Pleasantville Film Review Essay Sample

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Pleasantville Essay

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The movie Pleasantville is very symbolic. It is a movie that could be interpreted a number of different ways. Most will agree, however, that the basic point of the movie concerns the subject of change. But we can also see the movie as a modern version of Plato's Allegory of the Cave. From this point of view, Pleasantville depicted in black and white represents the cave, while color represents the world of enlightenment beyond the cave.

Before David and Jennifer become Bud and Mary Sue, everything in Pleasantville is apparently perfect. Everyone lives their day-to-day lives without any problems. Pleasantville seems to be a place of perfect bliss. Everyone in the little town lives a life of safety, happiness, but also ignorance.

Outside of Pleasantville, there is disorder and unhappiness. At the beginning of the movie, David is the typical "loser" at school; he is unhappy with his life. His sister, Jennifer, is a promiscuous teen. All of these scenes are in color.

In Pleasantville, however, before the town is ruined, everything appears in black and white, and all the people are apparently content with their lives. For example, nothing here can catch fire, and the firefighters only have to rescue cats out of trees. The basketball team always wins and players on the team make every single shot.

After David and Jennifer are introduced to the peaceful, harmonious town of Pleasantville, however, the flawless, isolated, but ignorant community is turned upside down and ruined. When Bud tells Skip that his sister wouldn’t want to go out with him, for example, Skip suddenly can’t make a shot, and is thus unhappy for the first time. When Betty Parker learns about sex, a tree catches fire, and funnily the firemen do not know what to do, and only respond when they think that there is a cat stuck in a tree.

Towards the end of the movie, people start to riot. They destroy the burger place, and they burn piles of books. There is total chaos and disorder. The original peaceful community is lost when the contagious disease of enlightenment, represented by color in this movie, is introduced.

One could argue that this movie portrays change and enlightenment as a good thing, but there is also substantial evidence that this movie is showing change as a bad thing. The laws of entropy apply in this movie. Pleasantville exists in a delicate balance of perfect order, but when new things are introduced to throw off the balance, everything naturally turns to chaos and disorder.


NOTE: This essay has been edited. Comments may be obsolete.

Submitted by: Tom

Tagged...Pleasantville movie essay, essay about Pleasantville, free essay about the movie pleasantville

The film ‘Pleasantville’ is about two modern teenagers, David and his sister Jennifer, somehow being transported into the television, ending up in Pleasantville – a 1950s black and white sitcoms. David knows that they have to act like the ‘real’ characters as he definitely knows the world well, but soon he realises that it is impossible – that change is inevitable, which is the main theme of the movie.

The two characters from the modern world have the role of bringing ‘evil’ knowledge to the citizen of Pleasantville. They brought changes to the town, adding colours to it.

Change is an important element in this film. It shows that change is inevitable by introducing two characters into a never-changing world. Both are uneasy when they arrive. However, Jennifer threatens to rebel and states that “no one is happy in a poodle skirt and sweater set”. The citizen of Pleasantville have only learned about the geography of two streets, the firemen have never seen a fire, and sex and double beds do not even exist. They live their lives according to their routines. “Where is my dinner?” Mr Parker asks when he is surprised that the dinner is not ready for in at quarter to six. Though, the curiosities of the people living in Pleasantville lead them to change. “What is outside Pleasantville?” some ask.

The people of Pleasantville are no longer innocent, and they are ready to change. This is shown by the shifting of people from black and white to colour. The people can only gain colours when they break their barriers, discovering the missing element in their lives. Some gain colour from having sex, Mary-Sue gains colour from reading books and Bud gains colour from getting into a fight. Pleasantville is no longer Pleasantville. The basketball team starts missing shots, and colours can be seen everywhere. Bud is horrified when he sees the changes, but soon realises that it is hardly life when all people do is to follow the robotic routines.

Not all people react pleasantly with the changes. A committee is set up to limit the use of colours, kinds of music and books, and shutting down Lover’s Lane. The film comments on censorship and the social discriminations base on racial background.

The plot of Pleasantville is relatively simple – two real people being sucked into an unreal world. However, it makes allusion to the real world, such as segregation and censorship. It also deliver its message successfully, that change is inevitable. The scenes where the black and white tree bursting into bright orange flame, and the Lover’s Lane as Eden, have strong visual impact on the audience, and allows the audience to re-evaluate our society.


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