American Film History Analysis Essay

Topics: Long shot, Film techniques, Audience Pages: 7 (2861 words) Published: March 25, 2014
The Reason Behind the Scene –Why We Keep Choosing

“If the outlaw hero’s motto was ‘I don’t know what the law says, but I do know what’s right and wrong,’ the official hero’s was ‘We are a nation of laws, not of men” (Ray 62). A Certain Tendency of the Hollywood Cinema, by Robert Ray, looks at the various opposing values in America through the history of Hollywood films and cinema, which one vital value is the dichotomy of outlaw hero versus official hero. Official hero tends to be an idealogy of the law and society values, represented through characters such as police officers and lawyers, whereas outlaw hero tends to be more of an individual with own marks of traits, and own marks of actions. Ray discusses that in traditional films, how a single character can hold completely different traits , giving examples such as Terry, in the film On the Waterfront, who is a boxer but also a delicate person who also spends a chunk of time in taking care of pigeons as a hobby. But Ray’s most vital argument is about the thematic paradigm, the avoidance of choice, or the “denial of the necessity for choice” (Ray 63). Americans audiences have this indecisiveness of choosing what values or character traits they would like to side with. The audiences want both the extremes, such as outlaw hero and official hero, but the crucial point is that they do not wish to make a choice. Each hero has his own personalities and beliefs that the audiences can connect to, but these are multifaceted cannot be categorized into “good” and “bad”. The outlaw hero surely exhibits more of a life of fantasy due to all the plentiful excitements and adventures, taking matters into his own hands of determining what’s right and wrong, but the official hero also exhibit a life of stability and comfort; a safety zone per say. The two different personalities and beliefs of the heroes are actually within us. We are a compilation of both of these values, therefore regardless of which heroes seem more remarkable, it is actually impossible to choose only one. Through the examination of the three films, Shadow of a Doubt by Alfred Hitchcock, Scarface by Howard Hawks, and On the Waterfront by Elia Kazan, the reason why American audiences are unable to be persuaded to side outlaw hero or official can be investigated through their attitudes toward women and the ultimate consequence that hits the surrounding family. There are dissimilarities between how the outlaw hero and official view women. For an official hero, it can be seen that respect and responsibility are evident in his point of view. He is comfortable to have a stable relationship with a woman, hence “the settled life and respectability” (Ray 61). Contrastingly, the outlaw hero does not want the “settled life and confining responsibilities” (Ray 61). He wants to be free of entanglements and avoid responsibilities. If just so happens he does have a relationship, it is usually temporary and compromising. Uncle Charlie, in the film Shadow of a Doubt, Hitchcock introduces the official hero, detective Jack Graham to the audience. His attitude towards women is an outright characteristic of an official hero. He has immense respect for women depicted in the relationship with Young Charlie. In the three quarters, two shot where Young Charlie and Jack are sitting on a bench, it can be seen that Jack is very respectful to Young Charlie as to giving her a suitable amount of space in between them. Even though it acts as a barrier, it is evident that he respects Young Charlie’s freedom of choice, by not forcing her into any types of decision. Although Jack’s original intentions are to investigate about Uncle Charlie, he stumbles upon Young Charlie, which he cannot swipe away and wants a “settled life”. When Jack and Young Charlie are in the garage chatting, he proposes his love to her. In an over the shoulder shot from Young Charlie, the space between Jack and Young Charlie is once again separated. It is interesting that...
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