In Pleasantville, "The opening titles feature a series of images, suggesting that someone is 'chanel surfing' on a television. The images are out of focus, miss-framed, interspersed with static interference and cut at a rapid pace. What impression of 'modern life' do you believe the montage is intended to create on the responder?"
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The lack of a focused narrative in the film's opening is meant to illuminate the fundamental difference between the modern setting and the condition of the 1950s. The "channel surfing" of the modern setting is one in which different narratives and frames of reference are present, simultaneously chatting away. This makes the condition in the modern setting a complex reality. It is one in which "modern life" is shown to have freedom and expression, but little else in way of solidity and form. It is a stark contrast to what the 1950s offers. The world of "Pleasantville" is fundamentally "pleasant." There is a direct narrative offered, without freedom and and adherence to design and form. In this light, one can see how "Pleasantville" would prove to be initially attractive to someone like David. The modern setting is one of confusion, speed, and a lack of definition.
David's appreciation of the 1950s world of "Pleasantville" can be initially understood. However, the fact that David chooses to leave it to return back to this realm is where the initial montage that opens the film is almost validated by the end of it. The confusion and uncertainty that is present in the opening titles is something that Betty, George, and Bill all struggle with even in "Pleasantville." While they are in the 1950s, the film ends with them seeking to understand what to do and where to go, no different than the opening channel surfing montage at the film's opening. In this, the film concludes the same elements that define the modern setting help to explain the condition in which all human beings live. Choice and human freedom are fundamentally challenging elements to explain and understand.
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