Film Report - a Time to Kill, Sleepers, an Eye for an Eye

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  • Topic: Film, Kill, Vigilante
  • Pages : 8 (2742 words )
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  • Published : October 8, 1999
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THEME: Vigilante Justice

Movies involving violent crime often position the viewer to sympathise with the victim who enacts the revenge by killing, thus establishing the premise that revenge killing is justified.

2.1 The way society views vigilante justice and the ideology that it is acceptable are the primary issues in three of the following American films, A Time To Kill, Sleepers and Eye For An Eye. These three films were tested in comparison with the hypothesis that states that the viewer is positioned to accept the revenge killing, thus establishing a premise that vigilante activity is justified. In A Time To Kill, a black father Carl Lee Hailey, is put on trial after murdering the two white men who brutally attacked and raped his daughter. Hailey's lawyer, Jake Brigance, through his incredible "story telling" ability, is able to convince the jury to reach a "not guilty" verdict. This outcome seems to support the idea that the murders are acceptable, therefore insinuating a sense of justice, when in reality yet another injustice has occurred.

2.2 The killing of Sean Nokes in Sleepers is a perfect example of revenge being carried out in cold-blooded murder. The movie unfolds the dreadful story of four boys' lives and the abuse they incurred at the Wilkinson Home for boys under Sean Nokes command. Now men, and at the crossroads of life, two of them murder the guard in a bar, promoting the act of revenge killing as being equitable.

2.3 Eye For An Eye is a film that establishes the premise that the legal system often fails, which consequently creates a situation that implores justice to be served in an illegal manner. Perhaps, it could be considered the most disturbing example of vigilante justice as both the sociopathic killer and victim's vengeful mum are engaged in a dangerous game of provocation, intimidation and retaliation.

2.4 The issue of vigilantism in each of the three movies has proven the hypothesis to be true, with each of the films positioning the viewer to accept the killing and to sympathise with the victim as if they are the only wronged party. The philosophy that says revenge killing is a form of justice is constantly depicted to society through films such as the above. However, in essence the film makers carry an unseen responsibility to the viewer to unveil the moral issues that arise in modern films. A greater effort at presenting the moral problems faced by parties in films that deal with vigilantism would create a more genuine assessment and capture the seriousness faced in real life situations. Yet apart from this, it seems that film makers have neglected to show the real pain and suffering the surrounding family members and the person that enacts the revenge killing experience. Therefore, a greater emphasis should be placed on the issues encompassing the killing to portray a more realistic view.

3.1 Vigilantism is often a sign of public frustration in society today. This indicates to the vast majority, that the police and courts have failed to deliver security and justice and therefore perhaps cannot be relied upon in the public's mind. This is the reason certain people groups in society choose to place their trust in vigilantism. Yet, these are often the same people who are in favour of democracy and strive to achieve a greater sense of equality among all. Eradicating vigilante movements once they are established is never easy, however it seems that films and film makers are doing little to hinder the growing movement by advocating the idea that revenge killing is acceptable, instead of encouraging society to trust the judicial system.

3.2 The hypothesis, " movies involving violent crime often position the viewer to sympathise with the victim who enacts the revenge by killing, thus establishing the premise that revenge killing is justified" was...
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