Betty for who she is and only when he taped into his emotion (opened the door to his emotion) was when he was able to change his thinking. Much like in the “Cat’s in the cradle” George realized that he should have spent more time cementing his relationship with Betty. Colour has been extremely effective when it comes to showing the meaning of change against such a society like Pleasantville.
The absence of colour is just as helpful when it comes to the meaning of change. In the beginning of Pleasantville it comes abundantly clear that nothing ever changes everything is peachy keen 24/7.
So in the middle of the movie when a fraction of the town has turned coloured this is when the grey people stand out more, because they have become so determined to keep things the way they were blinded by their own rage (people are always afraid of what’s different and fear turns into anger), they had resulted in violence (burning the books), sexual assault (towards Betty) and vandalism (Bill’s cafï¿½).
In the beginning we are led to believe that sex is responsible for the change but Skip only changed at the end so the absence of colour shows and makes you understand that it’s not only the sex, rock’n roll, love etc that’s making the town and its people change, it’s got to be a change from the heart.
The camera angles used in Pleasantville help to portray change and the characters, for example in the “honey I’m home” scene there were many camera techniques to help depict how George was feeling after the change of his wife not being home with the dinner ready on the table. They use close-ups to capture George’s baffled expression and to emphasize Georges extremely confusion. Lightning (pathetic fallacy) and silence are used to give the assumption that something isn’t right.
As George wonders through the house expecting to find Betty and his dinner they use compressed time showing him anxiously looking from room to room. Another technique that has been used is angle of shot. This has been used several times through out the movie one example is at the beginning when Jennifer is first introduced they show her looking down on her brother David with disgust and embarrassment.
The language used by the characters changed through out the movie. They used a fairly proper and formal language and the most common if not only word to describe emotion and other things was “swell”. Though I found “swell” to be a perfect word it fits right in with their way of life, also the word swell doesn’t imply anything overly exciting, it doesn’t imply anything rather then pleasant.
Their pleasant lingo begins to change due to Jennifer’s influence. The other teenagers begin to using speech such as “cool”, “how’s it goin?” and they abbreviate their name for example Peggy-Jane would go to PJ. This new jargon makes them stand out more as teenagers/ adolescence.