The two movies “The Shawshank Redemption” by Frank Darabont and “American Graffiti” by George Lucas are a great portrayal of the time they were set in. “American Graffiti” represents the culture of young people, who felt free and liberated.
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“The Shawshank Redemption” is a glimpse into prison life, limiting freedom but not the optimistic goodness and expression of one’s self.
“American Graffiti” takes place in the sixties describing the culture and what defined it. The most obvious theme of the movie is a rebellious free life, with numerous possibilities (Schulman 2). It shows teen life in its various aspects, transferring the viewer into the past.
Another major theme of the movie is the relationship between a man and a woman, the way they meet, find, and spend time together. It is shown in an innocent nature and represents the life of those times. In the sixties and seventies, a special interest in the “hot rods” can be seen. In the movie, there is a connection between the car and its driver. Even though it is unethical but very often people are judged by the cars they drive, which is evident even today. The times shown in the movie represent a change in the cultural and social fabric, towards the betterment of life and human rights (Quart and Auster 9). As the movie is centered on teenagers and their night out, it illustrates the kind of fun activities people participated in at that time. The social norms and rules were not as strict as they are today, as it is clear that people felt more relaxed and enjoyed and savored the moments they were presented with. On a moral scale, “American Graffiti” shows the strength of friendship and what a person was willing to do to preserve it. The movie is an interesting look into the historic past, creating an atmosphere of nostalgia and freedom (American Graffiti).
“The Shawshank Redemption” is another great classic, which teaches morals and respect. It was set in a time when major changes in the treatment of a person were taking place.
The conflict between the prisoner and the warden is taken apart in detail. It gives people hope, as even in prison a person can stay true to their own principles and morals. Human kindness spreads everywhere and even such a secluded environment as prison cannot prevent it from entering. Another theme that is touched upon is how one man can change the setup of things, with enough determination and help from friends. Self-sacrifice is rewarded, becoming one of the key elements in the movie.
It reminds people of that time to be forgiving and helping others (Berkowitz 111). Friendship and the relationship is another optimistic direction seen throughout the movie. It proves that very often there are misunderstandings between people but once they get to know each other and offer a helping hand, even an enemy can become a friend. Just as many other movies of all times, “The Shawshank Redemption” reflects the views of society, promoting goodness and change for the better. Even though the movie is set in a judicial institution based on concrete law, a completely different side of justice is revealed.
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The way this prison community runs itself makes it a unique and separate part from the rest of society. It provides evidence that there are higher rules and moral codes than those set by the human society (The Shawshank Redemption).
Both these movies are a close reflection of the times and views they were set in. The common theme of friendship reminds people to value the understanding of a fellow human being. A life based on actions defined by an inner feeling of greatness and emotion is reinforced, advising people to be optimistic and kind.
American Graffiti. Ex. Prod. Gary Kurtz. California, US: Universal Pictures. 1973. Film.
Berkowitz, Edward. Something Happened: A Political and Cultural Overview of the Seventies, New York, United States: Columbia University Press, 2006. Print.
Quart, Leonard, and A. Auster. American Film and Society since 1945, Connecticut, United States: Praeger Publishers, 2002. Print.
Schulman, Bruce. The Great Shift in American Culture, Society, and Politics, New York, United States: Free Press, 2001. Print.
The Shawshank Redemption. Ex. Prod. Niki Marvin. California, US: Columbia Pictures. 1994. Film.