2017 Paper - Q7
Describe at least one idea that changed your perspective (point of view) in the text.
Explain how the idea changed your perspective, supporting your points with visual and / or oral language features.
Change is inevitable, and how much we embrace that change is up to us. Gary Ross explores this idea in his 1998 film ‘Pleasantville’ through the characters Big Bob, Jennifer and David. These characters changed my perspective to see that accepting change is a positive thing, and that there is more to be gained from change than there is to be lost.
Change can be difficult to embrace for some people, Big Bob is an example of this. He didn’t know how to respond to change, let alone accept it. As mayor of the town he wanted things to stay as “pleasant” as they had always been, he didn’t want the ‘coloured’ citizens changing things up. This is seen when he says “separate the things that are pleasant from the things that are unpleasant”, here he is introducing the idea of segregation because of his ignorance. People fear what they don’t understand, and in this case, Big Bob didn’t understand the changes happening in his town so he lashed out with prejudice and discrinimation. His powerful position of mayor helped him to influence the Pleasantville inhabitants. His influence is seen when a close up on a shop window reveals a sign that reads ‘no coloreds’. Big Bob forced his avoidance of change on his citizens, and they found it easier to listen to someone in a powerful position than try to comprehend the changes happening around them. The sign is referring to the newly coloured Pleasantville population, but is also an allusion to racial segregation in 1950’s America. This part of ‘Pleasantville’ is set in 1958 America, in which racial segregation was a promiante issue that impacted thousands. Gary Ross draws this allusion to show how dangerous it can be to avoid change, which changed my perspective to see that there is more to be gained from change than there is to be lost. Big Bob not accepting change led to a biased society with dangerous ideas being fed to them, and ultimately ended with unfair treatment of a minotrey. This showed the idea that change must be embraced.
Opposing this, was Jennifer and her acceptance of change. Jennifer was a catalyst for change, but did not find her identity until fully embracing the changes around her. In the beginning of the film, Jennifer was a self-absorbed, promiscuous teenager, but through the acceptance of change, grew to be a self-respecting, mature young adult. This change is seen through the contrast of how she views herself. She is shown by a long shot on the phone with her friend in the 1990s holding up the outfit she is planning to wear on her date. The black slip dress is described as “slutty”, which is later contrasted when she says, “I did the slut thing David. It got kinda old.” Jennifer’s acknowledgement of her old ways shows the idea that change should be embraced because once she was able to embrace the changes happening, she understood that she can be known for more that her sexuality and became a fully developed character. This changed my perspective to see that change is a positive thing because Jennifer benefited so much from embracing the inevitable. This can be translated into todays’ society because we are so focused on ourselves and how we are perceived by others that we constantly miss the opportunities for change and self-growth that are presented to us. Because of this, Jennifer changed my perspective to see that there is more to be gained from change than there is to be lost.
David was against change at first, as many humans are, but once he accepted the inevitability of it, he was able to become the kind, compassionate leader he was made to be. Gary Ross uses a high angle shot on David in the rain. He did this to make him look small and powerless as he is letting go of his desires to control the changes in Pleasantville. He is standing with his arms up to the sky, showing that he is powerless in a freed way. In this shot he is also demonstrating his leadership skills because he is showing the other teenagers that the change is not something to fear, but something that should be welcomed with open arms. This is a big step forward from earlier in the film when he tried to convince Jennifer to stop changing things in Pleasantville by saying, “you don’t understand, you’re messing with their universe.” David could do nothing to prevent change as it is unavoidable, once he began to understand and accept this, he grew into the person he was made to be. Because of this, David was a relatable character, and the audience being able to identify with him gave them a better understanding of the film as a whole. This changed my perspective to see that there is so much to be gained from change, and that it is a good thing.
The characters Big Bob, Jennifer and David in Gary Ross’ film ‘Pleasantville’ showed the idea that change is inevitable, and how much we embrace that change is up to us. This idea changed my perspective to see that there is more to be gained from change than there is to be lost.