March 24, 2004

Pleasantville on TNT

True allegory is really hard to find in movies these days. Even attempts at allegory are hard to find, anymore. I suppose all fictional stories are allegory to some degree, but blatant attempts at allegory are rare.

Pleasantville takes a real good shot at allegory. Using good actors like Tobey Maguire and Reese Witherspoon and especially William H. Macy, Joan Allen and Jeff Daniels really helps the symbol-story get told.

The fantasy here is Tobey and his teenage sister Reese get sucked into an old black & white TV series. Pleasantville the town/TV show is the absolute ultimate in a vacuous and antiseptic conservative conformity. The books have no print. There has never been a fire. No basketball player ever misses a shot or loses a game. Everybody is a virgin. That is, all are chaste until Reese comes along.

Tobey and Reese accidentally bring a little color into this black & white world. What starts to happen to this perfect community you could liken to Star Trek when space itself starts to come apart.

At first when the kids arrive, even though the male had been a big fan of the TV show, neither of them can tolerate the sacharine nature of all the people and the insane sameness of each day. As they start to influence things, beginning with Reese knocking over the captain of the basketball team, they start to like it better. They are not comfortable without their shadows.

Tobey's Mom, via the guidance of Reese, discovers the wonders of masturbation and starts a fire in the tree outside the window.

The basic point of this cute little flick is that we need the qualities of lust, meanness, the dark side of life, in order to be happy. When the black and white characters start to find their color, they become interesting; discovering talents for painting and music. Naturally, the folks who resist their color the most, start to hate and persecute the ones who accept it, resulting in violence, something else they had never experienced before.

I managed to watch this even with all the unnecessary intermissions built in to accomodate advertising. Something else you get with cable movies is advertising during the action, down at the bottom of the screen. Capitalist republics do have their down side.

Posted by Wayne at March 24, 2004 11:23 PM
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