In the movie Return to paradise directed by Michael Asimow, Asimow raises profound questions about the gulf between law and justice and about personal moral responsibility. Some of the main ethical questions raised in the movie are, Are we being ethnocentric about how the Malaysian chief treat the case, should Sheriff go to prison for Lewis? And did Beth unethically trick sheriff into going by getting into an affair and not telling the full truth. Sheriff seems to be a nice relaxed guy and seems to be your average guy who knows his place in the world, but when Beth confronts him about Lewis’s situation, his whole life changes and he begins off as a shallow coward and over time begins to emerge. For eight days he goes through a spiritual transformation, sheriff decides to accept his fate. He comes to the conclusion that he will stay for Lewis due to the guilt. Lewis is still executed, but we are left with the impression that sheriff has found peace within his heart.
Tony is a married man and works as an architect. When Beth confronts him, like sheriff, he is deeply disturbed by the decision he will have to make, and does not know what to do. He agrees to return to Malaysia, but only if Sheriff returns too. Sheriff remains resistant to the idea, and so Tony decides to accept the full six years. After much soul-searching sheriff eventually accepts his share of responsibility. After Beth is revealed as the sister of Lewis, Tony freaks out and flees the country, leaving sheriff and Lewis to suffer. The fact that he left Lewis to die because he found out Beth was his sister shows that he may never wanted to go back, and was waiting for and excuse to escape. Beth is the sister and lawyer of Lewis. Through love of her brother and her skill as a lawyer Beth tries her hardest to keep her brother off death row. She wins Tony over at first, and tries to get sheriff to join as well- using guilt, logic, money, and even sex to shift his mind.
Over time she convinces both of them to return for lewis and after all her desperate attempts to save lewis due to the ruthless and heatless newspaper journalist lewis is still hung. When sheriff was faced with the possibility of prison in a third world country, he sought council from his distant father, who told him to go to prison and suffer the consequences of his actions. Tony talked to his wife about the idea, and Beth relied on her own instincts to do what she thought was right. Initially, and for a majority film, sherif’s answer was no. This was mostly because of fear and the unknown of prison. After discussing it with his wife Tony agrees to the three-year sentence, and then after sheriff declines, decides on his own to take the full six years in order to save him.
Beth decides to continually pursues both men, despite the fact that Tony has already agreed. She does this to decrease the scentence for both men. Sheriffs decision was influenced by no one but himself. His, father, Beth, Tony and Tony’s wife all insisted that he accept the sentence, but out of selfishness he thought of only his safety and declined. Tony’s decision came initially out of discussion with his wife, but was eventually persuaded through guilt to accept the full sentence. Beth came to her decision through love of her brother, but also respect and compassion for Tony and sheriff who would have to suffer for lewis’s life. Although this film certainly holds no happy ending, the bond between sheriff and beth is now strong and she has agreed to wait for his freedom.
Courtney from Study Moose
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