The movie ‘‘Pleasantville’’, written, produced and directed by Gary Ross, approaches a period in America’s history which subsequent generations idealise as a better and more stable society. He portrays this time period of the 1950s as a time when people and life were less complicated; a time when everyone knew their place in society. However, as the film ironically shows, this was a time when people were more ignorant, racist and most certainly sexist. Ross demolishes this illusion of the great 1950s American society by showing how its defects are gradually changed from black and white to colour. Ross shows that ‘change is inevitable’ once a catalyst for change is added to the ordered life of “Pleasantville”. Once David and Mary-Sue begin to interact with the residents of “Pleasantville” the consequences of their interaction are present through many filmmaking techniques; the use of colour, camera angles, music and symbolism.
The presentation of “Pleasantville” in black and white has both historical and symbolic meaning. In the 1950s television was in black and white but Ross’ use of black and white was driven also from the popular modern day consensus that life in the 1950s was less ambiguous. Everything in “Pleasantville” was clearly understood; everything was either black or white no shades of grey, no doubts. The introduction of colour within the film is an obvious technique used to signify change within the town of ‘‘Pleasantville’’. The introduction of colour signifies that the ‘normality’ or the ‘pleasantness’ in ‘‘Pleasantville’’ has been broken. The first signs of change, that is the first introduction of colour, are red for ‘romance.’ The first instance of this happening was on Mary-Sue’s first date with Skip, where afterwards Skip saw a ‘red’ rose. Ross used the generally accepted symbolism of red to indicate changes in the residents’ attitudes to love, passion and lust; all those passions that were considered to be absent from the idealized 1950s...
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