Cool Hand Luke Movie Critique: Courage and Self-Respect

Topics: Cool Hand Luke, Paul Newman, Prison Pages: 2 (768 words) Published: October 16, 2008
Cool Hand Luke directed by the reputable Stuart Rosenberg and nominated for four Oscars is a tragic tale of an ordinary individual rising up the courage to oppose the establishment, thus becoming a hero. Cool Hand Luke weaves a rich tapestry of the prison life on both sides of the establishment and the injustices of the system. In short Cool Hand Luke is a movie that focuses on the struggles of a single courageous man and his quest for freedom. After being incarcerated for a petty crime and sent to a chain-gang jail, Lucas Jackson (Paul Newman) has risen up the ranks of the establishment and become the prisoners’ idol as well as the guard’s enemy. Jacksons’s contrasting relationship with the guards and the prisoners is an important aspect to the plot, as is his desire to escape. Luke’s initial break-out is incited by the news of his mother’s death. Although he is caught, his determination to escape is only slightly dampened, so he merely breaks out once again and fails. Thus, the guards begin to wage a campaign to finally break Luke’s spirit once and for all, by putting him to work and nearly torturing him to death. Luke finally concedes and begs for mercy. After this episode Luke’s fellow prisoners turn their backs on him upon realizing that he is just human after all, not the invincible hero that they had made him out to be. Luke is broken, but is not yet ready to give up, as he escapes one last time. Luke runs away and escapes into an old church, launching into a soliloquy asking God for guidance. God’s answer comes in the form of desertion as the police encircle the church. Luke realizes that he’s a goner no matter what, so he approaches a window and shouts the famous line “what we have here is a failure to communicate.” In return for his final act of defiance he gets a fatal shot in the throat. Remaining defiant to the end is an expected characteristic of Luke’s courageous nature. Paul Newman’s charismatic performance as Luke is truly the heart of the...
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