“HoooHaaa!” A few days ago, I chose to view and analyze the popular movie Scent of a Woman. I had never seen the movie before but had only heard good things about it. I can now say good things about this movie from personal experience. This film was extraordinary. The movie Scent of a Woman is about Oscar winning actor Al Pacino who plays a retired Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade, an embittered Army veteran who is now blind, not to mention alcoholic, angry and foul-mouthed. Of course, he’s also witty and bright to say the least.
Slade is looking to have the last of his kicks before he “blows his brains out.” However, Slade is not alone is this journey. He ends up taking young student Charlie Simms, Slade’s Thanksgiving aid, along for the ride. In the next few pages, parts of this film that were accurately and inaccurately portrayed regarding sexuality and explanations for the behaviors presented by the main character, Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade, in the movie Scent of a Woman will be reviewed.
Sexuality as defined on the first day of class is the way we act or behave; our preferences or orientation. Everyone of us has a different view of sexuality in general, in others, and in ourselves. The first time we encounter Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade we get the impression of a loud-mouthed, crude, old geezer whose only form of entertainment is to brutally insult strangers and talk about women in a politically-incorrect fashion. He’s definitely not likable and even scares Charlie a little bit. After a while, we learn his reason for his trip; Slade’s going to take himself on “a little tour of pleasures,” such as visiting his brother and making love to a nice lady. After that he’s going to kill himself. Why anyone would want to do this is very hard to understand.
As the movie progresses, we actually start to pity the Colonel. He blinded himself in a stupid grenade-juggling accident, and he desperately needs a woman in his life but feels that with no eyesight he could never find one. He keeps knocking things to do off his list, and as the list gets shorter Charlie keeps watching with growing alarm for Frank’s safety. Slade, as I said earlier, comes off as a very bitter man and talks a lot about women very explicitly and provocatively. At first, he comes off as offensive and very chauvinistic. But as the story goes on and Slade begins to open up to Simms, it becomes apparent that Slade’s crude and blunt language about women is only his aggressive way of sharing his loneliness and his need to love a woman and wake up next to her in the morning.
He describes women in a fashion that shows a true appreciation for the female body, the scent and touch of a woman, and a real sensual understanding and perception of true femininity. He meets a beautiful woman while dining with Charlie and they approach her and Slade dashingly and charmingly convinces the woman “Donna” to allow them to sit with her and learn to tango with him.
Slade wisps Donna off her feet and makes her forget that her expected dinner date is very late. It is in this scene that Slade’s compassion and gentleness comes out.
I found Slade to be confident in his sexuality but very alone. I also think he is more than accurate on understanding sexuality in general concerning women. He, at first, talks about women like they are meat; only things to pleasure men. The definition of a stereotype is “a belief that all members of a particular group have certain characteristics” ( Byer & Shainberg, p. 19).
Unfortunately, Slade represents, although over-exaggerated, the way many men view women in today’s society. Viewing women as inferior to men and speaking of them disrespectfully shows a very inaccurate view of females. Slade appears to be very stereotypical of women and sex.
Slade’s behavior towards others, especially Charlie, is understandable but certainly not condonable. He is bitter because he is not the young, powerful, seeing man that he once was. He was recognized as a courageous solider of war and now can barely recognize people himself due to his blindness.
Throughout the movie, he constantly offends, belittles, embarrasses, and frightens almost every person he comes into contact with. It is obvious the lack of self-fulfillment he has through his constant outbursts of rudeness and his plan to kill himself. He doesn’t see what he has left to live for; he is blind, old, unloved, and most importantly, alone. He behaves this way due to his loneliness and out of bitterness and defensiveness.
Finally at the end of the movie, Charlie convinces Slade to not kill himself because he has so much more to give than he thinks he does. Slade decides to go to Charlie’s school and defend him in a school trial to show is love for Charlie and the compassion he has for him. Slade doesn’t show a huge turn around in his behavior at the end of the movie, but there are definitely signs of the Colonel having a different outlook on life and the world he initially showed so much hate towards.
Although it comes across in the beginning of the film that Slade has a very false and almost perverted view of sexuality, it is later seen that Slade’s loss of eyesight causes his other senses to become heightened and I think causes him to deeply desire kinder and more fulfilling things like the true love of a wonderful woman. I truly enjoyed this movie and analyzing its character’s views on sexuality.