Film Analysis Essay on Crash (2004)

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The movie “Crash” - from director and producer Paul Haggis - pictures one day in the lives of various characters in Los Angeles, all of them from different social and racial backgrounds but nevertheless connected and intertwined throughout the story. The movie’s story is being told in a mostly chronological way, except that it puts one scene to the very beginning of the film and then cuts back to the day prior, indicated by the visual text “yesterday”. In this first sequence, detectives Graham Waters and his partner Ria have been rearended when they arrive at a crime scene, leading to a fight between Hispanic Ria and the accident responsible, furious Chinese Kim Lee, involving race-related insults towards each other. Breaking through the temporal order and showing everything that has happened prior to this fight gives the explanation why Kim Lee is so furious and why she was in such a hurry, as her husband is in hospital for being run over by a car. This strategy of playing with the viewer’s opinion and sympathy about the single characters is one that is central for the movie. Therefore a lot of prejudices are implicitly and explicitly presented through the narrative and the movie’s surface. Anthony and Peter for example are being pictured as two young adolescents just leaving a diner and discussing the (non-)discriminating treatment of the waitress. In Anthony’s opinion even other black people are racist towards Afro-Americans and that white people are scared of them although they are not even dressed like “gang-bangers”. This gives the impression of young people being worried and angry about ungrounded racial discrimination. Then the dialogue suddenly changes, both of them pull a gun and they steal the car from Rick and Jean Cabot – the two white people they just accused of having prejudices about them – leaving the viewer with a sudden change in the characterization they were given before. The movie continues like this when it shows the Hispanic locksmith...
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