On the Waterfront

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Elia Kazan’s ‘On the Waterfront’ tells the story of Terry Malloy’s journey through moral lack of concern to accomplishments. By the end of the film both Terry and the audience are able to recognise his development and moral growth. Terry Malloy is most certainly not a failure, Elia shows the audience that Terry triumphs over the misfortune community and struggle that he lives in. However, without the guidance of Edie Doyle and Father Barry that Terry comes to realise his true prospective to challenge the apparently ‘perfect’ Waterfront Crime Union. Also with the motivation from Charley’s death pushes Terry to courageously face Jonny Friendly and seek redemption for him and the mistreated longshoremen. At the beginning of the film Terry’s past is significant, it plays a prominent part in Terry’s negative self perception. Terry’s past plays a huge role in his journey, it is crucial because it affects the way he sees himself and the journey he makes throughout the film. Terry had a harsh upbringing, his father was murdered when he was young and Terry was brought up by his older brother Charley. The boys both lived in a boy’s home until Johnny Friendly came along and became the boy’s father figure. But Terry is portrayed by many as a selfish, hard headed boy for the corrupt person that Johnny Friendly becomes. This is shown through Terry Malloy’s body language especially in the opening scene of the film when he receives his final demonstrative order from Friendly ‘You take it from here, Slugger’ the audience learns from this that Terry is on side with the opponent, he is basically do it because he feels he has to. There is an element of Terry which shows he has a conscience at work. Terry’s transformation from being a morally compromised individual to hero is illustrated as he initially associates with Johnny Friendly’s gang who commit thuggery and extortion over the longshoremen under the semblance of a union to an individual who defies and breaks the stranglehold...
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