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Analysis of “Pleasantville” Essay

The film ‘Pleasantville’ is about two modern teenagers, David and his sister Jennifer, somehow being transported into the television, ending up in Pleasantville – a 1950s black and white sitcoms. David knows that they have to act like the ‘real’ characters as he definitely knows the world well, but soon he realises that it is impossible – that change is inevitable, which is the main theme of the movie.

The two characters from the modern world have the role of bringing ‘evil’ knowledge to the citizen of Pleasantville. They brought changes to the town, adding colours to it.

Change is an important element in this film. It shows that change is inevitable by introducing two characters into a never-changing world. Both are uneasy when they arrive. However, Jennifer threatens to rebel and states that “no one is happy in a poodle skirt and sweater set”. The citizen of Pleasantville have only learned about the geography of two streets, the firemen have never seen a fire, and sex and double beds do not even exist. They live their lives according to their routines. “Where is my dinner?” Mr Parker asks when he is surprised that the dinner is not ready for in at quarter to six. Though, the curiosities of the people living in Pleasantville lead them to change. “What is outside Pleasantville?” some ask.

The people of Pleasantville are no longer innocent, and they are ready to change. This is shown by the shifting of people from black and white to colour. The people can only gain colours when they break their barriers, discovering the missing element in their lives. Some gain colour from having sex, Mary-Sue gains colour from reading books and Bud gains colour from getting into a fight. Pleasantville is no longer Pleasantville. The basketball team starts missing shots, and colours can be seen everywhere. Bud is horrified when he sees the changes, but soon realises that it is hardly life when all people do is to follow the robotic routines.

Not all people react pleasantly with the changes. A committee is set up to limit the use of colours, kinds of music and books, and shutting down Lover’s Lane. The film comments on censorship and the social discriminations base on racial background.

The plot of Pleasantville is relatively simple – two real people being sucked into an unreal world. However, it makes allusion to the real world, such as segregation and censorship. It also deliver its message successfully, that change is inevitable. The scenes where the black and white tree bursting into bright orange flame, and the Lover’s Lane as Eden, have strong visual impact on the audience, and allows the audience to re-evaluate our society.


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