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"Crash" tells interlocking stories of whites, blacks, Latinos, Koreans, Iranians, cops and criminals, the rich and the poor, the powerful and powerless, all defined in one way or another by racism. All are victims of it, and all are guilty it. Sometimes, yes, they rise above it, although it is never that simple. Their negative impulses may be instinctive, their positive impulses may be dangerous, and who knows what the other person is thinking?
The result is a movie of intense fascination; we understand quickly enough who the characters are and what their lives are like, but we have no idea how they will behave, because so much depends on accident. Most movies enact rituals; we know the form and watch for variations. "Crash" is a movie with free will, and anything can happen. Because we care about the characters, the movie is uncanny in its ability to rope us in and get us involved.
"Crash" was directed by Paul Haggis , whose screenplay for " Million Dollar Baby " led to Academy Awards. It connects stories based on coincidence, serendipity, and luck, as the lives of the characters crash against one another other like pinballs. The movie presumes that most people feel prejudice and resentment against members of other groups, and observes the consequences of those feelings.
One thing that happens, again and again, is that peoples' assumptions prevent them from seeing the actual person standing before them. An Iranian ( Shaun Toub ) is thought to be an Arab, although Iranians are Persian. Both the Iranian and the white wife of the district attorney ( Sandra Bullock ) believe a Mexican-American locksmith ( Michael Pena ) is a gang member and a crook, but he is a family man.
A black cop ( Don Cheadle ) is having an affair with his Latina partner ( Jennifer Esposito ), but never gets it straight which country she's from. A cop ( Matt Dillon ) thinks a light-skinned black woman ( Thandie Newton ) is white. When a white producer tells a black TV director ( Terrence Dashon Howard ) that a black character "doesn't sound black enough," it never occurs to him that the director doesn't "sound black," either. For that matter, neither do two young black men ( Larenz Tate and Ludacris), who dress and act like college students, but have a surprise for us.
You see how it goes. Along the way, these people say exactly what they are thinking, without the filters of political correctness. The district attorney's wife is so frightened by a street encounter that she has the locks changed, then assumes the locksmith will be back with his "homies" to attack them. The white cop can't get medical care for his dying father, and accuses a black woman at his HMO with taking advantage of preferential racial treatment. The Iranian can't understand what the locksmith is trying to tell him, freaks out, and buys a gun to protect himself. The gun dealer and the Iranian get into a shouting match.
I make this sound almost like episodic TV, but Haggis writes with such directness and such a good ear for everyday speech that the characters seem real and plausible after only a few words. His cast is uniformly strong; the actors sidestep cliches and make their characters particular.
For me, the strongest performance is by Matt Dillon, as the racist cop in anguish over his father. He makes an unnecessary traffic stop when he thinks he sees the black TV director and his light-skinned wife doing something they really shouldn't be doing at the same time they're driving. True enough, but he wouldn't have stopped a black couple or a white couple. He humiliates the woman with an invasive body search, while her husband is forced to stand by powerless, because the cops have the guns -- Dillon, and also an unseasoned rookie ( Ryan Phillippe ), who hates what he's seeing but has to back up his partner.
That traffic stop shows Dillon's cop as vile and hateful. But later we see him trying to care for his sick father, and we understand why he explodes at the HMO worker (whose race is only an excuse for his anger). He victimizes others by exercising his power, and is impotent when it comes to helping his father. Then the plot turns ironically on itself, and both of the cops find themselves, in very different ways, saving the lives of the very same TV director and his wife. Is this just manipulative storytelling? It didn't feel that way to me, because it serves a deeper purpose than mere irony: Haggis is telling parables, in which the characters learn the lessons they have earned by their behavior.
Other cross-cutting Los Angeles stories come to mind, especially Lawrence Kasdan's more optimistic " Grand Canyon " and Robert Altman's more humanistic " Short Cuts ." But "Crash" finds a way of its own. It shows the way we all leap to conclusions based on race -- yes, all of us, of all races, and however fair-minded we may try to be -- and we pay a price for that. If there is hope in the story, it comes because as the characters crash into one another, they learn things, mostly about themselves. Almost all of them are still alive at the end, and are better people because of what has happened to them. Not happier, not calmer, not even wiser, but better. Then there are those few who kill or get killed; racism has tragedy built in.
Not many films have the possibility of making their audiences better people. I don't expect "Crash" to work any miracles, but I believe anyone seeing it is likely to be moved to have a little more sympathy for people not like themselves. The movie contains hurt, coldness and cruelty, but is it without hope? Not at all. Stand back and consider. All of these people, superficially so different, share the city and learn that they share similar fears and hopes. Until several hundred years ago, most people everywhere on earth never saw anybody who didn't look like them. They were not racist because, as far as they knew, there was only one race. You may have to look hard to see it, but "Crash" is a film about progress.
Roger Ebert was the film critic of the Chicago Sun-Times from 1967 until his death in 2013. In 1975, he won the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished criticism.
This Much We Know
The Disappearance of Shere Hite
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Godfrey cheshire, film credits.
Rated R for language, sexual content and some violence
Sandra Bullock as Jean
Don Cheadle as Graham
Matt Dillon as Officer Ryan
Jennifer Esposito as Ria
William Fichtner as Flanagan
Brendan Fraser as Rick
Terrence Dashon Howard as Cameron
Ludacris as Anthony
- Paul Haggis
- Robert Moresco
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Intercultural Communication: Paul Haggis’ “Crash” Essay (Movie Review)
This research paper looks at the movie Crash of the director Paul Haggis. The film was released in 2004 and received three Academy Awards in 2005. This research draws upon mostly primary sources including articles, published reviews, and the book about intercultural communication. The aim of this paper is to highlight and describe the most important issues raised in the movie in accordance with the book. The results show that the film covers and demonstrates the social contradictions of identified themes.
“Moving at the speed of life, we are bound to collide with each other” ( Crash , n.d, para. 2). This statement is the tagline of the movie called Crash. It reflects the real world where a lot of people are living nowadays, and where they bump into each other every day in streets, parks, and shops. Some of these meetings are fleeting and not significant, while others give a variety of emotions and new acquaintances. Thus, such substantial events have a considerable impact on the people’s future. In Crash , the director Paul Haggis is focused on demonstrating several short stories, united in a few car accidents, shootings, and robberies with the focus on the theme of the place of a human in the modern world and society.
The movie is made very professionally. Despite a large number of characters and storylines, the plot develops gradually and quite logically. It allows the audience to see the interconnected networks of social relationships that draw the characters together.
The film begins with the policemen who find the corpse of a black man somewhere outside the city. Further, events go back a day ago, and the viewer watches short episodes from the life of different people living in this city. These individuals and events, happening to them, are somehow related to each other and closely intertwined.
There are four main storylines. Rick Cabot (Brendan Fraser) is the District Attorney of Los Angeles, a big boss. Nevertheless, two African-American guys, threatening him with a gun, take his car. The robbery of the District Attorney is a good story for the news media, but Rick cannot afford such a scandal because the voices of black voters are very crucial to him. The African-American policeman Graham (Don Cheadle) knows about the situation of the white policeman, but he cannot help him. He has to keep silent because prosecutors threaten his brother, who got into a bad company. The police officer John Ryan (Matt Dillon) scoffs at an African-American couple in front of his young teammate Hansen (Ryan Phillippe). The Iranian gets a weapon to defend his small shop, the only thing he has. Ironically, this gun will be pointed at the same poor immigrant. Some storylines of Crash come to their logical conclusion, the other part remains unfinished (there is a clear sense in it), but at the final culmination all the same happens – the killing of a black man. This murder connects most of the characters.
Some people say that the main subject of the movie Crash is political correctness, and due to it, the film won the Academy Award for the best picture in 2005. However, this movie is not limited by political correctness issue. The plot of Crash is focused on the numerous difficulties of coexistence in a huge multinational state. The director accentuates the idea of understanding. According to Neuliep (2015), people from different nations think differently. Indeed, sometimes it is very tough for a human of one culture to accept some habits and traditions of the completely different world because people think through categories. People use categories in the process of thinking to reduce uncertainty (Neulip, 2015). It is necessary for a human to use categories to make an inference and increase the accuracy of understanding. What is more, categorization is an essential part of intercultural communication because when people meet something or someone unfamiliar, the first thing they do is trying to compare the unfamiliar subject with the familiar one. Thus, culture is connected with the theory of uncertainty. The problem of misconception is the central theme of Crash, and Paul Haggis shows the tragic consequences of such misunderstanding.
Other issues, which are raised in the movie, are political correctness and ethnocentrism, which are directly related to intercultural communication. The movie shows how people from different cultures are under pressure, and how others oppress them. Some characters in Crash tend to offend and disadvantage members of a particular group. The brightest example is attitudes and actions towards African-American individuals. Although the United States of America is a multinational country that gathers immigrants who come to the United States to get a better life, there is a decrease in tolerance and increase in distrust in American society nowadays. The majority of people do not like foreigners, and Paul Haggis shows it in his movie. The problems of intolerance and ethnocentrism are the most burning nowadays. However, governments and different media pay a lot of attention to them. For example, the video from Globe Today (2016) demonstrates how judgmental the world is today. Tolerance is one of the most important human characteristics.
Except for political correctness, uncertainty, and ethnocentrism, one more theory is used in the movie. This theory is the theory of stereotype. Though this term is a part of categorization to some extent, it is necessary to highlight. On first glance, some characters can seem negative and primitive to the viewer. For instance, on the one hand, the Iranian is a very unfavorable character, but on the other hand, he is just an unfortunate man. The locksmith with tattoos, who looks like a truly criminal, is a quiet and peaceful family man, adoring his daughter. The young police officer, who was extremely outraged by the actions of his racist partner, saves a black TV producer from certain death. However, on the same day, he kills an African-American boy for no apparent reason. These actions are examples of controversial human nature. It is important to emphasize that there is no clear concept of good and evil in the movie. The characters are not divided into two groups: innocent and guilty people, or heroes and villains. All people are ordinary with their advantages and disadvantages, strengths and weaknesses. Their behavior is a reaction to the outer world, and their actions depend on different circumstances.
To sum up, despite the annoying performance of some artists, Crash is a deep film. The film received mostly positive reviews from such influential media sources as Washington Post, Rolling Stone, USA Today, Empire, and others. The movie Crash is completely independent work, and Paul Haggis, who is better known as a screenwriter and whose screenplay for “Million Dollar Baby” led to Academy Awards, fulfills different tasks as a director, producer, and screenwriter at the same time. The plot of Crash is vital and urgent because it reflects today’s problems. The movie demonstrates social contradictions, and it contains hurt, cruelty, and anger. Haggis emphasizes that every very person is unpredictable, and no one can know what will happen tomorrow. The movie shows that there is not any clear line between good and evil. Not everything that is done by rules and laws is good, and not all people who defy the laws are criminals. However, there is always hope and faith. It can be unseen, but kindness exists within people, even behind the destructive behavior.
Crash . (n.d.). Film info. Web.
Globe Today. (2016). I am not black, you are not white. Web.
Neuliep, J. W. (2014). Intercultural communication: A contextual approach. Sage Publication.
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Home — Essay Samples — Entertainment — Crash Movie — A Review Of The 2004 Movie Crash
A Review of The 2004 Movie Crash
- Categories: Crash Movie Movie Review
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Published: Feb 8, 2022
Words: 698 | Pages: 2 | 4 min read
- IMDb. (n.d.). Crash (2004) - IMDb. Retrieved from https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0375679/
- Haggis, P. (Director). (2004). Crash [Motion picture]. United States: Lions Gate Films.
- Ebert, R. (2005, May 6). Crash Movie Review & Film Summary (2005). RogerEbert.com. Retrieved from https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/crash-2005
- Mowatt, R., & Lemieux, C. (2008). The meaning of the movie Crash and its application to real life. Journal of Religion and Film, 12(1). doi: 10.18081/2154-9787-2008-12-1
- Mazierska, E., & Rascaroli, L. (2009). Crossing New Europe: Postmodern Travel and the European Road Movie. Wallflower Press.
- Kellner, D. (2009). Cinema Wars: Hollywood Film and Politics in the Bush-Cheney Era. Wiley-Blackwell.
- Shaw, T. M. (2012). Contemporary Hollywood Cinema. Routledge.
- Naficy, H. (2012). An Accented Cinema: Exilic and Diasporic Filmmaking. Princeton University Press.
- Thompson, K., & Bordwell, D. (2013). Film History: An Introduction. McGraw-Hill Education.
- Maniquis, R. (2016). The Representation of Race and Racial Relationships in the Film Crash. In A Companion to American Indie Film (pp. 392-410). Wiley-Blackwell.
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Crash: A Movie Review
While individuals typically have inherently kind nature, they develop biases as they mature. The film “Crash” explicitly highlights discrimination and racial assumptions. Set in Los Angeles, a melting pot of diverse ethnicities, the plot revolves around multiple characters who find themselves tangled in a severe car collision.
The film takes place over the course of two days in Los Angeles and follows the intertwining stories of several characters. These characters include a police detective who must deal with his drug-addicted mother and troublemaking younger brother, two car thieves who frequently contemplate society and race, a white district attorney and his wife, a cop with racist tendencies and his partner, a successful Hollywood director and his wife, a Persian immigrant father, and a Hispanic locksmith and his daughter. As the movie unfolds, each character experiences a significant event that completely alters their outlook on life.
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In his movie, Paul Haggis demonstrates these changes not only through the actions of the characters but also through the mood tone, music, and settings. Right from the start, Paul Haggis presents the theme of the movie using the very first line. The opening scenes depict headlights and rain-covered windshields while a voice in the background utters, “In LA nobody can touch you, always hiding behind this metal and glass. I think we miss that touch so much we crash into each other just so we can feel something.” Shortly after, we observe the black police detective and his Colombian partner in their car, when a fireman approaches and inquires about their well-being.
In a multi-car collision, a Columbian woman exits her car and approaches a Chinese woman. The Chinese woman angrily yells, “Mexicans don’t know how to drive. She blake too fast.” In response, the detective retorts, “Perhaps if you could see over the steering wheel, you would blake as well.” Subsequently, the male detective also exits the car, revealing a crime scene with a single puma shoe. This initial scene, accompanied by the credits, holds significance in relation to the movie’s title and overarching theme.
Here the director introduces the theme of racism and sets the tone of the film. Through a steady face level shot, the camera follows each character, capturing their anger towards each other. The use of dark background colors and intense music in the background enhances the overall mood. The sequence of scenes in this movie holds great significance as it showcases the individual stories of each character and demonstrates how they intersect and ultimately lead to a resolution. Paul Haggis maintains a consistent approach in presenting each scene.
The dull, plain colors used in each scene draw attention to the characters’ colors. The movie maintains a consistently sad and depressing musical tone, which increases in intensity with each event in the scene. The scenes transition abruptly from one to another, creating a collision of all the scenes. This symbolism reflects the theme of the movie. All scenes are set in the same way, emphasizing the similarities between the characters’ lives and highlighting their convergence. Following the opening murder scene and credits, the story immediately returns to a scene taking place two days prior.
A Persian man, speaking his native language, enters a gun store and takes his time. The shopkeeper rudely tells him to come back later to plan his attack and even calls him Osama. The man becomes angry and starts yelling back in English. The shopkeeper orders him to leave. The man’s daughter, who is with him, pleads with the shopkeeper to just sell her the gun and bullets so they can leave. When asked what kind of bullets she wants, she requests the ones in the red box, although the specific type is not disclosed. Meanwhile, Anthony and Peter are leaving a restaurant and strolling down the illuminated street adorned with bright white Christmas lights and white buildings.
Anthony expresses his dissatisfaction with the restaurant’s service and questions the number of coffee cups they received. Peter clarifies that Anthony doesn’t drink coffee and Peter himself didn’t want any. Anthony highlights that the waitress served multiple cups to every white person nearby but didn’t offer any to them, two black men. Peter mentions that their waitress was also black. Anthony argues that being black doesn’t mean she doesn’t perpetuate stereotypes and suggests that she didn’t serve them because she assumed they wouldn’t tip well.
Peter asks, “How much did you tip her?” Anthony argues that he shouldn’t have to tip with that kind of service, which perpetuates discrimination. If she refuses to serve him, he won’t tip her, reinforcing her assumption. This creates a never-ending cycle. As they walk on the street, a white couple (the Los Angeles District Attorney and his wife) pass by. When the woman sees the two black men, she instinctively clings to her husband’s arm.
By pulling out their firearms and approaching the couple, they proceed to rob them of their SUV at gunpoint, thereby confirming the woman’s assumption. Haggis creatively portrays this scene by focusing solely on the characters’ faces, allowing their emotions to be expressed through their expressions. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles District Attorney’s wife becomes increasingly distressed as she discovers that a Mexican locksmith with perceived criminal affiliations and tattoos is currently changing their locks. Worried about the potential consequences, she demands that her husband arrange for the locks to be changed once again in the morning, fearing that the locksmith might sell their keys to his associates.
As she enters the all-white kitchen, she finds the locksmith replacing the lock. He stands up and places all the keys on the counter in front of her silently before leaving. A new character, a white man, is then introduced in the movie. He is engaged in a phone conversation with a woman, seeking healthcare for his ill father but facing disappointment. Upon learning that the woman’s name is Shanekwa, he responds with a racist comment, saying “Go figure.” Subsequently, the audience witnesses this man driving at night with his younger white partner while wearing his police uniform.
The two officers respond to a report regarding a stolen black Navigator involving two black males. At that moment, a Navigator, occupied by a black male and a woman, drives by. The older officer initiates a maneuver to stop the vehicle, but the younger officer intervenes, informing him that it is not the correct one and that neither the suspects nor the license plates match. In response, the older officer insists that “they were doing something.” Consequently, he instructs both the husband and wife to exit the car. While conducting a search, he thoroughly invades the woman’s privacy by inserting his hand under her dress, thus committing a sexual violation, while the young officer barely searches the husband.
The paragraph begins by describing the officer’s explanation that he could have the couple arrested for public sexual activity, stating that this was the reason they were pulled over. The husband apologizes for their actions and instead of arresting them, the officer gives them a warning, portraying himself as a benevolent figure. Throughout the entire scene, the camera maintains eye-level shots of each character, highlighting their respective reactions to the situation. The scene concludes with a depiction of the younger officer’s disgusted and scared expression, accompanied by an image dominated by dark colors and the sound of police sirens. Meanwhile, a little girl is shown hiding under her bed. Subsequently, a locksmith enters and inquires about what she is doing.
She tells him about hearing a loud noise, and he questions if she is scared of the bullet that previously came through her window. He proceeds to share a tale of receiving a magical cape from a fairy, originally intended for his daughter’s protection. According to him, the cape has the power to shield her from harm caused by guns or knives. Encouraged by this story, she emerges from hiding under the bed and settles on top of it. At this point, the scene transitions to an all-white backdrop, symbolizing her innocence and unbiased mindset. Anthony and Peter continue their drive in the stolen navigator, engaging in a conversation about oppression and the way white individuals oppress black individuals.
Anthony runs over a person of Chinese descent with the stolen vehicle and they become trapped underneath. Anthony suggests to Peter that they should continue driving and the person will eventually free themselves. However, Peter convinces Anthony that if the person could have freed themselves, they would have already done so. Eventually, Peter wins the argument and they rescue the person from underneath the SUV. They kindly place them on the soft concrete in front of the hospital emergency bay. Meanwhile, the Persian individual is attending to his store while the Mexican locksmith repairs his lock. After finishing the repair, the locksmith informs him that the lock has been fixed but the door is now broken.
The Persian accuses the locksmith of being a cheat, shouting at him and calling him names in the belief that he is trying to take advantage of him and extort more money. Instead of engaging in a confrontation, the locksmith advises him not to pay and leaves. The following day, the Persian visits his shop only to discover that it has been burglarized and all the merchandise destroyed. The walls are covered in the word “RAG”. As Anthony and Peter travel to Anthony’s actual car, Peter greets a friend he knows from the nearby area. Anthony disapproves of Peter’s choice of companions, muttering, “This man steals from elderly women’s purses.”
Peter challenges Anthony to explain how their actions are any different, stating, “That nigger would steal teeth from a cripple, man.” Anthony justifies the difference by claiming that he does not steal from his own people. Meanwhile, Cameron’s wife visits him on set during his lunch break. She apologizes for yelling at him and acknowledges that he did the right thing in the previous incident. However, she confesses that she couldn’t bear to witness the police “take away his dignity.” Not pleased with her statement, Cameron tells her to go home and walks away. This interaction is visually depicted by Haggis through an up top shot that emphasizes their distance. The scene then transitions to a low camera angle, revealing the extent of damage and destruction in the Persian’s store. An insurance agent arrives and explains that the insurance policy won’t cover the damages because the locksmith’s advice regarding the door was not followed. While cleaning up the store, the Persian recalls throwing out the receipt in the trash and decides to retrieve it in order to find the locksmith.
In this scene, the movie reaches its climax as the characters reach their breaking points. Cameron’s wife, after a fight with him, is driving back home and gets into a car crash. The older white officer, accompanied by his new partner, is on patrol and witnesses the accident. He rushes towards the car and instructs the lady to hold on, assuring her that he will provide assistance. However, as she looks at him, she realizes that he is the same officer from the previous night and starts screaming at him, adamantly refusing his touch. Desperately, she cries out for help from anyone nearby. In this moment, the officer realizes the profound impact his previous actions have had on her.
Despite her preference to suffer rather than accept his assistance, he warns her that she will perish if he does not intervene. While undoing her seatbelt, he inadvertently pulls down her dress, clarifying that his intentions are not inappropriate. Meanwhile, the other vehicle catches fire, prompting fellow officers to forcibly remove him from the car as Cameron’s wife remains trapped inside. Managing to escape from them, he courageously returns to the car in order to rescue her. This pivotal moment serves as the climax of the film, as both characters, who initially displayed distinct animosity towards one another, triumph over their differences.
Their lives are brought together through a car crash, and she relies on him for help. The audience observes the development and transformation of the characters as their stories begin to intertwine. Anthony and Peter come across a new Navigator and approach the vehicle with the intention of hijacking it, only to discover that their target, Cameron, is black. Despite this, Anthony shows no hesitation as he tries to forcibly extract Cameron from his vehicle, once again bending his own rules to suit his own agenda. Cameron, who has been under immense pressure, chooses to fight back.
While Anthony and the other man engage in a physical altercation, Peter manages to escape when the police arrive. Desperate to flee, Anthony and the other man rush for the driver’s seat of a nearby car. The other man prevails, leaving Anthony no choice but to settle for the passenger seat. Amidst their heated exchange and frantically searching for a suitable place to pull over, three police vehicles await behind them. It is in this moment that Anthony’s true character is exposed. Throughout the film, he boasts boldly but when confronted with action, he timidly cowers behind the passenger seat.
Anthony lacks the bravery to take action and relies on someone else to confront the police officers. As he observes this courageous act and sees how the man bravely stands up for his beliefs, Anthony realizes that he is not capable of such behavior. This realization diminishes his strength and finally silences him. He remains quiet as the other man drives him away and dismisses him, but not before expressing his disgust by stating, “You embarrass me… You embarrass yourself.” Until now, Anthony has been a source of shame for his community—an inaccurate representation.
In this passage, Anthony has an epiphany about how stereotypes are shaped by individuals like him. He realizes that his behavior has the potential to influence how people perceive not only himself but others who may be grouped with him. Later, the Persian character drives to the residence of a Mexican locksmith and waits for him to return from work. Approaching the man with a firearm, he demands money. As this unfolds, the locksmith’s daughter witnesses the threat and remarks that her father does not possess any protective item. She rushes out to aid her father just as the gunman pulls the trigger.
The Persian’s daughter had earlier placed blanks in the gun, protecting the girl from harm. After stepping back, the Persian came to the realization that he could have caused harm similar to what just occurred. As a result, he chooses to discard the gun. Meanwhile, Peter is attempting to hitchhike when he is picked up by a young white detective. While they are driving, Peter notices the St. Christopher statue on his dashboard and starts laughing. The officer misunderstands and believes Peter is laughing at him, prompting him to pull over and instruct Peter to exit the vehicle. In response, Peter reaches into his pocket to show the officer that he also possesses the same statue, but unfortunately, the officer shoots him in that moment.
This particular scene depicts the moment when his breaking point is reached and when his life and choices collide with the actions and beliefs of others. He disposes of Peter’s body in the valley and sets his car ablaze. Anthony then notices a white van parked by the side of the street, conveniently with the keys in the ignition. He seizes the opportunity and drives the van to his employer, only to be taken aback by its contents. In the back of the van, there are approximately twenty Asian slaves, confined and shackled. His employer proposes a deal to Anthony, offering $500 for each slave, with intentions to sell them for profit.
The new Anthony exemplifies moral behavior by releasing others from captivity. This act of compassion signifies a significant transformation from the man who previously contemplated abandoning a man to his fate on the street. Instead, he now willingly sacrifices a substantial sum of money to secure freedom for his fellow human beings. The film concludes by returning to the opening scene, where we once again witness the black detective kneeling beside his brother, Peter’s shoe. The scene then transitions to the same image of headlights and rain, followed by another car accident. In this event, the healthcare insurance representative, who initially faced discrimination, emerges from the car and reprimands the Mexican individual for not speaking English. Consequently, the cycle of discrimination persists. Haggis effectively employs distinct depictions and individualized narratives for each character, enabling viewers to grasp their unique perspectives and comprehend the impact of their circumstances. This is achieved through consistent scene arrangements, lighting, scene transitions, and music, which consistently direct audience attention towards the characters and their actions.
In the film “Crash,” directed by Paul Haggis and starring Sandra Bullock, Don Cheadle, Matt Dillon, Jennifer Esposito, William Fischtner, Brendan Fraser, Terrence Howard, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Thandie Newton, Ryan Phillippe, Larenz Tate, and Micheal Pena, the theme of prejudice and anger is portrayed through each story. The characters in the movie experience confrontations with prejudice and anger and eventually learn that they must peacefully interact and coexist with one another in order to move forward with their lives.
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The film takes place in Los Angeles, where eight different stories are developed over a two-day period. There is the story of a Persian immigrant, who struggles to protect his small shop from burglars; an African-American Hollywood director and his wife, who have to put up with sexual harassment by a racist policeman; a district attorney and his wife, who are carjacked by two African-American teenagers; a poor Hispanic locksmith, who lives in an unsafe neighborhood and returns home to find his small daughter hiding under the bed because of the gunshots outside, as well as some other interrelated stories.
The plot of the film is rather unusual since it revolves around various characters that seem to be unrelated to each other in any way. However, this impression slowly dissipates in the second part of the film, when viewers begin to link all the stories with each other and see the full picture behind them. There is one general topic that all the stories have in common—social and racial tensions in Los Angeles, while there are also several subtopics that are revealed in each particular story in the film: violence, immigration, deprivation, social inequality, ethnic stereotypes, anger, criminal situations, racism, and other related issues.
It is worth noting that, for most of the film, the viewer is kept in suspense and strained as the characters communicate with each other with trepidation, and at times even aggression and direct violence. The actors have successfully managed to depict their characters’ inner conflicts and struggles with their personal beliefs, as well as, social stigmas. By the end of the film, it is hard to classify any character as explicitly bad, even though there has been a lot of racism and anger expressed by some of the characters. The reason for that is because the storyline puts the characters in the kind of situations where they have to decide whether they dare to trust their intuition, in spite of some stereotypes and fears they consciously or unconsciously have, and risk their lives believing in the innate goodness of people.
For example, I was particularly struck by the story of a young police officer, played by Ryan Phillippe, who first comes across as a positive character, disgusted by the racist beliefs of his older companion. On his way home from work, the officer picks up a hitchhiker, and they start a friendly conversation, albeit with a hint of tension. However, the officer is far from being free of prejudice himself and when put into a particularly stressful situation and suspecting the African-American teenager to be a gang member and a threat to his life, this officer, unwilling to bear the risk, shoots the young man only because the latter could have presented a danger to him. The young man, in fact, was harmless in that situation and did not present any threat to the officer whatsoever. The bitter irony of the whole situation is that later, ashamed by his own cowardly and indecent act, the officer does an even more terrible deed—he dumps the body of the poor teen into a roadside ditch and drives away.
What I found particularly effective about Crash is the element of ambiguity in every character in the film, even the racist and cruel older police officer played by Matt Dillon, who courageously saves the life of the woman he humiliated the night before. At the end of the film, viewers are left in a kind of troubled reverie. Some curious viewers may even attempt to psychoanalyze the characters on a more personal level, projecting some situations from the film on their own lives and asking themselves whether they would have acted differently, and whether they are free from these obsolete and primitive stereotypes, so firmly rooted in the characters’ subconsciousness.
Even though some viewers might find it hard at first to quickly switch from one story to the other, such an approach to storytelling in my opinion is completely justified. The director obviously did a great job combining the stories in a natural and realistic manner. By the end of the film, when the stories are linked together, the viewer is able to evaluate and review them individually, and the whole social situation in general, from a more integrated perspective. With the powerful and gutsy performance of the celebrity cast, strong and moving life stories and the whole atmosphere of sharp, cruel yet captivating dramatic twists in every story portrayed, Crash is brilliant in its profound realism and pervasive depth.
The film has received generally positive reviews and was a box office success. It was nominated for six Academy awards in 2006 and won three of them: for best picture, best editing, and best original screenplay. The film currently has a score of 76% positive reviews on the website Rotten Tomatoes and 8.0 on IMDb (Internet Movie Database).
Crash is definitely a movie worth seeing, especially because it is essential to be aware of and acknowledge those social issues that are the focus of the film. Even though it is quite possible that some viewers might not agree with the director’s view on the modern-day American big-city social and cultural peculiarities, I am rather positive that any audience of twenty-five years and up will find some of the portrayed scenarios to be topical problems of today’s America. The least this movie can do is give some food for thought and some reasons to take an extrinsic look at our own stereotypes and inflexible beliefs, and possibly reconsider them, like some characters in the movie did.
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Crash (2004), Movie Review Example
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The 2004 film, Crash , generated as much controversy as it did popular acclaim and box office success. The latter element may have been enhanced by the title itself, seeming to promise audiences an explosive, action film. The movie does not, moreover, shy away from action and the extreme tension created in violent, urban confrontations. Nonetheless, the greater reality is that Crash is about disconnection, and not collisions. As Detective Waters speculates early in the movie, contemplating the Los Angeles arena: “We crash into each other just so we can feel something” ( Crash , 2004). His remark reveals the essence of the movie, and suggests as well the reality creating the confused and often violent landscape. The violence is a symptom, rather than an issue of its own. Ultimately, what Crash seeks to present is that an urban failure of genuine communication is unnatural, and must lead to extremes of conflict.
One scene in particular powerfully illustrates how the inability of people to comprehend one another, and even in the most pragmatic ways, can generate explosive results. David Ruiz has failed to convey to Farhad, the Persian store owner, that changing his shop’s lock will not secure the place. The confusion between the two men exists through language barriers, but not entirely; the language problems are fueled by growing impatience stemming from them, and stifling further efforts in the process. What ensues is that Farhad, finding his shop robbed and destroyed, believes Ruiz to be responsible. He tracks him down, nervously threatens him with a gun, and shoots Ruiz young daughter accidentally. Farhad’s daughter, however, has placed blanks in the weapon, so the girl is unharmed. The scene tends to captivate viewers because of the strong irony, and the almost fatalistic saving of the girl, promised the night before by her father that a magical cloak would always protect her from guns. This view, while understandable, ignores the real thrust of the scene. It is a moment of great tension and potential violence, but nothing is actually malevolent. Farhad is terrified himself, even as he wields the gun, as Ruiz has no idea of the meaning behind this action. The scene’s resolution is touching, but what matters is that a series of disconnections has simply erupted into a possible nightmare. More importantly, as Ruiz takes his daughter away, there is still no seeking of communication by either man.
Certain critics have expressed that Crash is actually focused on the inevitable conflicts of multiple ethnic groups crowded into an urban arena, and the movie certainly provides a wide canvas of races in its characters. A scene in which white police officers stop a car with two black drivers, strongly hinting at extreme violence to come, is pointed to as exemplifying this racial agenda of the film. Again, however, the real core of the scene is missed in such a view. To begin with, as racially contrasted as the two sides in the scene are, there is no direct racial reference made by anyone. Then, and supporting Waters’s theory that the city generates an actual desire for extreme conflict, both black suspect and white officers seem to embrace the opportunity to create violence from this encounter. They actually want a “crash,” which would mean a connection. What defies this is something of an epiphany in an instantaneous reaction from the rookie officer, Hansen, who defies the older officers and stands between them and the suspect. He desperately seeks to negotiate a peaceful resolution, and he can do this only by consistently insisting on communicating himself, even as both parties resist his efforts. More tellingly, the older officer asserts that the black suspect must be a relative of Hansen, for the boy to so intervene, and this weakens any idea that racial hatred is the scene’s motivating force.
Even a “non-violent” confrontation between a film director and his assistant reveals the same layers of ostensible racial conflict over a far more significant issue. A director feels that a black actor speaks too “white,” and the black assistant clearly finds this assessment both offensive and irrational. On the surface, then, this is a “crash” based on racial bias and reaction to it, but more important is that the exchange reveals an utter lack of communication between the men at a level beyond the social or professional. Here, Crash insists that even topical connections, as occurring all the time in an urban landscape, cannot take the place of genuine human intercourse. If race is the subject, any other may serve as well because the problem is not bias, but a profound lack of familiarity. Here, as elsewhere, Crash is not the treatment of inevitable violence created by urban, ethnic conflicts is may seem to be. Rather, it presents is that any failure of genuine communication between people sharing an environment is unnatural, and will lead to extremes of conflict.
Haggis, Paul (Director). (2004). Crash (Motion Picture). United States: Lions Gate Films.
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