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Blu-ray Reviews

HTF Blu-ray Review: PLEASANTVILLE



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14 replies to this topic

#1 of 15 OFFLINE   Michael Reuben

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Posted February 14 2011 - 04:38 PM


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#2 of 15 OFFLINE   Adam Gregorich

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Posted February 14 2011 - 05:32 PM

Very interesting take on the movie.  I didn't think about some of the issues you mentioned the first time I saw it.  I'll be interested to see how I feel after watching the BD,

#3 of 15 OFFLINE   David_B_K

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Posted February 15 2011 - 02:11 AM

Great review, Michael. That's exactly the way I have always seen the movie.

#4 of 15 OFFLINE   Colin Jacobson

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Posted February 15 2011 - 09:57 AM

I agree with this review.  When I wrote up the movie for my own review many years ago, I felt the same way: it's essentially propaganda that pretends to support free thought but really only supports free thought with which it agrees.  Heavy-handed claptrap!
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#5 of 15 OFFLINE   Hollywoodaholic

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Posted February 16 2011 - 02:30 AM

My fourteen year-old son loved the movie without even pondering the subtext. He enjoyed it on a purely entertainment level (and this from a kid who doesn't usually watch anything black & white). We adults are more cynically-tuned, but it is possible to just appreciate this on a lighter level.

#6 of 15 OFFLINE   Michael Reuben

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Posted February 16 2011 - 02:52 AM

Thanks for the reference, Colin. An interesting read. I'm probably closer to your father's interpretation, because, like him, I started from the internal inconsistencies in the use of color, then worked outward. You also seem to have identified a greater thematic consistency than I was able to with your idea of the film as an "attempt to deify the 1960s". I'm not willing to concede Pleasantville that much coherence, which is why I opted for a more generic phrase ("cultural and political issues that have divided America for decades" -- I probably should have said "centuries"  ).


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#7 of 15 OFFLINE   Chad R

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Posted February 16 2011 - 08:30 AM

Huh, I never read it as "emotion" that precipitated the colorization, so much as the willingness to change. I guess there's several different ways to read it.

#8 of 15 OFFLINE   Michael Reuben

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Posted February 16 2011 - 09:25 AM


Originally Posted by Hollywoodaholic 

Huh, I never read it as "emotion" that precipitated the colorization, so much as the willingness to change. I guess there's several different ways to read it.


If there's anything in the mayor's tirade at trial that indicates a willingess to change, I can't find it.


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#9 of 15 OFFLINE   PaulDA

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Posted March 05 2011 - 05:15 AM

I'd have to re-watch the film to be sure, but as far as I can remember, Betty (the mom) does NOT change to colour immediately after her "hot bath". She changes in the kitchen when George is asking for the snacks (for the mayor). Also, before people start changing, objects are the first to undergo a colour change and many people see the coloured objects without changing themselves. Could not the changes, then, be triggered by an acceptance of the "truthfulness" of the coloured perspective? No matter the strength of an emotional reaction in the film, it seems the change of colour in people stems from the moment when they adopt the view that the coloured perspective offers them something better than the previous one OR when they are confronted with irrefutable evidence that the colour is not going to go away (again, I've only seen the film once, so my theory is admittedly tenuous).
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#10 of 15 OFFLINE   Paul Penna

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Posted March 05 2011 - 05:32 AM

I agree with your take on the film. What starts out as a sweet and whimsical tale becomes a tedious and heavy-handed sermon. I wind up feeling betrayed, like after a few bites into a nice, shiny red apple and then finding a worm.

#11 of 15 OFFLINE   Rodney

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Posted March 05 2011 - 07:47 AM



Originally Posted by Colin Jacobson 

I agree with this review.  When I wrote up the movie for my own review many years ago, I felt the same way: it's essentially propaganda that pretends to support free thought but really only supports free thought with which it agrees.  Heavy-handed claptrap!


I totally agree!


What an interesting thread this has turned out to be. It is refreshing to read that others feel the same way as I do about this film. I was extremely disappointed with this film when I saw it.


Thanks for the review, Michael.


-Rodney


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#12 of 15 OFFLINE   Michael Reuben

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Posted March 05 2011 - 08:20 AM


[quote]Originally Posted by PaulDA [url=/forum/thread/308850/htf-blu-ray-review-pleasantville#post_3787629]  The odd thing is that I didn't have a strong reaction either way when I first saw it in the theater, probably because I was dazzled by the effects. It was only on this recent viewing that the mixed messages (and that's putting it mildly) seemed so glaring.


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#13 of 15 OFFLINE   PaulDA

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Posted March 05 2011 - 08:46 AM

I'm tempted to re-watch the film tonight (if I'm not too sleepy after the hockey game). If not tonight, definitely soon as I am now curious to see how my theory holds up (or not).
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#14 of 15 OFFLINE   RickER

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Posted March 05 2011 - 09:02 AM

My take has always been that Pleasantville was not only black and white in look, but also in life. There was no gray area (ha! a funny) in what they believed.

They were perfect, they had no sin, and they also had no choices. Once they saw they could make a choice, free will, good or bad, the "garden of Eden" began to change around them. Once a person "saw the light", they too would change to color.

I bought the Blu-ray, but have not watched it yet. As I recall from the last time i watched the movie, 7 or 8 years ago so I could be remembering wrong, one of the first things to change color was an apple. My 2 cents, for what it's worth.


#15 of 15 OFFLINE   PaulDA

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Posted March 05 2011 - 02:47 PM

The apple is an early convert to colour and your observation about viewpoints being "black and white" dovetails with some of the ideas I've had since my last post (though I've not watched it again). I'd like to add the following to my theory for further discussion: Each character in Pleasantville is limited by his (or her) narrowly defined characteristics--the "good parents", "the silly girls", the "simple-minded jock" and so on. Consider that, even as their universe begins to change (in subtle and unsubtle fashion), the characters tend to be guided by their defining characteristics in their reactions to that change. Some teens change faster than others (roughly mirroring teens that are perhaps more open to experiment and change than others). Others cling to their original mould (they are strongly defined in archetypical roles--father (George), mayor, older generation) for much longer. The mayor, in particular, is interesting to consider. He appears to be designed as a character to which everyone else, particularly the 40+ crowd, is "programmed" to defer (witness the scene at the barber shop). He has the most to lose from the change AND he is in the most powerful position to sway others--others who are pre-disposed to both follow directions (scripted behaviour) and especially directions from "the leader". So, if we combine a threatened leader who holds considerably sway over a significant portion of the population (and who might be inclined to strongly resist change), with a pretty clear (though not uniform) breakdown of older vs younger people in the town (apart from Mr. Johnson (?) and "the mom", most of the colour converts are quite young IIRC) AND the less imaginative teens/less rebellious teens (of which there are many in real life--I taught high school for nearly 10 years and I've seen the gamut), you get a critical mass of people who resist the change in increasingly severe terms. As for the courtroom scene, I will have to re-watch it to see if it fits my theory or not. From what I remember, though, the final change happens when David (Bud) forces the mayor to concede that change, regardless of its desirability, is irreversible. The leader's resistance to change is thus broken, clearing the way to making the changes "universal". (I propose this with some reservation pending a re-watching of the film). I do concur that the final wrap-up is weak (though not enough to prevent me from enjoying the film overall). The marathon of shows should have been colourized, at the very least, and the decision of Jennifer (Mary-Sue) to stay behind is inconsistent with the rest of the film. At any rate, this is far more analysis than I ever anticipated doing of a film that I considered a pleasant (pun intended) diversion when I watched it. But that is one of the beauties of film--something seemingly simple can (though does not always, by any stretch) provoke thoughtful reflection and discussion. In the end, this thread has made me appreciate the film all the more for having prompted such a discussion. My thanks to the reviewer for prodding me to dig deeper into the film.
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