Pleasantville Film Analysis

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The film Pleasantville directed by Gary Ross is about two modern teenagers, David and his sister Jennifer, somehow being transported into the television, ending up in Pleasantville, a 1950s black and white sitcom. The two are trapped as Bud and Mary Sue in a radically different dimension and make some huge changes to the bland lives of the citizens of Pleasantville, with the use of the director’s cinematic techniques. Ross cleverly uses cinematic techniques such as colour, mise-en-scene, camera shots, costumes, music and dialogue to effectively tell the story.

The town of Pleasantville is dull and this is reflected by its lack of colour - the town is completely black and white. Black and white life is simple and uncomplicated. However Bud and Mary Sue soon begin to awaken the town of Pleasantville, especially Betty, Mr. Johnson and Skip changing it from sedate to a lively environment. Not only do the town people change, they become liberated. Colour is used impressively throughout the film and plays a huge role as a cinematic device representing liberation and change. This is highlighted in the Lovers Lane scene when Bud and Margaret are driving to their first date. This striking scene depicted coloured pink blossoms falling from the trees onto their black and white skin. The juxtaposition between black and white here is also significant because it shows how things are changing. The black and white and color images blend pretty seamlessly. The viewer notices how this couple wonders at the petals instead of noticing the surroundings with strong elements of conservatism. Another example where the ‘normality’ in ‘‘Pleasantville’’ has changed is when the colour red is used for ‘romance.’ This is seen on Mary-Sue’s first date with Skip, where afterwards Skip sees a ‘red’ rose. Ross used the symbolism of red to indicate changes in the residents’ attitudes to love, passion and lust. These passions were considered to be absent from the idealized 1950s. The first...
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