Pleasantville the 1998 Film, "Pleasantville," Written and Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :


The 1998 film, "Pleasantville," written and directed by Gary Ross, is an insightful commentary of society, both past and present. While many today are clamoring about the moral decay of family and society at large, and often compare today with the "Father Knows Best" world of the past, "Pleasantville" offers a glimpse into what the world would be like if it really was a sitcom from the 1950's. And what it ultimately shows is that today's society, with warts and all, has profound value and power, and rather than falling into a pit of moral decay, the world is actually in a state of continuous forward state of progress.

By designing the homogenous, black and white world, Ross is able to present the deception of 1950's family values and then color it with reality and truth. The black and white sitcom also allows him to present the danger of conformity and the importance of individuality. Moreover, by beginning the film in present-day and then transporting the characters back to the 1950's sitcom, Ross creates an updated version of the "Wizard of Oz," in which the ending echoes the theme, "there's no
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place like home."

David and Jennifer each cope with the divorce of their parents in different ways. Jennifer is promiscuous, while David, much like Dorothy in Oz, has become enchanted by life over the rainbow, or in this instance, life on the tube.

When they are transported to "Pleasantville," David could not have been happier, while Jennifer is not so pleased. She, unlike David, enjoyed her life and missed the color and complexity of life.

Ross paints a black and white world where all is seemingly perfect. Although the weather is the ideal temperature and it never rains, there are numerous taboos, particularly concerning sex and profanity. There are not even any toilets in Pleasantville because that would concern unpleasantness. Life is always pleasant in Pleasantville, with no evil thoughts or deeds. Ross creates life as it really would be like if one were transported into a "Father Knows Best," "Donna Reed," or "Ozzie and Harriet" sitcom.

At first, David is ecstatic to be living in Pleasantville, a place he had spent hours watching on television, dreaming of a life where all is perfect and innocent.…

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Work Cited

Pleasantville. Director: Gary Ross. New Line Cinema. 1998.

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