The Blackboard Jungle

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In the film Blackboard Jungle, an inspiring teacher fights to gain the respect from his class of juvenile delinquent boys, a lot of who belong to a gang that is mostly led by a white boy, and one of the students, Artie West. The teacher, Mr. Dadier, soon finds a connection with one of his black students, Miller. Mr. Dadier believes Miller to be the leader of the delinquency in the all boys’ high school, with his race being the only evidence. Little does he know, Miller is more than meets the eye and the two soon become acquaintances working together to fight against the gang and their troubles.

From the very beginning of the movie, the director is constantly focusing on the black student whenever something bad happens, creating the illusion and stereotype that the instigator is in fact Miller. The audience, as well as Mr. Dadier, is led to believe that Miller is to blame and is the leader of the band of misfits. For example, while Mr. Dadier’s back is turned to the class as he is writing on the blackboard a baseball is thrown at him, the target being his head. Immediately, the camera focuses on Miller seated in his desk. After class, Dadier holds Miller back to talk to him and accuses him of throwing the baseball even though he had no proof of Miller being the culprit. Mr. Dadier is used in this film to symbolize the “color blindness” in the white middle class. His constant negative attention towards Miller proves to be racist.

The director, James Clavell, does much more than zoom in on the black kid in class whenever trouble is caused. Clavell uses certain camera angles to portray the white race in the film to be above the black and how African Americans were “looked down upon” in society. An example of this is when Mr. Dadier is yelling at Miller in the main stairwell of the school. Dadier is obviously placed above Miller on the stairs to give the physical illusion that he is higher up in society than Miller and is looking down on him. In a certain...
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