First of all, I would like to say that this film is a classic. But, it is not a classic in the sense that The Godfather, Forrest Gump, or The Wizard of Oz is. I am suggesting this film because despite being labeled as a “classic”, not many people that I know have even heard of this film. I believe that this film will grow and build it’s following in years to come in sort of the same manner that The Shawshank Redemption and The Boondock Saints has. When this film reaches that cultural relevance and longevity 10 years from now, I am going to be proud to say that I endorced it.
The logline that Netflix states about the film is:
“It was perfect, pleasant… and boring. But not for long. Two kids are about to give this place a big, colorful shake-up.”
The film stars Tobey Maguire who plays a teenaged boy who is obsessed with a 1950’s television show called Pleasantville, where everything is pleasant. Reese Witherspoon plays his cooler older sister who stirs up trouble throughout the film. The main plot point in the film happens when the two are magically transported to the 1950’s black and white sit-com world of Pleasantville, playing the two main characters. The two notice how everything is so plain and odd. There are no toilets in the bathroom’s, the basketball team never misses a basket, words in books and fire fighters do not know how to put out fires; because there is no such thing as fires in Pleasantville.
Paul Walker plays Skip Martin who goes on a date with Reese Witherspoon’s character Mary Sue. Despite finding him super attractive, she doesn’t want to go out with him because he is plain, dull and boring. Mary Sue forces him to have sex with her, which changes his outlook on everything that Skip Martin knows. This is the beginning of the theme of “change” in the world of Pleasantville. Suddenly in this black and white world, there is color. With a long chain of events that you will see in this film, people start to act differently because they find the “change” that is within themselves. This is because the people of Pleasantville have found that they are capable of such things.
This is a visually striking film. Once people start to discover themselves in the film, you see many shots of striking black and white images sprinkled in with subtleties of color. The build up of color in the black and white world was very elegant. It wasn’t sudden and horrific to the viewers but it was to the characters living in this world. When the characters in the world of Pleasantville begin to turn from black and white to color, the town begins to live in fear and people become segregated. Everything that the people of the town has been forgotten and tension is created within the community.
People everywhere are afraid of things within themselves that they may or may not be capable of. We are afraid of change in the world and the change that we have in ourselves and as human beings we project that fear onto other things that develop ugly social situations. With our presidential election coming up, I believe that this film is a good one to watch that will help you realize what kind of change we want for our country. I say that because you will learn that in this film personal repression gives rise to political oppression. Politicians represent a false hope to many people and that is what Pleasantville represents. Authorities want us to live in a black and white world where we follow a certain model on how to live life but we cant. Everyone needs color in their lives and that is why the change from black and white to color represents the change in oppression to enlightenment.
If you are lacking color in your life then go and watch this film. Human beings have always been afraid of color because it is something that we do not understand, so hence we live in fear of change. But, that is exactly what we need; color.
All we need is color.