Inception

Throughout the film Inception, a major theme developed is the theme of reality versus dream. Structurally, the film develops two story lines. One is the story line for the entire film and one is Cobb’s personal journey. Both plots work simultaneously but, neither plot reaches closure. Inception is a blockbuster because it caters to many different types of audiences. The themes developed in the movie are relatable for a variety of viewers. It is not a blockbuster because the two separate plots create complexity and ambiguity.

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Chicago 10

One theme that is prevalent in the film Chicago 10 is the theme of counter-culture. Counter-culture includes sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll. This theme is evident in the scene where the Yippies decide to start their protest movement. They are shown smoking, doing drugs, and having sex. They then decide that they want to let the democrats know they don’t support their war. They want to go to Chicago to greet the hippies and other people with an alternative culture with alternative values. They also mention that they want to have rock bands playing in the park which will signify a coming together of part and politics. While the Yippies are discussing this you hear people having sex in he background. This scene is one of the many that demonstrate the popularity of sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll in the film and during this time period.  

Chicago 10 can be classified as documentary film. Due to the combination of actual footage and animation it is considered a less conventional documentary film. The conventional part of the documentary relates to the live footage of the anti-war protest. It explores the exact actions that the Yippies took in protesting the war. The animation part which is the less conventional part of the documentary, focuses on the events that occurred in the court room. There is no live footage in the film in the court room. 

The use of animation in Chicago 10 was artistic and appropriate in expressing the cultural movement. This adds an interesting aspect to the documentary. It keeps the audience interested and alert throughout the entire movie. This also places emphasis on the importance of the trial since it strays from the format of the rest of the film. Moreover, it mimics the chaos and disorder of the time period.

Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story

Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story develops the theme of feminism and impossible feminine physical ideals. Throughout the entire film barbie dolls are used as the characters instead of human actresses. This symbolism represents Karens image of an “ideal body”. Karen continuously strives to look this way and to have a body type that does not exist for anyone. The use of barbie dolls creates a mini set in which everything is perfect. This parallels the idea that Karen wanted her body to be perfect which was evidently unachievable. 

Immediately after seeing a Barbie doll play the main character, Karen Carpenter, you know the film is an avant garde film. The film has surrealistic and abstract aspects. The technique of using the dolls is surrealistic as it mocks the conventional thinking about celebrities and entertainment. This violates narrative conventions and classifies the film as an avant garde film. It can be considered abstract because the reason and message behind the use of the dolls is left up to the audience. The focus is on the object rather than people.

Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story does an excellent job in making the social statement of feminism. Barbie acts as a feminist symbol that focuses on outer beauty determining worth. The audience is able to unexpectedly identify and sympathize for the  barbie doll characters. Brechtian distanciation is the effect of estranging a spectator through means within the context and mainstream ideological expectations. It is also known as the alienation effect in which film theorists use cinema to challenge these mainstream ideologies. The artistic statement made is arguably ironic and satiric. Many people think that a celebrities life is carefree and they are perfect. In the film Haynes denotes that ideology by focusing on Karen’s troubled life, family, and her ongoing battle with eating disorders. 

The film Zero Dark Thirty explores the use of torture and its relevance in obtaining useful information to thwart terror. The film opens with a terrorist’s arms tied up while Dan, a CIA agent is interrogating him. Dan talks down to him by calling him a paper boy, a disgrace to humanity. As the interrogation continues and the terrorist refuses to give up information, the agents proceed in water boarding him while he is laying on the floor. Another scene in the movie that depicts torture is when the terrorists are detained and Dan puts one in a cell with barbed wires. He proceeds in force feeding him. These scenes depict and characterize the various aspects of torture used throughout the War on Terror.

As an auteur Bigelow uses femininity and authority to pay close attention to details and keep a close focus on the War on Terror. The female protagonist in the film is portrayed as a key character in uncovering the case. Bigelow also efficiently uses the formal film element of sound to add an artistic aspect. The sound of the helicopters in the film are detrimental, just as they were in Apocalypse Now. The loud, powerful helicopter blades build up the scenes by creating intensity and drama. Once the characters get inside the helicopter the music stops and the volume of the blades decrease. The decreasing volume of the loud, choppy blades suggests, to the audience and characters, that their mission is dangerous and special. The sound of the helicopters are so building, without them the characters know this means business. This factor also allows you to identify with the characters and better understand the scene.

Although torture was depicted accurately in its brutality in Zero Dark Thirty, the film suggests that the vital information uncovering Bin Laden’s whereabouts was obtained through other means. Initially, the water boarding was used to try and get information about an upcoming terrorist attack. However, the CIA agents failed to obtain any information to stop the attack by means of torture. As an auteur Bigelow uses  the female CIA agent Maya, to nullify the idea that torture was key. Maya learned important information about Bin Laden’s courier through a friendly discussion with the terrorists. Therefore, while depicted accurately the movie doesn’t endorse its use of torture.

Weekend

An important theme of violence is developed throughout the film Weekend. There are countless scenes in which fake violence is done to people and real violence is done to animals. An example of fake violence is the scene where there is a man, Paul, sitting in a car with blood all over him and he is supposed to be dead. As the camera turns to him it is obvious that he is breathing and moving slightly. This gives the audience the impression of fake violence since it is evident that Paul is not dead. On the other hand, an example of real animal violence is when people hoist a pig head and cut its throat. The aspect of fake violence on humans and real violence on animals places significance on humans. 

As a french new wave film, Weekend is the complete opposite of a traditional hollywood industrial film. The scene where Corrin explains her orgy is a perfect example of how the film strays from the typical Hollywood film. There are dark shadows on the actor and actress’ faces so, it is hard to make out their facial features and expressions. This makes it hard to identify and relate to the characters. As Corrin speaks there is loud music that over powers her words and that doesn’t fit the scene. Corrin also speaks in a monotone voice which makes the scene uninteresting. This strays from a traditional hollywood film because usually the audience is able to clearly hear what the characters are saying. The audience is also able to clearly see the characters and their facial features. 

Godard choses to distance and alienate the audience from the characters. Godard does this in order to stray from a traditional hollywood film. He does not want the audience to form a relationship with the characters so he makes them unrelatable. As discussed before, the scene where Corrin describes her orgy exhibits the fact that it is hard to develop a relationship with the characters because you can not see their faces nor hear what they are saying. During that scene Corrin stops to ask for a cigarette. This also hinders the relationship between the audience and the characters because Corrin seems uninterested and distracted while she is telling her story. This leads the audience to be uninterested with her story as well which makes it harder to identify with Corrin.

 

Far From Heaven

Throughout the film Far from Heaven a major theme of white supremacy is developed. There are countless examples where blacks are portrayed as lower class than whites and unequal in society. One example is when Mrs. Whitaker was talking to Raymond at the art show. He was the only black person in the entire place and Mrs. Whitaker was getting dirty looks and snares for being with him. This reveals that the white people are annoyed Raymond is there and dissatisfied that Mrs. Whitaker was with him. As the film progresses Mrs. Whitaker forms a meaningful relationship with Raymond. He takes her to a restaurant where she is the only white one. Now the roles are reversed and she gets a feel for how Raymond feels everyday. Once word gets out that Mrs. Whitaker and Raymond have been spending time together the town begins to shut her out and gossip about her. She is looked at as a criminal who has done something horribly wrong. This further develops the theme of white supremacy since the whites believe that Mrs. Whitaker shouldn’t be spending time with Raymond because he’s black. 

Throughout the film aspects of ideology such as race, class, gender, and sexual orientation are expressed. A large focus of the ideology is sexual interpretation. In the film, the role of the man in society is emphasized. The man of the family is supposed to be very masculine, be able to perform sexually, and provide for the family. An early example of stereotyping is when Mrs. Whitaker is introduced to a gay man at the art show. He is depicted as a negative character who people fear. This sets up the gay stereotype in the film. Another example of ideology is when Frank Whitaker hits his breaking point. Through out the film he tries to “cure” himself and become straight but he finally realizes he can’t run from the fact that he is gay anymore. Frank starts crying in front of his wife and children. This reveals the conflicts Frank faces regarding ideology. Crying is not a manly thing to do and Frank feels that he can’t fulfill his masculine roles because he is gay. 

Todd Haynes gives precedent to the ideological construction of sexual orientation in Far From Heaven. It is evident that Haynes prioritizes sexual orientation because Frank’s battle with being gay is the main conflict in the film. Multiple events in the film reveal a gay stereotype and that it is highly unaccepted and shameful to be gay. Therefore, Frank is afraid to face the facts. The film begins with exploring the underworld and secrecy that Frank lives in to hid the fact that he is gay. As the film progresses the audience experiences the internal and external struggles Frank endures. At the conclusion, Frank breaks down crying and admits he is gay. Another conflict in the film is the fact that Mrs. Whitaker develops a relationship with Raymond who is black. This conflict deals with race and class since a white woman of high social class in society is interacting with a black man of lower class. Although this conflict is important it stems from the main conflict of Frank being gay. Mrs. Whitaker begins conversing with Raymond when she is having trouble with Frank and her marriage. Since their relationship begins as a result of Frank being gay, the ideology of sexual orientation is given more precedent than the ideologies of race and class. 

 

Casablanca

One important theme in the film Casablanca is the theme of the inevitable past. Throughout the entire film there are many examples of characters who attempt to run from their past yet, it always catches up with them. Rick Blaine and Ilsa Lund fall in love in Paris while Ilsa thinks her husband, Victor Laszlo is dead. Ilsa leaves Rick without telling him and doesn’t show up at the train station. In order to cope with his broken heart Rick creates a lifestyle that attempts to repress these memories and move on. He transforms from a happy, loving man into a selfish, unhappy man. Just as Rick thought he had escaped the past, Ilsa comes into his cafe with her husband. As hard as Rick tried to forget and move on he could not escape his past since it is clear that he still loves Ilsa. 

In the film Casablanca, many different types of genres are displayed. The film first begins as a documentary with a voice over and the audience gets a sense of a formal film. Next, the audience sees the genre of propaganda. The audience is first introduced to this genre when we see the soldiers shoot a man and pull out papers from his pocket.  These papers suggest the idea that the film is urging the U.S. to fight hard to defeat the natzis. It also urges the U.S. to enter the war and invade Casablanca. As the film progresses there is a piano player and people singing in Rick’s cafe. Now the film turns into a musical genre. As the film further develops it takes on the genre of romance. It explores the love that Rick and Ilsa once had and how it still exists. The genre of romance is used for a vast majority of the film. 

Casablanca is a fantastic example of a hybrid film, a mash up of various genres. This makes the films a more artistic and less conventional film. By mixing specific conventions such a romance, propaganda, and music, the film becomes more artistic. This reveals a side of creativity and allows the audience to become more intrigued. The film becomes more artistic because the distinctions that separate different genres are crossed and creativity is released. The mixing of each genre does not lead viewers to get confused since the film is still able to establish important themes and moods.