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Adult – Child Relationships in American Movies


The following research paper is about the relationship bond of an Adult and a child shown in American movies. The paper would explore the meaning of a relationship between an adult and a child and would emphasize its importance as well. The relationship between that particular adult and the child could be any, for example, it could be a relationship of a parent with the child, or a relationship of an adult with its relative child. It would also evaluate the various aspects of life and its meaning with respect to relationships and responsibilities and the attitude of adults towards their children.

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(Parke and Kellam 1) Relationship can be understood as a bonding or connecting attributes that binds two or more people together. Relationship combines emotional, blood, marriage, physical, friendship, family, business relationships, or society together through some means. Relationships are mostly taken as people connected in a family who are bonded to live together with love, understanding, affection, care and peace. Most of the times, relationship is taken with aspects of a family connection. A family is connected with relatives and via a bond of blood and emotions. In short, it can be described as the association between two or entities is known as a relationship. Most typical relationships in families are of parents, children, siblings, and other relatives such as aunt, uncle, grandparents, and others. Many other relationships in this world are not related to a family. These relationships are of business, sexual, friendship, corporate, customer, or commercial type. For example, relationship between buyer and seller, health and diet, parent and child, employer and employee, student and teacher, giver and taker, the customer and the company, doctor and patient, and many others (Vangelisti 1).

Relationship Bond between Children and Their Adults

(Irving and Nolo 326) The relationship between a child with its adult as a parent or a relative is the most important and trustworthy in this universe. This relationship can be regarded as the most precious and most reliable because this kind of relationship is not developed for some specific reason. Relationships between parents and relatives with their children bear no cost or has no monetary value because there is only love, affection, care and concern regarding the child and nothing else! In the current cunning and mean society, pure relationship is hard to find, but the relationship between a child with its parents or relatives can be regarded as the purest and loving bond seen.

(Hersen et al 373) Adults and relatives play the most important and crucial role for the children because children are made of what they learn from their elders. If parents and relatives show caring, humble and loving towards their children, then the children would adopt this habit and would carry this attitude for the rest of their lives. The world is changing very rapidly as time passes and thus, it differs in so many ways which could not be explained to the children, but can only be taught from their adults. Children today face a more complex and impersonal society as compared to their adults because they are not matured enough to decide what is right and what is wrong for them. This is why children adopt whatever they learn or get from their adults as parents or relatives. Parents and relatives are the ones who can teach their children, how to react in what kind of situations? What to decide in emergencies? How to become independent and self-controlled? And how to handle responsibilities. Every child is the reflection of what he or she has learned from his elders, parents and relatives and the sole bearer of his elders’ characteristics. It is the sole duty of the parents or the relatives to take care of their children, to provide them food and all the necessities, to provide them with excellent education, to protect them and to nourish them with good faith and attitude. This is what the child learns from his elders and bears it with him for the rest of his life (Roberts 161).

Adult/Child Relationship as Shown in American Movies

Movies are usually regarded as to showcase what is going on in society and reflects the real essence of everything that is happening around the world on screen so that people could know about the situation while gaining the sense of entertainment from the movies. Movies, no doubt, are the reflection of society and relationships of the society of the real world. Many directors and producers develop art or commercial movies just to portrait what is going in there minds and what is needed to be known to people and general public. In return, they get appreciation and money as their rewards. The American movie industry is one of the largest industries in the world. Every year, hundreds of movies are made for the entertainment of people and these movies are rated according to their standards and cast of the crew.

In the American cinema industry, when it comes to relationship bonding, the directors and the movie makers emphasize greatly on the value of relationship because it not only affects their movie values, but also affects the minds of the public coming to watch the movie, especially children and their relatives. Children usually adapt what they learn from their adults and relatives, this is why it is important to reflect the value of the relationship bond so that if the children are not learning it from their adults, then they could get it from the moral of the story of the movie.

As told above, there are many American movies that emphasize greatly on the relationship of an adult with his child, and some of them would be discussed in this research paper for the convenience of the readers. These movies are Shadow of a Doubt (by Hitchcock in the year 1943), Affliction (by Schrader in the year 1998), Best Boy (by Wohl in the year 1979), and Hannah and Her Sisters (by Allen in the year 1986). These movies reflect the relationship of children with their adults and portraits the value of the affection between them. They also reveals how the children were affected by the attitude of their adults and what kind of way or career they chose for themselves in the future after learning from their adults and relatives.

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Shadow of a Doubt

(Sterritt 52) The movie Shadow of a Doubt is directed by Alfred Hitchcock and it was one of Hitchcock’s favorite movies because it reflects suspense and creativity with full devotion while focusing on the relationship of an uncle with his niece. It is the story of a young girl, Charlie Newton who wanted to visit her uncle for once in a life and then her wish comes true when she gets the chance to visit him. She shares a very special bond with her uncle and totally counts on him. She feels that he is the only entity in the world to whom she can call upon at any time in life and he is the only man in the world who understands her needs fully and she is very happy to live with him. So, when life becomes dull and difficult for her to live with, she calls him to visit. However, there arrives two detectives and then a series of unusual events and clues started growing up, with which she realizes that her uncle’s behavior and attitude has also been changed accordingly. Young Charlie starts suspecting that her life is no longer safe and must find a way to save herself from trouble. The entire plot of the movie has been settled very systematically and portrays every scene and emotion very well. The relationship of uncle with his niece is lovely at times, which also reflects that there may be problems in perfect looking life and one should not be afraid from any circumstances, no matter how young is that person (Bellour and Penley 243).


(Berardinelli and Ebert 151) The movie Affliction is originally base on the novel by Russell Banks and is directed by the director Paul Schrader. It is a typical yet subtle and strong story plot that reveals the relationship of a child with his abusive father. The starring child becomes a lone policeman (Nick Nolte), whereas James Coburn plays the role of the abusive drunken father, who was always angry and brutal with his two sons in their entire childhood. The father seems to be a sick machismo who ultimately afflicts his son. As a result, when Nick grows up, he has afflicted his father’s habits, although his style is way too different from his father’s. Nick becomes subtle, with rare facial expressions seen on his face, he becomes emotionless in most of the time of his life because he has learned to control his emotions and does not react extremely in any case of life. He has never forgotten his past and the treatment from his father. As a whole, the movie is a gloomy, yet well performed from its crew and reflects how elders influence and affects the lifestyle of their relatives and children specially. Just like in the case of this movie, where father was always shown brutal that eventually made his children suffer and become emotionless in the practical life after growing old because they saw the life very differently as compared to other children of their ages.

Best Boy

(Villarruel et al 122) The movie Best Boy is directed by Ira Wohl and is an academy award winning film as well on the American screen that was released in the ending era of the year 1988. The plot of the movie revolves around the fifty-two years old mentally retarded Phillip Wohl has been abandoned by his parents because his disability. Philly is mentally retarded since the time of his birth and never lived away from his parents. Now it is about time to make him realize how to live independently. So, Ira Wohl takes lead in this documentary film and the entire family with the help of Ira helps Philly to learn things and how to survive with self-reliance. The whole story of the movie is all family confronting and portrays development of the retarded Philly from the summer camp to training center and from there, he moves ahead to an independent group. The movie Best Boy is highly tenderized movie that reflects the thinking of a retarded person and the people associated with him, and how the entire family could move ahead to react as a helping family, so that the person could learn how to live strongly and how to survive alone in the world all by himself.

Hannah and Her Sisters

(Polhemus 304) Hannah and her Sisters is a comedy-drama type movie, directed by Woody Allen in the year 1986. The plot of the movie revolves around Hannah as the main character and her sisters. Other related characters are their husbands and boyfriends. There can be seen clear confrontations and crises going on in the movie, but the movie is also a mixture of mixed feelings of love, affection, care, and concern that can be observed clearly from the director’s point of view. It reflects the close relationship bond of the three sisters and their responsibilities and the problems that could emerge living a normal life and while taking care of sisters at the same time as an elder sister. The movie is slated to be Allen’s one of the best shots because it reflects humor, sensation, emotions and other different aspects of life at the same time.

Works Cited

Shae Irving, Nolo; 2007, Nolo’s Encyclopedia of Everyday Law: Answers to Your Most Frequently Asked Legal Questions; Published by Nolo, p326.

Michel Hersen, Samuel M. Turner, Deborah C. Beidel, Inc NetLibrary; 2007; Adult Psychopathology and Diagnosis, Published by Wiley-Interscience, p373.

Dorothy E. Roberts, 2002, Shattered Bonds: The Color of Child Welfare, Published by Basic Books, p161.

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Ross D. Parke, Sheppard G. Kellam; 1994, Exploring Family Relationships with Other Social Contexts, Published by Routledge, p1.

Anita L. Vangelisti, 2004, Handbook of Family Communication, Published by Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, p1.

David Sterritt, 1993, The Films of Alfred Hitchcock, Published by Cambridge University Press, p52.

Raymond Bellour, Constance Penley; 2001, The Analysis of Film, Published by Indiana University Press, p243.

James Berardinelli, Roger Ebert; 2003, ReelViews: The Ultimate Guide to the Best 1,000 Modern Movies on DVD and Video; Published by Justin, Charles & Co., p151.

Francisco A. Villarruel, Rosemary T. Faiver, Esther Onaga, June Pierce Youatt, Christie Eppler, Sue Carter, Marsha Carolan, Robert J. Griffore, Kelly Morrison, Marjorie J. Kostelnik, LaRay Jones; 1999, Thirty-First Annual National Council on Family Relations Media Awards Competition, Family Relations, Vol 49, p 122. Web.

Robert M. Polhemus, Lot’s Daughters: Sex, Redemption, and Women’s Quest for Authority; Published by Stanford University Press, p304.

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