Essay about Erosion of Wills in Doubt by john Patrick Shanley

Essay about Erosion of Wills in Doubt by john Patrick Shanley

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Doubt is an incredibly powerful and intriguing movie from director/writer John Patrick Shanley who originally wrote the story for theatre. The incredibly Irish-Catholic director laced the script with intentional hints and misdirection to keep the audience guessing as to whether Father Flynn is actually abusing children. In the cinematic version it was Shanley and the cinematographer, Roger Deakins job to constantly keep the audience from knowing every fact about the central plot. What the fantastic duo does with the framing of the shots, the content and dialogue between the characters weaves a near perfect narrative of the pain of doubt.
The film is punctuated by three sermons given during a Sunday mass. The first mass which serves as the big opening scene is picturesquely grandiose in typical catholic fashion. Long, drawn out cuts of the church full of worshippers who all look very small against the vast open and silent space that fills the church like cotton establish the importance of Father Flynn as the camera cuts to a close up of him. This quick switch of focus implies not just his importance in the story but his importance as a figure of power in the eyes of the people populating mise-en-scéne. His opening sermon is based poignantly on doubt. The quote “There are those of you in church today who know exactly the crisis of faith I describe. And I want to say to you: doubt can be a bond as powerful and sustaining as certainty.” (Doubt 2008) not only foreshadows just how close the three main characters will come to each other over the course of the plot. It also is reflected in Sister Aloysius’ weaponized certainty that she will root out any impurities in her church. But it’s the panning shots of the crowd with the ...


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...erself that God has a plan, because how can he create and love such a monster? It fulfills the typical Hollywood payoff by sending Father Flynn away from Donald Miller, but at the cost of Aloysius’ faith. The one quality that has been keeping her going since her husband died.
Doubt has painted a picture of the heartache that revolves around suspicion and gossip and how they can erode even the strongest of wills. The characters and settings grow ever more vicious as the movie progresses and the heated climactic argument between Streep and Hoffman is one of my personal favorites now. As the doubt festers like a wound in the characters mind it creates a rich cinematic experience for the viewer as they are left bonded to the humanity of the people on screen. There is only one in this movie that is as unshakable as Aloysius certainty, and that the film is worth it.

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