Categories
Psychology

I am by Tom Shadyac

Abstract

The discussion that follows aims to define the psychological value behind the presentation of the message in the film I am by Tom Shadyac. This presentation aims to put an analytical value on how the movie in itself creates a correlative connection between the ideals of satisfaction, contentment and happiness in relation to human living and individual achievements.

Categories
Family and Consumer Science

“This Boy’s Life”: Review and Analysis

The film “This Boy’s Life” recounts the biographical story of author Tobias Wolff, who wrote the book on which the movie was based. The book, like the film, offers a look at several years in the life of Wolff during his teenage years. Wolff’s mother, who seemed to bounce from one abusive relationship to another, is portrayed in the film as a victim, but also as a woman who demonstrates a fair amount of independence and self-reliance, both traits that were somewhat unusual in the average woman in the 1950s. Wolff’s story has a happy ending, and his portrayal of the manner in which he and his mother eventually overcame the abuse heaped upon them by Wolff’s stepfather is certainly heartwarming in the classic sense of a Hollywood film (Russell, 2009). The performances in “This Boy’s Life” by Leonardo DiCaprio as young Toby, Ellen Barkin as Toby’s mother, and Robert DeNiro as the abusive stepfather are all solid and believable, and the film does a competent job of demonstrating how “normal” child abuse can sometimes seem.  At the same time, however, the film falls a bit short in portraying just how damaging child abuse can be for its victims over the course of a lifetime. Tobias Wolff may have really surmounted the challenges of his childhood in the manner shown in the film, but the reality for many victims of child abuse is that the damage can last a lifetime, leading to serious and significant problems for adult survivors.

Categories
Communication Strategies

Interpersonal Communication in “The Pursuit of Happyness”

            “The Pursuit of Happyness” is a touching film about a man who overcomes great odds to going from being a salesman of bone density scanners to become  an stock broker.  Various means of interpersonal communication are shown throughout this movie: they underline Chris’s relationship with himself, with his wife, and with their son. 

INTERPERSONAL COMMUNICATION: CHRIS’S RELATIONSHIP WITH HIMSELF

            The voice-over gives the viewer an insight into Chris’s character and his self concept – or the way that he sees himself – from the beginning of the movie: he says that he did not know his father until he himself was an adult, and wanted his own son to know him. It is clear that Chris’s view of himself relies heavily on his role as a father.  More is revealed about Chris’s relationship with himself through the Rubik’s cube: this is a symbol, a thing which represents something else in the story, and it symbolizes Chris’s struggle to overcome the odds and to make his life better.  Chris’s field of experience – or the person’s background which affects how that person sees the world – is also part of this struggle, and it is well-demonstrated in the movie when he talks about the lines on the resume for education, saying “I didn’t need that many lines”.  This is also shown in the way in which Chris learns to navigate his way through the culture of wealthy and largely white stockbrokers: the scene at the house of the CEO and Chris’s conversation there shows the intercultural communication, for the ways in which people of different groups communication with one another. At the end of the movie, the cost of his struggle is shown in his face in the scene where he is given the job: it is obvious that he is trying hard not to break down and cry in front of his bosses, following a rule of display, or a rule which says how much emotion it is acceptable to show in public. 

Indirect show of Chris’s Struggle.  Chris’s struggle is also shown through the means of power distance, or the distance between those who have power and those who do not in a given society: this is shown when Chris is watching the stock brokers coming down the steps, wanting to be part of that world.   It is also shown through the communication channel –  or the means by which communication is performed, such as the radio or television – of the telephone which Chris is tied to during his internship as he tries to get ahead; it is also shown by the communication setting – or the place in which communication takes place – for his talk with the stockbroker at the beginning of the movie on the steps of the stock exchange:  this is what changes his life and leads him to become a stockbroker.

BREAK-DOWN IN COMMUNICATION: CHRIS’S RELATIONSHIP WITH HIS WIFE

            Interpersonal communication also shows the viewer the breakdown in the marriage between Chris and his wife Linda.  One way in which they do this is through nonverbal communication, or ways of communicating that do not involved direct words: the scene where he and his wife are in bed together, and he pulls away when she tries to touch him, then she rolls over and yanks the blankets onto her side, is a great way of showing the breakdown in their relationship. It is also shown through feedback, or the response that one person gives another while they are communicating: his wife’s unbelieving and angry response to his suggestion that he go and apply to be a stockbroker is a good example of feedback.  His relationship with his wife is a complementary relationship – that is, it is a relationship where one person reacts to what the other person is doing and their differences are highlighted: this is shown in the scene where Chris follows Linda angrily down the street, and they get into a shouting match about their son and her leaving them.  This relationship is also shown through sending and receiving of messages to each other: in another words, of the things Chris says to Linda and the things she says in return.  On the balcony, Chris is trying to send a message to Linda that things are going to be all right, but Linda receives the message angrily and does not believe  him.  This scene is a good example, too, of over-attribution : or the placing of too much importance on one part of who someone is: Linda seems to be blaming all their problems on Chris as he struggles to be a provider.  This also shows the communication barrier – anything which prevents one party from sending a  message to another – which is the feelings of anger they have for one another and which prevent them from really talking to each other.

Indirect Show of the Conflict between Linda and Chris.  The movie does not only show the breakdown in the marriage between Linda and Chris directly. It also shows it indirectly.  One example of this is the scene in the liquor store, where Chris is frantically seek information about his wife who has just left him and his neighbor is babbling on about the game.  This is an example of noise, or anything in the outside environment that distracts from communication. .

THE TIE THAT BINDS: CHRIS’S RELATIONSHIP WITH HIS SON

            The strongest and healthiest relationship in this movie is Chris’s relationship with his son Christopher, and this is shown through many methods of interpersonal communication throughout the course of this movie.  Their discussion about the connotation – or the exact meaning – of words is shown wonderfully in his discussion with Christopher on the difference between “probably” and “possibly” when they are talking about going to the gain; this is in contrast to the discussion on the “f-word” in the beginning of the movie: Chris gives his son the connotative meaning – or the emotional importance of the word; he tells Christopher that it is an “adult word” and is “shows anger”.  The encoding – or the process of putting ideas into a message – and decoding —the process of taking in the message and trying to understand it – are shown in the scene at the basketball court, where Chris tells his son not to believe people when they tell him he can’t do something, and Christopher takes this message in.  This scene is also a good example of enculturation, or the way that one generation passes on its beliefs to another generation, and, too, of active listening: Chris really seems to be taking in what his father has told him.

Displays of Affection between Chris and his Son. Throughout the movie, even when they are  frustrated or angry at each other, there is an affection between father and son, an other-orientation, or a state in which one person is very attuned to and attentive to the other.  This is best shown in the scene in the church where Chris takes his son’s hand and kisses it.  This is also underscored in their relationship dimension – which is communication that speaks of the relationship between the two people communicating and not on any outside factor.  A scene to demonstrate this is where Chris scoops up his son in daycare and holds him as the movie ends.  It also demonstrates affirmation, or a show of support, even if non-verbally.  

CONCLUSION

            Throughout this movie, interpersonal communication is evident in the ways the characters interact with each other and with themselves.  Together, these various methods of communication show us Chris’s relationships with himself,  his wife, and his son.  It is primarily these relationships which drive the movie.

Categories
History

Four Documentaries on Middle East Political History

The 50 Years War: Israel and the Arabs (1998)

            The PBS produced documentary,The 50 Years War: Israel and the Arabs (1998) is a five hour series that examines the volitile historical conditions and events that have surrounded the nation of Israel since its founding in the years after World War Two. The film was directed by David Ash and runs for 300 minutes. One of the most crucial issues about the film as with any film dealing with the same subject matter is whether or not there is any kind of propogandistic side to the movie. And, if there is a propoganidistic side to the film, does it favor the Israeli or Arab side of the conflict. The first quality of the fiom that refveals itself is that the filmmakers have definitely atttempted to present a balanced and historical account of events without taking a particular side.  That said, it is still possible for an observer with a particular perspective to see the fim as biased in either direction. This is, in fact, one of the msot intersting aspects of a documentary of thiws nature: that it is virually impopssible to rpesent an entirely objective statement of historical facts.

            Also interesting is the film’s use of a non-linear type of perspective to show the linear progression of events. The documentary is comprised of interrviews with elading figures of the Arab and Israeli conflict, including Benjamin Netanyahu, Hafez al-Assad, Bill clinton, and Yasir Arafat among many others. This lends an air of comprehensiveness to the filma nd also helps to bring out a feeling proportion and balance. The documentary attempts to show not only all of the various “sides” of the conflict, but also the various levels that exists within these sides. So, for example, while the film includes interviews with notable heads of states such as those mentioned above, it also includes interviews with leaders of guerillafactions, field officers in the armies, and intelligence agents. The conflict between the Israelis and Arabs is therefore given as much of a human face as is possible by showing the various roles that were played throughout different stratas of society.

            In terms of the linear history that is conveyed in the film, the documentary begins with the U.N sanctioned partitioning of palestine in 1947 and continued through the war for Israeli statehood which was achieved in 1967. From there, the film recounts the evolution and growing influence of the Palestine Liberastion Organization. The final episodes of the documentary include an account of the Yom Kipper War, the Palestinian uprising in the 1980’s and accounts of teh various ttampts at peace agreemetns including the Camp David agreement and the Oslo Agreement. Due to the fact that the documentary examines both the violent warfare and intricate diplomacy that have been associated with the Arab-Israeli conflict ove rthe past decades, it is an accurate statement to say that the film is objective in its vision of the conflict’s range and impact. in other words, the film in no way elevates the aremed conflict about tye diplomatic and political struggle or vice-versa. Instead, the film attempts to show how violent conflict, political struggle, diplomacy and economics are intrivately entwined over the fifty year struggle between the Arab and Israeli states.

            From a technical standpoint, the fim’s comprehensive approach is effective but slightly overwhelming. As mentioned previously, the desire to repsent the subject in an objective way seems to have been one of the guiding principles of the film’s composition. For example, when the film shows an account of Arab armies overrunning the Israeli borders during the early years of israel’s sovereignty, the story is presented, in part, by Yitzhak Navon, who is a former Israeli President. during this segment, the narrator of the documentary mentions that many Jewish civilians were killed by Arab soldiers. In other words, the film seems to be deliberately attempting to show a sympathetic view toward the Israelis while simultaneously casting a negative light on the Arabs. Whether or not such a segment in the film is simply a consequence of the wide-scope of the film or whether it reflects a desire to slant the documentary toward a certain perspective is debatable. Either way, this segment shows the technical difficulty of dealing with the long Israeli-Arab conflict in a film.

            Similarly, a person who was looking at the documentary to find signs of bias toward the Arab side of the conflict might cite the film’s portrayal of the growth and activities of the PLO. For example, the documentary downplays the role of the PLO as a pseudo-state particularly in regard to the PLO’s role in Lebanon during the 1970’s. The documentary includes accounts of the PLO’s bombings of Israeli civilians but seems to avoid portraying the group as a terrorist organization. The overall impact of these two aspects of the coverage of the PLO is to “soften” the PLO’s historical impact and its influence over both military and political conditions in the Middle East. That said, the documentary actually functions as an objective record of the many of the most significant events and players in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Obviously, since the appearance of bias in the film can be argued form either the Arab or Israeli perspective, the apparent biases in the film are due more to the massive scope and breadth of the historical material and data than to the intentions of the filmmakers to create propaganda.   

            For this reason it seems obvious that the film is an outstanding resource for teachers, students, historians and  anyone else who is interested in learning about the Fifty Years War. The film is applicable to any perspective on the conflict, whether intended to emphasize the political or military side of the events. The sheer scope of the film and its attention to historical detail and diverse voices is enough to ensure that its is a worthwhile viewing experience. However, as mentioned previously, the length and scope of the film may prove to be an obstacle to some viewers. There is no way to further streamline the material, obviously, without losing the degree of objectivity and historical completeness that are part of the film’s power and appeal.  Due to this fact, it would seem as though the film should be rated quite highly as a record of the diplomatic and political history of events.

            The shortcoming of the film, in my opinion, is that it reveals next to nothing about the social and cultural context of the conflict. There are no real stories of regular citizens and the way that the conflict has shaped and impacted their lives, furthermore, there is not enough cultural history and evidence offered to clearly define the reason for the continued conflict between the Arab and Israeli  people. That is not to say that the film fails to provide a historical context and even motivation for the conflict, simply that the conflict is not illustrated with cultural and social materials. Even though this is the case, the film is still highly commendable for its bringing together so much archival footage and evidence to place the events of the conflict in logical context. The subject matter is deeply complex and the film is energetically comprehensive which is a very good combination.

Documentary – Promises (2001)

            The film Promises (2001) was directed by B.Z. Goldberg and examines the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by interviewing a handful of children from both sides. Goldberg, who also appears in the film, is careful to construct a film that allows the innate emoitnal impact of the children to shine through. The obvious tension in the film is between the innocence of the children and the gravity of poltical, social, and military tension that is part of the world around them. Obviously, the native innocence of the chidren is contrasted against the violence and complex world of adults in order to show the essential superiority of the world of innocence. The film seems to be suggesting that, if children on either side of the conflict can learn to play together and understand one another, then their example should lead the way for the rest of humanity. Although the film focuses on only seven children, the inference given by the film is that these children represent the larger population, or venthe universal experience of all individuals who grow up in a war-zone.

             Many viewers might find the premise of the film sightly disturbing because it is such an immediate emotional topic. However, this is precisely the intention of the filmmaker. The use of children to both catch the ineterest of the audience and to gain audience sympathy is a device that is an essential part of the film. This is because what Goldberg is actually trying to do in the film is to get each viewer of the film to get in touch with thier own innocent satte of their own vision of child-like hope and accepatnce. This is an overtly romantic notion and one which seems deliberately intended to try to counterbalance some of the  long-term cynicism that has been associated with the conflict and with numerous attempts to resolve the conflict on peaceful terms. The presence of the  children in the film brings to immediate attention the question of the future and also brings into sharp focus the most devestating cost of the conflict which is beyond merely material loss, and extends to the loss of innocence and childhood potential on both sides of the conflict. Rather than probe into the abstract poltical and culutural motivations for the long-term conflict, the film hones in on the specific, personal experiences of the children and their familes. This enables the viewer to see that the larger conflict in the story is actually comprised of individual emotional and familial responses to real-world events, rather than abstract religion or ideology.

            As such, the film is best understood as an emotional plea for understanding the human toll of the conflict. In fact, the film seems to wilfully dismiss the underlying political and ideological aspects of the conflict as if to suggest that these ideas have become so complex and difficult that a resolution through those lines is unlikely. What is a potneital resolution to the conflict is to stoop the process of passing the violence and conflict along from one generatiion to the next. This is shown in the film basically by portraying the children as the heart of each scoiety. therefore their innocence whihc is already being chipped away even at such a youong age, rpersents the loss on both sides of the conflict, and bvy expotension to evryone who is involved at any level at all.

            The film shows a definite arc from portraying the childlike perspective of the kids in the film to a “contaminated” vision that is shown to be broiling in each of the kids. For example, one of the Jewish boys shown in the film remarks that the settlement that he lives in is one where people hate Arabs. The boy, whose name is Moishe, rides his bike in a Palestinian neighborhood as though he is defying their independence. This sense of detachment and even defiance is shown even more clearly when the boy says that he hopes the Israeli military’s firing range outside of the village will have a “bad” shot which accidentally hits an Arab.

            A similar effect is created by a scene on the Palestinian side of the story when a grandmother and her grandson visit the destroyed house of their family. The house was turned into rubble by the  Israeli army in 1949. As the grandmother shows the child the paperwork and keys that go to the house, the boy insists that he will see it rebuilt someday along with the entire village. What this scene shows is that the sense of struggle that is felt on both sides of the conflict is personal rather than merely ideological. This approach to showing the conflict must be seen as the most humanistic perspective that could be brought to view the conflict. As such, Goldberg also escapes any charge of sentimentality despite his use of children as a subject for the film because scenes such as the two described above show how sentimentality and “group-think” are actually associated with one another in the context of the conflict.

            It is, in fact, the combination of sentimentality and conformity that actually give continuing fuel to the fire of the conflict. The film can be seen as being made-up of three sections. The first section is the introduction of the children and the basic circumstances. The second section is the exploration of how the historical events are based in deeply personal experiences as shown by the immersion of the children in the more weighty issues of the conflict. The third segment of the film is one where Goldberg begins to appear more frequently in front of the camera. He also begins to voice his ideas about what might be the result of trying to bring children from opposite sides of the conflict together.  This potential underscores the basic theme of the film which is the way in which the innocence of the past and present are being sacrificed right along with the hope for the future in order to keep the conflict and escalation of violence in full  motion.

            In some regards the film is also an attempt to put a dent in the viewer’s own sense of innocence because it is likely that many viewers of the documentary will expect that the children, once exposed to one another, would readily discard their differences and learn to relate at a more pure and unaffected level. In fact, the conclusion that is expressed by the film is almost the opposite: which is that the children on both sides of the conflict have been so indoctrinated by the propaganda on both sides that their status as innocents in the conflict is specious. The viewer can see clearly that children on both sides of the conflict have been initiated into the violence and hatred and, in fact, their self-identities are to some terrible extent based on their experience of the conflict. The importance of family, culture, and peer-acceptance all play a role in shaping the successive participation of each generation in the conflict.

            It’s difficult to say which aspect of the film is more tragic, the fact that the children are portrayed as being so heavily indoctrinated into war and conflict, or the fact that the conflict’s greatest toll seems to be on generations who may or may not even understand the original historical basis for the violence and hate. These ironies are actually articulated with great skill by  Goldberg in the film. He is able to keep the emphasis of the film on an emotional level while simultaneously making a very deft intellectual statement. That statement is that the origins of any conflict and reasons for it are of little consequence when measured against the human cost of the conflict. the cost involves not only the loss of life and property, but the loss of humanity. The fact that the youth of multiple generations have been “sacrificed” to the ongoing war between the Israelis and Palestinians is the greatest tragedy that can be seen as associated with the conflict. This is because the loss of youth and innocence that is conveyed in the film is symbolic of the loss of future hope that a resolution to the conflict will ever be attained.  This is obvious due to the fact the the children of the Middle East are  not only symbolically associated with the future of the region, but the literal inheritors of the region and the associated conflict.

Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People

            Sut Jhally’s film: Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People (2006) examines the way in which Arabs are portrayed in Western culture and specifically how Arabs have been shown by Hollywood films throughout many decades in America. The film is narrated by  Jack Shaheen who also wrote the book on whihc the documentary is based. One of the themes of the film is the treatement of Arabs by Hollywood, while another one of the themes of the film is the theme of stereotypes in general and that way in which the urge to create stereotypes about all races and not merely Arabs is a defining characteristic of Western culture. In this sense, the film can be seen as a critcism of Westernb society, but in a larger sense, the film is a criticism of prejudice and cultural chauvanism in any manifestation.

            The film traces the practice of prejudice against Arabs in American cinema all the way back to the early days of silent movies. The film follows this early use of stereotyping and shows how it has maintained a continuous presence in Aerican movies right up to the present day. The narrator of the film instructs the audience to understand that the stereotypes and prejudices about Arabs that are present in American films are not an outgrowth of cultural understanding and objective realism, but a mean-spiritied and deliberate attempt to slander the Arab races. The usual ways in which Arabs are stereotyped in American cinema is as badits, rogues, belly-dancers, thieves, and corrupt shieks. There are litte to no depictions of “good” Arabs in American films. Arab women are almost alwyas shown as supplicant slaves to their male overlords and many young Arab men are portrayed as rifle-weilding terrorists in American movies.

            One of the key things to keep in mind regarding the film is that it shows that the prejudices that are exhibited against Arabs in American films are not only intentional and designed to inspire fear and hatred against Arabs by Westerners, but that these delinerate attempts to create racial prejudice and racially based tension are actually effective. In other words, a greater degree of racial hostility and racial intolerance between Arabs and Westerners has been established due to the influence of stereotyping. This means that the film is actually exploring a very important historical issue which is the way that racial prejudice can be manufactured, or at least intensified, through the use of media and propoganda. The question that  Shaheen puts in the mind of the audience is whther or not the racial stereotyping is designed for a specific purpose and if so, what purpopse?

            The answer to tyhat questiojn is the basis for one theme of the film. One thought offered in the film is that the dispariging idenitty of Arabs as portrayed in American cinema is not only an influence on Western ideas, bit on Arabs’ self-perception. The stereotypes and prejudices that are disclosed in the films are evidently intended to diminish the humanity of the Arabs by showing them as greedy, lazy, and ignorant. While reviewing some of the prejudiced depictions of Arabs in Hollywood films the film’s narrator suggests that the motivation for the distorted portrayal of Arabs in Western films is to a large part based on politics. That is to say, the films are articulating a political agenda, rather than expressing an innate suspicion of dislike of Arabs that exists in Western society. This s a highly significant observation because it shows that teh conflict, prejudice, and racism that is extant between Arabs and Westerners is to a very large extent being manufactured through propoganda and media influecne rather than coming out of a natural sense of racial conflict between two cultures.

            One of the conclusions that is therefore reached by the film is that Hollywood and Washington DC are actually so deeply connedcted aas to serve each other’s interests completely. This might be suprising news to many Americans who probably belive that their media is “free” and created primarily for the purpose of making money. If, in fact, the primary purpose of certain stylistic conventyions in Hollywood movies, such as its portrayal of Arabs, is for political rather than cultural or economic purpposes, then how many other conventions and ideas that are shown in Hollywood films follow the same pattern?  Such ideas can be regarded as the true intention of the film as the evidence is shown to teh viewer that the connection between American politics and Hollywood stereotypes is far from accidental.

            Some of the steretypes that are examined in the film show a nefarious quality when they are viewed in connection to the kind of foreign policy that America has exhibited toward Arab nations over time. For example, the depiction of Arabs as being “pre-technological” and often shown with camels and tents, wearing turbans and holding women as slvoes portrays the Arab as a  primitive, almost subhuman figure.  The danger of thsi kind of stereotyping is not only that it distorts the reality of Arab cultures but that it effectively creates a prejudiced reflex, almost an unconscious processing, of distrust adn dislike of Arabs by Westerners. The fact is that Hollywood films have such a significant impact over the conscious beliefs of the American population, that the constant portrayal of Arabs as primitive and threatening is a recipe to create racial prejudice against Arabs among Americans.

            In reacting to the film as an American, there are several components of response. First, there is the shock of realizing that Hollywood and Washington D.C. seem to be without much doubt collaborators in the service of a shared agenda. That agenda seems to be to use the medium of film as a way to direct adn shape the racial beliefs and persepctives of an entire nation. Another aspect of the reaction to the film that comes with viewing the film as an American is the feeling of “discovery” that comes from beginning to see the pattern of portrayal that promotes racism against Arabs. As such, te film is a bittersweet experience for a typical American viewer. Probably, most Americans walk around beiveing that their films and media are without a speific governmetn agends. However, as shown in Reel Bad Arabs nothing could be further from the truth. Yet another apsect of responding tot he film as an American is a feeling of anger, because the film helps one to realize the way in which fiom has been used as a medium of control and propoganda by the powers-that-be.

              The reaction of horror that I felt — personally — to the film came from realizing that so much of the real-world prejudice, toture, murder, and persecution of Arabs by Westerners is as a result of the kind of prejudicial programming and propaganda that was demonstrated in the documentary. Since the film was careful to show that the prejudicial portrayals of Arabs in American films was part of children’s programming ans well as adult programming it really seems to be that there is a “brainwashing” agenda happening in reggard to creating racial tension between Arabs and Westerners.

            The film offers little in the weay of proposed soultions to the rampant prejudice that is being coded into American moives. The best way to approach the proboem, according to the film, seems to be to simply raise awareness about the propogandastic practices.  Maybe, just as the prejudiced films helped to create real-world prejudice, authentic media about Arab cultures and Arab people can helpt heal the wound created by the racially prejudiced media. this still elaves the world, and particularly America, with a very significant problem which is to find out who, specifically, is directting the propagand machine of Hollywood, and for what specific purposes? Since the portrayal of Arabs as threatening and subhuman by Hollywood has played out in the actual world by way of multi0ple wars with millions of deaths, it seems like it might be a good idea for the American people to look behind the curtain and demand to know who is accountable for the racial propoganda that is being served to them as innocent entertainment.

TV Documentary Inside Mecca

            National Geographic’s TV documentary Inside Mecca brings an intimate portrayal of both the sacred city and a number of individual Islamic pilgrims who take part in the Holy days of the Hajj. The film is an exception to many centuries of tradition where the  city of Mecca and the Hajj were closed to outside audiences and prohibited from being observed by non-Muslims. One of the first things that it is made clear in the film is that the Hajj is not an exception to the daily routines of those million-plus residents of the city, but is, in fact, the reason for daily life in the city. The entire Meccan culture is based around the Hajj season and consists of either preparing for this time or recovering from it. 

            The film shows that Mecca’s history is inextricably bound to the Hajj and the city’s stature as a sacred place. The city has been in existence for over one-thousand years. As an important trade center and religious site, Mecca has occupied a significant and profound status in relation to the history of the Middle Easy which continues now in modern times.  In terms of geography and climate, mecca is not a particularly desirable space of land in the Arab peninsula because it is arid and hot. The lack of precipitation makes modern agriculture difficult in the area. in the past, simply maintaining an adequate water supply for the inhabitants of the region was a challenge.

            In modern times, it is the season of the Hajj which allows the Meccan economy to survive. the annual Hajj is responsible for drawing upwards of 100 million dollars into the region. This is such an important source of revenue that the Saudi ruling classes also spend at least 50 million to support the annual Hajj. Therefore, as the movie indicates quite clearly, the identity of Mecca as a holy place for Muslims is not only a religious issue; it is an economic (and therefore also political) issue and one which is indistinguishable from the way mecca functions and is perceived by the world at large.

            The film also takes into account the long history of Mecca’s mystique. Rather than exploring idea of occult or religious power that may be associated with Mecca, the film instead addresses the fact that the city’s ban on on-Muslims is the primary reason for the city’s mystique particularly among Westerners. In fact, according to the film, the sacred stature of the area that is now known as Mecca stretches back far into deep history. Therefore, the exclusion of non-Muslims from the city can be seen as an extension of previous bans against hunting, tree-cutting or warfare that have been a part of the region for centuries. The reason that the deep history of Mecca is so important to understanding its modern stature is because it is actually the link between modern Islam and Islam’s roots.

            This shows that Mecca is not only an important religious, financial, and political city, but that it is actually a cultural pillar in that it stands at the center of Islamic society.  Most religions have a sacred place or places that serve as pillars for their theology and history. this is, in effect, how Mecca functions in relation to Islam but to an even more profound degree. It is  hardly an exaggeration to suggest that the city of Mecca is, in reality, the “heart” of Islamic culture.  One of the more highly effective aspects of the documentary is to show not only that Mecca is the heart of Islam but that as such the city exerts a multifaceted influence over Middle Eastern culture.  The typical Western vision of Mecca as a mystical Holy city tell only part of the true story of the city. The reality is that Islamic culture is soo deeply tied to mecca in functional ways as to make the sacredness of the city almost mandatory, regardless of religious conventions.

            Of course separating, or attempting to separate, Mecca’s role as religious center from its role as a financial or cultural center is a foolish pursuit. This is precisely the point of the film which seeks to demonstrate how mecca functions in a way that is decidedly different than Western cities. It is both traditional and highly modern; spiritual and political, diverse and exclusionary. The film, in attempting to depict the city and multiple levels through diverse perspectives, is an invitation to Westerners not only to partially experience the city and its history, but to broaden their scope of understanding about Arab culture and the Islamic religion. In this sense, the film is not only a cultural and historical view of Mecca, but an active study of comparative culture meant to bring about a greater depth of mutual understanding.

            One thing that may disturb some viewers of the documentary is that the film concentrates much more on the hajj. If a particular viewer is expecting to see a detailed history of the city, they may be disappointed when viewing the film. The concentration on the Hajj is a strategy meant to show that the religious cultural and day-today lives of Muslims are intimately tied to each other. Whereas in  the West, ideas of urban life, spiritual life, history, and culture seem to be separated  from one another in the average person’s mind, these aspects are united in the Islamic world.

            In my opinion one of the most interesting aspects of the film was the fact that it showed multiple pilgrims to Mecca, including a profile of an American citizen who converted to Islam, as well as black Muslim and an Asian Muslim. The attempt to present Islam as a racially diverse faith si not wholly effective but it is surprising to a person such as myself who, prior to viewing the film, believed that most if not all Muslims were of Arab descent.  Another highly interesting aspect of the film is the way in which the camera crews are able to follow individual pilgrims through the various segments of their respective journeys to Mecca. This allows the documentary to achieve a first-hand  feeling as well as being able to choose from a range of profiled characters to identify with an individual pilgrim.

            The film actually avoids any kind of cumbersome details about Islamic philosophy or tradition and gives the viewer just enough technical information and background to follow the action on the screen. One thing that might surprises Westerners about Mecca and its pilgrims is the extreme physical exertion that is part of the experience of the pilgrims.   Without the film, it is obvious that most Westerners would have no vehicle by which to visually experience the rites of passages that are associated with the Islamic pilgrims to Mecca. In final analysis, the movie functions as a sort of  visceral “primer” on Mecca, its inhabitants, and the pilgrims who annually voyage to the city.

            For those who hold little or no previous knowledge about Mecca or Islam, the film will exert a profound, eye-opening experience. For those who are more familiar with the history of mecca and Islam, the film will provide a very tactile visual experience of the city.  For the average viewer, the film will function as introduction to a culture and religious tradition that has for many centuries only been know by its veneer of secrecy.  The film suggests that by divulging the realities of mecca to Westerners, a further degree of cultural tolerance and understanding might be achieved.

Categories
History

Priestess: Handmaids of Gods: BBC Documentary

The multi-part BBC documentary series titled Divine Women is produced in three parts. Part two is called Handmaids of Gods. Like the other two installments of the series, part two explores the role of women in world religions, in particular in ancient Greece and Rome. The series is presented by a historian, Bettany Hughes and was directed by Emily Davis. The documentary focuses on showing how women, in pre-Christian religions played crucial roles in the spiritual life of many cultures. In the second episode a line of connection evolution is drawn between the development of the role of the sacred priestess in ancient cultures and the eventual creation of the poet and artist.

Categories
Psychology

“A Beautiful Mind” Psychology Analysis

“A Beautiful Mind”, starring Russell Crowe is a psychological drama that details the real-life experiences of brilliant mathematician John Forbes Nash. A prodigy student at Princeton University, Nash was able to do Nobel Prize Winning work as a student. In addition, John Nash is a paranoid schizophrenic.

The movie outlines his brilliance as a mathematician, which led him to teaching. The movie outlines his romantic relationship with his student, the future Alicia Nash. At the same time, John Nash became involved in what seems like a secret government code-breaking operation.

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Movies

“Maria Full of Grace” Alternate Ending

“I need to get away from these two–separate myself…” Lucy thought, as she watched her cohort being dragged away. “They really believe I am poisoned–the perfect escape–slip out unnoticed at night, while I’m expected to die…”

Maria looked at Bianca, and then to Lucy. The ruse was working; they were concerned about her. “As long as they don’t find out about the money, I am in the clear!”

Categories
Literature

The Story of Anvil

The Anvil movie interestingly begins with the band shown playing at a Japan rock festival in the 80s. They shared the same stage with powerhouse rock bands that made it big after that such as Guns N’ Roses, Metallica and Bon Jovi – pretty big names! The story, however, is about Anvil not making it big. They did not enjoy the same success. In fact, they pretty much had bad luck for years to come. They recorded several albums, 13 of them, despite the incompetency of their manager. Why they did not just find another manager is unknown and why none of the other rock bands that had success have Anvil open up for them at concerts, since the movie shows them saying positive things about Anvil in interviews is also unknown.

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Other

Eric Foreman and That 70’s Show

That 70’s Show revolves the lives of several 17-year-olds living in Point Place, Wisconsin, 1976. The head of the group is Eric Forman who lives under the authority of parents Red and Kitty. Living next door is girlfriend Donna Pinciotti and her parents Bob and Midge. The rest of the gang includes Fez, a foreign-exchange student who’s soaking up American culture like a sponge, Jackie Burkhart, her on-again, off-again boyfriend Michael Kelso, and Steven Hyde, a conspiracy theorist who believes Xerox will take over the world. The gang usually spends their time in Eric’s basement, thinking of their lives, parents, and futures, but they manage to get into funny adventures and mishaps along the way through their teenage lives.

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Movies

Thunder Heart

Introduction

The objective of Thunder Heart film is to establish a different form of the Wild West in contradiction of Hollywood where American Indians are portrayed as uncivilized, violent and salvage. The movie is trying to get away from this sensation and to show how the American government has treated Native American. The opening episode begins with native Indians performing a Pow Wow dance early in the morning as the sun is rising. This portrays beautiful scenery with the blue sky and orange light at the bottom of the waking sun. This shows that Native Americans are very spiritual and they take their culture very seriously compared to the life style of white Americans.

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Movies

Thunder Heart Movie Review

Thunder heart is a fascinating movie involving Ray, a man with an FBI rank with Sioux background. Ray is sent to help with the murder investigation in a reservation. Unfortunately, here he should come to terms with his heritage fast so as to get the required information. Gradually, he chooses to reject the tactics of intimidation by fellow FBI agents who are interested in covering up the incriminating circumstances with the collaboration of the locals instead of solving the crime as required. He opts to be tuned to his heritage with the aim of wining the trust of the locals. This film is terrifically entertaining and revolves around not only the Native American culture but also how the system of the political mainstream affects life and culture. Further, this essay tackles thunder heart review under the following sub-headings culture, political and corruption as well as education.

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Movies

Thunderheart Movie

The movie Thunderheart, directed by Michael Apted in 1992, draws its storyline from the events of Wounded Knee incident in 1973. During this incident, members of the American Indian Movement matched into the town of Wounded Knee in South Dakota to protest against the Federal government’s discriminatory policies against Native Americans. In the movie, Val Kilmer plays as Ray Levoi, and FBI agent with native American roots, who is sent to investigate a murder that has occurred on a native American reservation. The murder being investigated is political in nature, and Levoi’s boss has picked him for this assignment because his heritage might make it easy to talk to the local people. As he goes about his investigations, Levoi gains more awareness about Indian issues. Initially, the natives do not welcome him well because they think he is just an agent of Washington, which has been oppressing them. This movie highlights various issues to do with culture, political corruption and discrimination.

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Movies

Critical Analysis of the Movie Gangster Squad

Introduction

Gangster squad is a captivating series that is action packed with the major theme being conspiracy. This film is well arranged as the events flow smoothly making it interesting and easy to understand. Gangster squad has incorporated various movie aspects and this makes it to have a nice flow. These series has taken care of all factors and this make it to be captivating. Even though it is an action movie, children can watch under parental guidance because there is a lot of education to be learnt from the movie. Gangster squad has connected various factors of film shooting making in to be one of the most interesting series.

Categories
Philosophy

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Dir. Michel Gondry. Perfs. Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Tom Wilkinson. Focus Features, 2004.

Annotation

Michel Gondry created a film allowing the general public to develop their own opinion of just how strong a person can be once in love; in mind, body and heart. The target audience is clearly the avid movie critic, as well as the intellectual, illustrated by the plot’s overall complexity. Joel, a reserved gentleman, falls in love with Clementine, a very out-going young lady–polar opposites. As the film progresses, the love they share is increasingly engaging as Joel continues to erase his memory of Clementine, as she did him. Their views on life and love cause specific issues within their relationship, and the plot allows them to go back and see just what made that relationship fail.