Question: Describe at least one character or individual in the text. Explain how the character/individual helped you understand an important message.
Intro: Steven Spielberg’s film “Catch Me If You Can” follows the escapades of Frank Abagnale Jnr (Frank) as he impersonates high-ranking occupations (pilot, doctor and lawyer) while evading the FBI. Spielberg uses Frank as a character to help his audience understand the important message that everyone is driven by the desire to belong, and the character of Frank Snr to help his audience understand that displays of opulence cannot purchase relationships. After watching his film, Spielberg hopes that his audience will gain a better appreciation of the difficulty of being a child whose parents have divorced.
Paragraph 1: Through the character of Frank, the audience is able to understand an important message: humans have an innate desire to belong.
Frank is presented to the audience as a normal 16 year old boy: immature and creative - albeit obsessed with his father. During Christmas, we are exposed to the dynamic of Frank’s family wherein he is the centre of attention. Spielberg employs soft, yellow colouration in this scene to communicate the sense of warmth and belonging that Frank experiences in his family. This is developed through the use of mise-en-scene where Frank stands in the centre of the frame surrounded by his parents - illustrating his position in his family as a deeply-loved child. Throughout this scene, Judy Garland’s song “Embraceable You” is played (diagetic) - “Embrace me, you sweet embraceable you … Embrace me, you irreplaceable you” - adding to the sense of belonging that Spielberg wants his audience to understand Frank has. Here, in the embrace of his parents, Frank is visibly secure and understands his position in the world.
However, Frank’s sense of belonging is suddenly usurped when he discovers that his parents are getting divorced. Consequently, Frank is visibly distraught and lost - emphasised by a close-up shot of his face which was used to show the audience his emotion - and it is a sharp juxtaposition with the Christmas scene where he was calm and secure. Additionally, Spielberg uses chiaroscuro lighting which, combined with with a close-up of Frank’s face, displays his confusion and inability to understand his parents’ divorce. Dark lighting is contrasted by bright lighting across his face shows that he is conflicted by the reality of their divorce.
Unable to comprehend this, Frank resorts to a life of crime in order to regain his lost belonging - believing that he could reconcile his parents’ relationship by improving their financial situation; an idea which his father, Frank Snr, impressed upon him through his displays of wealth to please his mother. This leads to Frank impersonating a pilot, doctor and lawyer as he believes that gaining money will reconcile his parents’ relationship.
Through the character of Frank, the audience is able to understand the important message that humans have an innate desire to belong. As soon as Frank’s sense of belonging was removed, he strived to regain his belonging because he needed it to fell validation, security and identity. While he belonged in his family, he felt safe; but when his parents divorced, his innate desire to feel belonging propelled him into a life of crime to regain it. Spielberg wanted to communicate this message to explain the decisions many children of divorced parents made. As a child whose parents divorced, it was important for Spielberg to do this in order to evoke sympathy from his audience about the difficulty of being in such a position. By using the character of Frank - a normal 16 year old - to communicate this important message, the audience was able to understand that many children whose parents divorced often resort to crime in order to satisfy their innate desire to belong and not due to inherent malice.
Thanks for reading
Kia ora FABS,
Your introduction does a fantastic job of responding to the question. You’ve used the language from the question well and are using some interesting vocabulary that English kaiako definitely appreciate.
Before I give any more feedback, could you please just confirm for me if this is just one body paragraph (and you would write two more of these in the actual exam) or if you’re submitting it as entire essay for feedback.
This is just my intro and body paragraph; i’m planning to write 2 body paragraphs for my essay
Thanks for clarifying.
That is a lot in one body paragraph for a Level 1 essay. You would not need three paragraphs at this length.
I would recommend splitting this paragraph into two and ensuring that you are referring back to the question more. You’ve got a great understanding of the text and use of techniques; it just needs to be tailored to the question more. Having this split into two body paragraphs with links at the beginning and end of each paragraph to the question would ensure that you are staying on track with your argument. Without linking back to the question more clearly and consistently, the essay runs the risk of reading more like a text summary, even with film techniques woven in.
Thanks for sharing your mahi with us. Feel free to post an edited paragraph if you want more feedback on it.
Thanks Melissaf for your feedback! I really appreciate your help.
This is my edited paragraph:
An important message that the audience understood through Frank was that everyone is driven by the desire to be loved.
Near the beginning of the film, Frank’s parents divorce and we see him propel himself into a life of crime in order to regain he received in his parent’s marriage. From there, through the use of mise-en-scene which shows him surrounded by others and upbeat soundtracks selected by Spielberg, the audience is led to believe that Frank’s wealth and associated community has satisfied his desire to be loved, but the audience soon realises that this is untrue.
After escaping the airplane that brought him to America from France, the audience sees Frank running towards his mother’s home - in tattered clothes and with dishevelled hair; this costume communicating the idea that he is desperate. The mise-en-scene of green and red conveys Christmas-time - a time where people are loved - which is a strong juxtaposition with the lonely and unloved Frank. Here, the important message that everyone is driven by the desire to be loved is understood by the audience because we see that all Frank wanted was to be loved by his others. As he approaches his mother’s home, he is on the outside while she, her new husband and child are on the inside. We are given a close-up of Frank’s face - which is visibly heartbroken to find that the love he pursued had been given to others. The ‘barrier’ of the house’s exterior blocking him from his mother symbolises that his route towards satisfying his desire to be loved has been blocked. In this moment, through Spielberg’s excellent use of symbolism and the close-up shot, we see that Frank simply wanted to be loved. This important message, everyone is driven by the desire to be loved, is understood by the audience through Frank’s heartbroken reaction, accentuated by symbolism and juxtaposition, to his mother moving on.
Spielberg wanted to communicate this important message as, since he was a child whose parents also divorced, he also pursued this desire to be loved as Frank did. Spielberg was able to relate to the insatiable desire to belong brought about by his parent’s divorce and wanted to allow his audience to understand this also to evoke sympathy, and perhaps a tenderness towards those in similar conditions. By using Frank to communicate this important message, the audience can easily understand that everyone is driven by the desire to belong - that was all Frank wanted in the end.
Just to clarify, I plan to do an intro, two body paragraphs and a conclusion