Philadelphia the Movie

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Johnathan Demme’s Philadelphia portrays conflicting perspectives on the idea of AIDS, homosexuality and prejudice towards minorities within a society in a light which positions responders to question actions that were generally accepted during this time. Martin Luther King Jr. once said “Our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation; and this means we must develop a world perspective.”

An example of the use of camera angles is when a woman notices a lesion caused by AIDS on Beckett, a close up is used to emphasis her reaction and the overall prejudice towards AIDS infected homosexuals. Individuals innately form moral judgements about things that are confronting or different. Demme highlights how quickly individuals form judgments through clever camera angles and non-diegetic music. These tools create a certain mood and persuade the audience to take a certain side of a conflicting perspective. This act of deception can be compared to Susanna’s dissembling in The Herbal Bed whereby she conceals the truth in order to protect her marriage and her husband’s professional reputation. In both texts the audience is positioned to support these act of deception by the way the conflicting perspectives are portrayed.

This acted of dissembling is fully supported by the audience when it is revealed that this fully competent lawyer is fired simply because he has AIDS which the boss of the firm is clearly prejudiced against. The film tells the story of Andrew Beckett, a highly respected lawyer and senior associate at the largest corporate law firm in Philadelphia, a homosexual and an AIDS suffer. Beckett however keeps the two later points concealed from the law firm an act of dissembling he believe necessary to retain his job. The film enables the audience to visualise an alternative perspective of discrimination against a HIV positive homosexual man and question the need for social change and understanding.

This provokes an empathetic...
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