(ca) wrote: Pleasantville is a 1998 comedy, drama, science fiction & fantasy directed and written by Gary Ross. The film stars Tobey Maguire (David/ Bud Parker), Reese Witherspoon (Jennifer/Mary Sue), Jeff Daniels (Bill Johnson), Joan Allen (Betty Parker), William H. Macy (George Parker), and J. T. Walsh (Big Bob) with supporting roles from Don Knotts (TV Repair guy), Paul Walker (Skip Martin), and Jane Kaczmarek (David's Mother). Pleasantville was a great movie because it showed social changes using color as the characters experienced new changes in the way they see life.The film is about two siblings who magically get inside a 1950s black and white television sitcom called Pleasantville through a remote control. The sitcom shows a perfect community where the firefighter only saves cats from the trees, the weather is always perfect, and the basketball team never misses a shot. In Pleasantville, both David and Jennifer are forced to take on the roles of Bud and Mary-Sue. But as they try to play their roles, their presence soon influences drastic changes. The people of Pleasantville discover art, books, music, and freedom. As new colors start to spread through the town, this change is not accepted by the Mayor and the black and white citizens of the town. Pleasantville was a place of innocence and a perfect world. Through the usage of color, the first major social issue was the discovery of sex. When Skip Martin takes Jennifer to the Lover's lane for a romantic time and hand holding. Jennifer takes control and has sex with Skip Martin- a concept unknown to everyone in Pleasantville. Joe Leydon observes that, "At first, only flowers reveal their natural colors. But then the virus starts to spread, and soon some of the other sexually awakened teens blossom with vibrant flesh tones." (Leydon) Slowly, Pleasantville begins changing from black and white to color, starting from flowers, cars, and fruits to people's faces who experience new emotions. This color change is believed to be an act of sin by the mayor and the rest of the black and white citizens of Pleasantville. This social change represents how most of the cultures and religions view sex today. Many religious people frown up the movie starting from this scene because they think it promotes sexual behavior. Some religions and its people with a deeper understanding of faith look beyond this issue and discover the sociological meaning. This scene, the first colored rose, and all the following color changes develop the idea that the black and white society is becoming colorized. It opens a door to happiness and freedom. Another issue in Pleasantville was Feminism. Betty Parker is a perfect 1950s housewife who cooks and cleans every day. Betty also has a secret relationship with the soda shop owner Bill Johnson which causes problems in her marriage with George. She wants to change, but she feels forced by social expectations to disguise her true self because she is afraid she will get frowned upon by the rest of the town for being different than other housewives. She soon realizes that change is good and that accepting it is the right thing to do and shows her true self to her husband. When George finds out about her color change he says, "Now you listen to me. You're coming to this meeting. You're going to put on some makeup. You're going to be home at six o'clock every night, and you're going to have dinner ready on this table." (Macy). Betty smiles at him kindly and reply's "No, I'm not, sweetie." (Allen). This is a very powerful scene from the movie because Betty refuses to obey her husband and tells him what she is really thinking for the very first time. Feminism has been a great issue since 1848, and this movie shows how hard it is for a woman, in this case, Betty, to come out of her shell and express her true self. Another major social change happens when Bud Parker and Bill Johnson are sent to trial for painting banned drawing using banned colors on the side of the buildings. This is Pleasantville's first trial ever and represents the social issue of racism, colored people vs. non-colored people. When Big Bob, the mayor, says that this behavior needs to stop, Bud Parker replies with, "That's just the point! It can't stop at once, because it's in you, and you can't stop something that's inside you."(Parker). Then he proceeds to convince his dad, George Parker, that these emotions are real by saying, "I know you miss her, I mean, you told me you did. But maybe it's not just the cooking or the cleaning that you miss. Maybe it's something else. Maybe you can't even describe it. Maybe you only know it when it's gone. Maybe it's like there's a whole piece of you that's missing, too. Look at her, Dad. Doesn't she look pretty like that? Doesn't she look just as beautiful as the first time you met her? Do you really want her back the way she was? Doesn't she look wonderful? Now, don't you wish you could tell her that?" (Parker) Throughout history, there has always been a problem between non-colored and colored people. This trial scene represented how hard it was to convince people to accept the change. When the non-colored people see the nude painting of Betty Parker on the window of Bill Johnsons soda shop, they start a riot against the colored people. Non-colored people destroy the shops, burn the books, and harass the colored people in the street. As the people gain more color, the mayor closes the lover's lane and the library, bans certain genre of music, or using paint other than black, white, or gray. In protest, Bud Parker and Bill Johnson paint a colorful mural on a wall of all the things wrong with the town. When they go trial in front of the people, Bud defend their actions, and convinces people there are much more feelings inside of them if they just let go. He also eventually stirs enough anger in Big Bob that even he becomes colored as well. By the time the trial is over, mayor, and the entire town and non-colored people, gain color, and this ends the color segregation. Some may say Jennifer should have gone back home with David to challenge and make herself a better person back home because she is the one who ruined a perfect town. This claim carries little weight, however, given Joe Leydon's statement that, "Pleasantville is a place where the locals skirt perilously close to fascism when their way of life is threatened. But that way of life may have much to offer: The longer Jennifer stays, the more she grows as an individual - she even starts to read books - and the less she feels the need to play the role of a hip and promiscuous '90s teen." (Leydon) Jennifer was an outgoing and shallow teenage who did not care about school or education. Jennifer decision to stay in Pleasantville showed a great change in her character compared to the beginning of the movie. Pleasantville changed her views on how she perceived the real world and her place in it. Jennifer stayed to finish her education, while David used the remote control to return to the real world to his mom with new knowledge. It shows that their trip to Pleasantville turned out to be for the better after all. Of course, many will probably disagree with the assertion that the new found freedom in Pleasantville will help the characters grow and experience new things instead of the same old perfect routine. Some might even suggest, for example, Peter T Chattaway, says, "In the end, the characters have no clear idea what to do with their freedom, but they look forward to their directionless futures with wonder nonetheless. Why they should do so is puzzling." (Chattaway). The Pleasantville changed, people were introduced to new feelings and color. They found new information, music, and art. The people were happier, they experienced new emotions, new words, a whole new world outside of Pleasantville. Even if they don't know what to do with the new found freedom, everything is so much better in color.Pleasantville is a must watch because it is a great comedy and it hit important social problems discussed above using color change theme. "There are some places ... that the road doesn't go in a circle. There are some places where the road keeps going." (Maguire). There are some movies that are forgotten in a month but there some, like Pleasantville, that make one see the world in a different light.