Describe at least ONE influential idea in the text(s). Explain why the text(s) influential idea(s) are important for wider society to consider.
“Pleasantville” is a film directed by Gary Ross in 1998. The story begins in the 1990’s and this is where we meet the two main characters named David and Jennifer. These twins don’t get along; however, things change when they get trapped in a re-run of a 1950’s TV show called Pleasantville. Throughout the film, we are continuously seeing the idea of change. This influential idea is especially present as we watch Jennifer change, David change, and Pleasantville change. The influential idea is still important for wider society to consider and Gary Ross has used several techniques to get this message to us.
The influential idea of change is present as we see Jennifer’s character change from being a self-centred, boy-crazy teenager into a mature young lady who respects herself and values her future. In Jennifer’s exposition there is an extreme close-up of her smoking, immediately telling us that she’s rebellious and seen as the stereotypical cool girl. Jennifer’s costume is very revealing, demonstrating to us how much her character values appearance and how other people perceive her. Jennifer’s costume completely changes in Pleasantville and she hates her new clothes. We know this because the director uses dialogue when Jennifer says, “No one’s happy in a poodle skirt and sweater set.” So, it’s surprising to us when there is a long shot of her putting on Mary-Sue’s cardigan when she is cold because in the beginning, Jennifer hates the clothes in Pleasantville, but later in the film she willingly puts on a piece of 1950’s clothing that she initially hated. This suggests to us that she has developed a liking towards them. During this same scene there is a close-up of Mary-Sues glasses which Jennifer puts on, representing a “new perspective” which suggests to us that she is not only changing her appearance, but she is also changing the way she perceives life. Later in the film, Jennifer acquires the hobby of reading books which is something that she initially wouldn’t have done as ‘1990’s Jennifer.’ Gary Ross has uses dialogue again when Jennifer says “NO! This is like the only book I’ve ever read in my whole life, and you’re not going to put it on that fire!” This dialogue shows how much Jennifer has grown to care about her education and we can see how much she enjoys reading. This is influential to us as Gary Ross has made it clear that change can be beneficial. As an audience, we like Jennifer more at the end of the film than we do at the start. This is because we find her more likeable when she’s making the effort to become a better person than when she only cares about her image in society. This is important for society to consider because we often care too much about our popularity status’s rather than our traits that make us a good/genuine person and usually people who don’t care about their image or popularity status tend to be happier because they aren’t trying to live up to society’s standards. Gary Ross has used Jennifer as an example of this, influencing us to take similar steps to her.
The influential idea of change is also present as David’s character develops throughout the film. We quickly learn from David’s exposition that he is quite lazy as he is slouching on the couch whilst eating a bag of chips. David is watching Pleasantville on TV, and the camera switches from the TV to David several times as he recites the dialogue from the show, instantly showing the significance Pleasantville has in his life and we can tell he has a slight obsession with it. In Pleasantville, David insists that him and Jennifer shouldn’t change things there because he knows it will mess up their entire universe. Gary Ross uses dialogue when David says, “They’re happy like this!” and David says this to Jennifer when he is telling her that the people in Pleasantville are already happy. As David gains experience from being in Pleasantville, he starts to accept the changes happening there, which is a big development for the attitude of his character. Gary Ross also uses dialogue when David says, “Nothing went wrong. People change.” This is significant because this is a huge development in the attitude of his character, and it’s hard for us to imagine David changing when we see him in the beginning. When David arrives back in the 1990’s, he turns the TV off straight away to symbolise him “switching back to reality” and this also tells us that he’s no longer invested in Pleasantville because he’s realised that he shouldn’t compare his life to it. This shows the maturity David has gained from Pleasantville and his character also becomes kind and caring. Gary Ross has used this influential idea of change to make us really think about whether we make too much of an effort to make things perfect in our lives. This is an important idea for society to consider because often people find it difficult to accept change and many people want things to be viewed as perfect by society, like how David wanted his life to be perfect like Pleasantville. The director has made it clear to us that change is important, and he illustrates this by making David’s obsession with Pleasantville open our eyes about sometimes we can be slightly obsessed with achieving the “perfect life” without realising. Seeing the way this change impacts David’s mindset and overall happiness encourages us and watching David’s obsession go away influences us to change the way we view life.
The biggest change throughout the film is Pleasantville itself. In the beginning, the environment in Pleasantville is very much the stereotypical 1950’s way of living, representing to people that they should live this “perfect” life. Our first glimpse of the town is in black and white, and there isn’t one sign of imperfection because everything is carefully structured. As Jennifer and David gradually introduce change, we can see how oblivious the town is to things we would see as completely normal. Fire and rain are unheard of, and when the people of Pleasantville finally experience these things, they are confused and frightened. When Jennifer asks what’s outside of Pleasantville, the entire class looks at her like she’s crazy because Pleasantville is a continuous loop. It is then interesting at the end of the film, because one Pleasantville has changed, there is a close-up of a street sign pointing to the outside of Pleasantville. This is significant because it shows how quickly change can occur, and it shows how much of an impact a small change can have. Once Pleasantville is in colour, the bright colours that Gary Ross uses instantly show us how much happier everyone is, and it also represents their freedom because when the town is in black and white, everyone looked the same and lived the same life. At the very end of the film, the 1990’s fades out into a montage of Pleasantville, representing that there’s less of a divide between the two. This also shows the significance of its change because it makes us realise that having the “perfect” life won’t make us happier people and the people and Pleasantville represent this. Gary Ross makes us think about whether we need to change more things in our lives instead of constantly doing the same things (like Pleasantville in the beginning). This idea is important for wider society to consider because it encourages us to branch out more and make our lives more exciting, because society tend to follow what other people do instead of being different.
The film “Pleasantville” which is directed by Gary Ross includes the influential idea of change. This idea is especially significant as we see Jennifer change, David change, and Pleasantville itself change. Gary Ross has used a wide range of techniques to portray this idea to us and has encouraged us to open our minds to how it’s still important for society to consider in today’s world.