Nothing is more American than the crossover appeal of products in the mass media; this appeal is what propelled the idea for the 1985 release of the film Clue, based on the Parker Brothers board game. Furthermore, in keeping with the game's theme, the film appeared in theaters across the country with different endings. With an ensemble cast of talented but little known actors—Tim Curry, Christopher Lloyd, Lesley Ann Warren, Martin Mull, Madeline Kahn, Eileen Brennan and Michael McKean—Clue seemed like a film destined to slip into obscurity. After all, it was a comedy, clever but crass. A deeper analysis of the film provides some insight into a running commentary that presents not just a murder mystery involving several comedic characters, but rather a complex allegorical situation that presents characters as archetypal figures for repressed forces in the dominant American ideology. In reality, Clue is a film about the crisis of the upper class white male in American culture.
In the piece “Cinema/Ideology/Criticism,” Jean Luc-Comolli and Jean Narboni define the critic's job as the discernment of “which films, books and magazines allow the ideology a free, unhampered passage, transmit it with crystal clarity, serve as its chosen language” and which films “attempt to make it turn back and reflect itself, intercept it, make it visible by revealing its mechanisms, by blocking them” (753). Through their examination, seven film categories are outlined. Clue falls into the “E” category, which is defined as “films which seem at first sight to belong firmly within the ideology and to be completely under its sway, but which turn out to be so only in an ambiguous manner” (75...
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...itty dialogue. As Wadworth said, it should be no surprise that the FBI (dominant ideology) is trying to cover up the murder of these repressed forces. “The FBI is used to cleaning up after multiple murders. Why do you think it's run by a man called Hoover?” By continually making fun of the very powers it is supposedly reinforcing, Clue becomes an important film in criticizing American bourgeois ideology.
Gledhill, Christine. “Recent Developments in Feminist Film Criticism.” Braudy and Cohen, 251-72.
Braudy, Leo and Marshall Cohen, eds. Film Theory and Criticism: Introductory Readings, Fifth Edition. New York: Oxford UP, 1999.
Comolli, Jean-Luc and Jean Narboni, “Cinema/Ideology/Criticism.” Braudy and
Lynn, Jonathan. Clue. Paramount, 1985.
Mulvey, Laura. “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema.” Braudy and Cohen, 83
In this essay, the author
Analyzes how clue is a film about the crisis of the upper class white male in american culture, based on the parker brothers board game.
Analyzes how jean luc-comolli and jean narboni define the critic's job as the discernment of which films, books and magazines allow the ideology a free, unhampered passage, transmit it with crystal clarity, serve as its chosen language. clue falls into the "e" category.
Analyzes how the film operates on a simple murder mystery, which becomes even more interesting when examined under the possibility of ideological criticism.
Analyzes how wadsworth's portrayal of mr. body as a capitalist american male is reinforced throughout the film. the use of pseudonyms enhances the idea of each character representing an repressed force.
Analyzes how the male characters in the film represent internal fears that the white upper-class american male holds regarding repressed danger. colonel mustard represents a fear of the end product of capitalism.
Analyzes how each character is given a specific weapon in the film by mr. body, which in turn is to be used on wadsworth, an implication that america is giving power to these repressed forces, power that might eventually kill the dominant ideology.
Analyzes how professor plum represents a lack of sexual control and sexual boundaries, another repressed fear of the high-class white american male. all the jokes involving plum center on his obsession with sex.
Analyzes how mr. green, played by michael mckean, represents the most repressed inner fear of the bourgeois male in the film. he is immediately obedient to other men and apologetic for his every action.
Analyzes how female characters represent external threats to male sexuality and the traditional power of the american male.
Analyzes how mrs. peacock is portrayed as a woman who has gained political power. she accepts bribes to change her senator husband's position on foreign policies.
Analyzes how the second female character represents the fear of female sexual empowerment.
Analyzes how mrs. white represents a fear of the emasculation of man by woman, who has gained power over him.
Analyzes how wadsworth is added to the film as the butler. he represents a repressed fear, the fear of the working class rising to become equal or superior to bourgeois male.
Analyzes how comolli and narboni suggest that "category e" films "throw up obstacles in the way of ideology, causing it to swerve and get off course."
Analyzes how the "murderer of america" turns out to be miss scarlet, the empowerment of female sexuality. she uses her femme fatale status to cover up her selling of national security intelligence.
Analyzes how the film plays with this, asserting that mrs. peacock has "transcended" from the lower female position to a higher status associated with masculinity.
Analyzes how the deus ex machina ending is most revealing, as five of the six major suspects are murderers, with wadsworth the butler masterminding the whole event.
Analyzes how clue is a "category e" film because of the narrative flow that establishes false security with the dominant ideology regaining control at the film's end.
Cites braudy, leo, and marshall cohen, eds. film theory and criticism: introductory readings, fifth edition.
Kuhns, William. “The Movie Columnists.” Movies in America. London: The Tantivy Press, 1975. 142-73. Print.
In this essay, the author
Explains the rise of the gangster film in the united states.
Analyzes how leroy used innovative technology, style, and the social scene of organized crime to delineate the "gangster" genre of film.
Explains that the goal of directors in the art of film is to deliver entertainment and information that an audience finds emotionally compelling. mervyn leroy pioneered the film industry into its historical "golden age."
Argues that the most polished technical aspect of little caesar was the introduction of synchronized recorded sound. the gangster genre was defined by films that were nothing more than visual depiction of the criminal underworld.
Describes how a "blimped camera" was introduced on the set of little caesar to eliminate unwanted low frequency noise. the blimp was supported by an elastic suspension and created soundless air around it.
Analyzes how mervyn leroy employed edward g. robinson as the leading role of rico "little caesar" bandello.
Analyzes how the gangster genre exhibits a similar structure seen in an ancient tragic. rico's greed is fueled by his dependence on his gun.
Analyzes how mervyn leroy uses a colloquial dialogue and jazz soundtrack to set the gangster film apart from other genres in the 1930's.
Analyzes how mervyn leroy's attempt to delineate the gangster genre needed to expose the social scene of organized crime.
Analyzes how clothes, cars, and other material possessions reflect a gangster's place in an underground society.
Analyzes how the gangster's tommy gun is the ultimate source of his power, and an instrument for self-expression through controlling various events and people through the rise to the top.
Analyzes how leroy's little caesar shows that the gangster is a man of the city.
Analyzes how meryvn leroy's use of technological advancements, style, and social scene of organized crime gave birth to a golden age of depression-era movies defined by fear and pleasure.
Cites cottrell, robert c., "mafia/ organized crime." st. james encyclopedia of popular culture.
Cites frontani, michael, and gabree, john. gangsters from little caesar to the godfater.
Cites jacobs, lewis, and jones, preston neal. robertson, edward g. (1893-1973), st. james encyclopedia of popular culture.
November 1998, written for FILM 220: Aspects of Criticism. This is a 24-week course for second-year students, examining methods of critical analysis, interpretation and evaluation. The final assignment was simply to write a 1000-word critical essay on a film seen in class during the final six-weeks of the course. Students were expected to draw on concepts they had studied over the length of the course.
In this essay, the author
Describes film 220: aspects of criticism, a 24-week course for second-year students examining methods of critical analysis, interpretation, and evaluation. students were expected to draw on concepts they had studied.
Analyzes how the age of innocence is a film about confinement, restraint, and stoicism. the upper-class new york is content being anaesthetized by the idle task of upholding wealth and reputation.
Analyzes how newland and countess olenska's love is in stark contrast with the emotional vacuity of their peers. the film is permeated by this sort of foreplay, teasing the viewer from beginning to end.
Analyzes how newland meets the countess olenska in a balcony at the opera. he is distracted by the gesture and captivated by her outstretched fingers.
Describes how newland repairs to the beauford's house for a ballroom gala. the roving camera begins its tour of the drawing rooms by focusing on the table strewn with white gloves.
Analyzes how newland is shown negotiating his way through the drawing rooms to the ballroom, revealing a woman's body in its full nakedness.
Analyzes how may steals a glance at countess olenska and newland, noticing how well the two get along.
Analyzes how newland's different opinions of may and the countess reveal themselves further as he selects flowers for the two women.
Analyzes how the camera zooms out from its focus on the countess's hands as she advances towards newland with arms and fingers outstretched.
Analyzes how newland peels away countess olenska's glove, and a horse whinnies, signaling the climax of the lovers' embrace.
Analyzes how newland's composure slips and shatters over the course of the film as he becomes obsessed with countess olenska and the allure of her forbidden touch.
Rodowick, David Norman. The Crisis of Political Modernism: Criticism and Ideology in Contemporary Film Theory. Urbana: University of Illinois, 1988. 221-98. Print.
In this essay, the author
Analyzes how the justice department spoke to a woman whose daughter was sexually assaulted, at the age of five, by an adolescent boy, who was sentenced to two years of community service.
Analyzes how ralegh's "discoverie" was a sex-dripping advertisement for young men to want to conquer land as much as they desired the flesh of women. the america engraving by theodor galle is soaking with sexual conduct and the need to dominate these people.
Analyzes how the use of savagery, and the feminine words to describe land, allow the european patriarchy to have domination as their right.
Analyzes how the writing in "discoverie" portrays a boastful attitude, as well as patriotic. the reading doesn't talk about why women in particular are seen as something that must be dominated or conquered.
Analyzes how the gendered metaphorical discourse of queen elizabeth at tilbury anticipates ralegh's desire to conquer and take the land from the amazons.
Analyzes how ralegh's desire to understand the truth of warlike women preoccupied him. his ruler is also a woman, whom he must honor and treat with the same respect as the king.
Analyzes how the language of 'boys will be boys' was accepted during the rape of young girls.
Opines that the questioning of society's norms is when things rear their ugly heads with their many flaws.
Analyzes how mulvey's visual pleasure and narrative cinema is a questioning of how women are being presented as normality in cinema.
Explains that the woman displayed has functioned on two levels: as erotic object for the characters within the screen story, and as
Analyzes how ralegh's "discoveries" makes certain behavior and thought appear to be normality because outside of europe most is unknown and different.
Analyzes how language has the power to control, gain respect, and lose respect. ralegh's "discoverie" was a manipulation of words to lure people to do an evil.
Opines that we must think of our language when we speak of something that is not ourselves, and question the power of words that are being used and accepted by society.
Describes examples of language being used on a daily basis that controls one another.
Describes montrose's book, the work of gender in the discourse of discovery.
Explains rodowick, david norman, the crisis of political modernism: criticism and ideology in contemporary film theory.
Regardless of its genre or auteur, every film represents a certain ideology. According to Bordwell and Thompson (503), ideology is a shared system of values, beliefs and ideas that are assumed to be true by a social group. The ideology of a film is to influence a group of society with a pre-conceived mindset, based around the environment of a particular era that it is made in. This essay will focus on the ideological messages in films that took place during the 1950s, for instance, the politics of class and gender, paying reference to the film, All That Heaven Allows by Douglas Sirk. Taking place in a 1950s time frame, All That Heaven Allows features Cary as the point of view of the film. She is an upper-class widow, who falls in love with her gardener, Ron, a younger man of a lower class than her. Their love affair gains much disapproval and criticisms by both Cary’s children and her country club peers, causing her to be constantly conflicted on whether she should continue her relationship with Ron or succumb to the pressure of the people around her opposing their relationship.
In this essay, the author
Explains that every film represents an ideology, based on a shared system of values, beliefs, and ideas assumed to be true by social groups. the essay will focus on ideological messages in films that took place during the 1950s, such as the politics of class and gender.
Analyzes how seawright's idea of the american dream in the 1950s was drilled into society by the government to prevent them from entertaining new ideas of political structure or socialism.
Analyzes how the setting of cary's upper-middleclass home is cluttered with objects from her relationship with her deceased husband and the shots of her highlights loneliness.
Analyzes how women replaced men in the work field during world war ii and were urged to return home to perform their rightful duties as the woman who served her man and children at home.
Analyzes how melodramas of the 1940s and 1950s, like sirk’s all that heaven allow, permit detailed scrutiny of sexuality and sexual differences especially among women.
Analyzes how sirk criticizes and reveals problems regarding the notion of classism through all that heaven allows.
Compares the houses of the bourgeois and the working class, which are minimalistic and spacious. the openness of alida and mick's houses shows that they are more free to express themselves.
Analyzes how all that heaven allows provides a good platform to criticize and explore the bourgeois and working class of the united states and the problems between politics of classes and gender during the 1950s.
Analyzes how the film, all that heaven allows, reflects the ideology of non-conformity and consumerism in the 1950s.
In recent times, such stereotyped categorizations of films are becoming inapplicable. ‘Blockbusters’ with celebrity-studded casts may have plots in which characters explore the depths of the human psyche, or avant-garde film techniques. Titles like ‘American Beauty’ (1999), ‘Fight Club’ (1999) and ‘Kill Bill 2’ (2004) come readily into mind. Hollywood perhaps could be gradually losing its stigma as a money-hungry machine churning out predictable, unintelligent flicks for mass consumption. While whether this image of Hollywood is justified remains open to debate, earlier films in the 60’s and 70’s like ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ (1967) and ‘Taxi Driver’ (1976) already revealed signs of depth and avant-garde film techniques. These films were successful as not only did they appeal to the mass audience, but they managed to communicate alternate messages to select groups who understood subtleties within them.
In this essay, the author
Explains that hollywood films can be categorized according to the genre system. celebrity-packed blockbusters filled with action and drama, with seamless top-of-the-line digital editing and special effects, were considered ‘hollywood films’.
Argues that hollywood may be gradually losing its stigma as a money-hungry machine churning out predictable, unintelligent flicks for mass consumption.
Explains how the two-tiered system allowed hollywood to remain faithful to the mass audience, yet popular among the rising film-literate generation.
Explains that allusion in film history has become an important expressive device used by directors extensively to make comments about other films within their own films or vice-versa.
Analyzes how tarantino pays homage to hong kong cinematic style of quick zoom shots which emphasized the expressions of the characters’ faces.
Analyzes how ‘kill bill 2’ utilizes the two-tiered system of communication within the film. it is a samurai / action film about an ex-assassin who decides to take revenge.
Analyzes how tarantino's technique is a 'post-modern collage', reinventing and combining genres into his films.
Compares hollywood allusionists and post-modernism, stating that allusionism operates on a two-tiered system which garners both the film literate and non-film
Analyzes how carroll asserts that a two-tiered system with allusions hinting of complex themes from great works by great directors will not add quality to the film itself.
Analyzes how tarantino uses allusions to create an intertextual art, extending and allowing the film to be interpreted from various levels.
Cites sergio leone's a fistful of dollars, american beauty, and robert zemeckis' back to the future.
Compares the films scary movie, the simpsons, and taxi driver. the future of allusion: hollywood in the seventies and beyond.
Williams, Linda. "Film Bodies: Genre, Gender and Excess." Braudy and Cohen (1991 / 2004): 727-41. Print.
In this essay, the author
Analyzes how williams neglects other genres such as comedy and musicals because they do not fit into her belief that "females make the best victims."
Explains that williams, linda, "film bodies: genre, gender and excess." braudy and cohen.
Analyzes how the film scholar and gender theorist linda williams juxtaposes the three genres to reveal similarities and differences, and their similar and different desire effects on the audiences.
Opines that williams' article is insightful in some respects, but the overall neglect of comedy and musical in order to satisfy and prove her criticisms regarding the gender roles in these films, render the article almost entirely ineffective to its readers.
Petrie, Dennis and Boggs, Joseph. The Art of Watching Films. New York: McGraw Hill, 2012.
In this essay, the author
Explains that dr. seuss' the lorax, originally published in 1971, became a classic children's book. the film was made by directors chris renaud and kyle balda.
Analyzes how dr. seuss' the lorax is a classic children's book about the mysterious forest creature. the film is about ted who wants to find out about trees after his crush audrey said that she would marry the boy who got her the truffula tree seed
Explains the changes that the lorax went through first: a change in medium. the film opened up the world of the short children's book and it took only 18 minutes to read.
Explains that in dr. seuss's the lorax, the narrator is not a character of the story. the film is in first-person and objective point of view.
Analyzes how the film had more characters than the book. the lorax, the once-ler, and the unnamed boy were the villains.
Describes eisenberg, eric's "dr. seuss' the lorax".
Analyzes lawson, corrina, and condé nast's "the evolution of the lorax from a book to a movie."
Analyzes how the lorax director chris renaud used "it's always sunny" in the film.
Opines that petrie, dennis, and boggs, joseph, the art of watching films.
Analyzes how the film adaptation of the lorax can be difficult, as the book has a somber tone and dr. seuss' cautionary tale.
Analyzes how the lorax book went from the writer, dr. seuss, to film directors, chris renaud and kyle balda.
Explains that the lorax book was written with rhymed words; the film was a musical, and the citizens of thneedville and the once-ler sang.
Cites puig, claudia, and shell, nick. "suess' "the lorax" delievers an evergreen message.