Movie Critique: Public Enemies

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Public Enemies

Public Enemies apprehends perfectly the political condition of our time. A film that talks

about the tumult and disarray of the Great Depression released at a time when America

had entered an unusual recession. The film tells the story of John Dillinger, a bank robber

who had little prospect of finding employment because of the economy’s downturn, and

decided to rebel against the failed economic system of democracy. Dillinger knew what

he wanted, and was willing to do about anything in order to make it happen, what he

didn’t know was that his immeasurable actions would lead to his misfortune.

As seen in beginning of the film, John Dillinger was a farm boy who grew up in a

very modest environment with no mother, and a father who would beat him because he

thought that it was the right way to raise him. As years passed you find Dillinger

planning a huge escape from the jail where he had been captured for 9 years, and in time

had mastered the art of robbing for a living. Succeeding at the getaway of him and his

comrades would then become the initiation of his delinquent adventure. Once he was out,

Dillinger saw a world he hadn’t been part of. Having all the money he pleased opened up

a door where he found himself surrounded by everything anyone could’ve wished for;

fast cars, exquisite food, expensive clothes and so. Money was his motivation, what drive

him to being so good at what he did. So good that no one could stop Dillinger nor his

gang, no jail was an

obstacle and that’s what endeared him to everyone. Many people saw Dillinger as an

outlaw for stealing from the banks that were responsible for the economic crisis everyone

was going through. Stealing at such arduous times seemed impossible.

The banks started having such bad failures that people started to make “Bank

Runs”. This made an impact in the market which lead to many crime waves across

America; one of them being Dillinger’s outrageous robberies. The Great Depression was

a big influence on the Gangster Film genre. The early gangster such as Dillinger, felt the

need to prevail in society; society that seemed to have little law enforcement. They were

admired by people because of the economic position they stood at; being wealthy at such

agonizingly times. His drive for wanting to be powerful and affluent put him in the

position he was in. In one of the scenes John Dillinger says: “I like baseball, movies,

good clothes, fast cars, and you. What else do you need to know?" The confidence he

wore, and acknowledgment of the fact he was so good at what he did, shows the look of

how a man who lived and partially succeeded in a hard time. Dillinger was a man that

lived in the moment as only a man in the depression could. Films in the gangster genre

widespread in popularity since the 1930’s because of the content the cinema portrayed.

As Andrew Bergman has shown, “The fantasy world of the movies played a

critical social and psychological function for Depression era Americans: In the face

of economic disaster, it kept alive a belief in the possibility of individual success,

portrayed a government capable of protecting its citizens from external threats, and

sustained a vision of America as a classless society. Again and again, Hollywood

repeated the same formulas: A poor boy from the slums uses crime as a perverted

ladder of success. A back row chorus girl rises to the lead through luck and pluck. A

G-man restores law and order. A poor boy and a rich girl meet, go through wacky

adventures, and fall in love. Out of these simple plots, Hollywood restored faith in

individual initiative, in the efficacy of government, and in a common American

identity transcending social class(1). Public Enemies was directed and produced by

Michael Mann. A very famous and prestigious producer whom has written crime drama

TV shows...
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