The film is about two siblings who magically get inside a 1950s black and white television sitcom called Pleasantville through a remote control. The sitcom shows a perfect community where the firefighter only saves cats from the trees, the weather is always perfect, and the basketball team never misses a shot. In Pleasantville, both David and Jennifer are forced to take on the roles of Bud and Mary-Sue. But as they try to play their roles, their presence soon influences drastic changes. The people of Pleasantville discover art, books, music, and freedom. As new colors start to spread through the town, this change is not accepted by the Mayor and the black and white citizens of the town.
Pleasantville was a place of innocence and a perfect world. Through the usage of color, the first major social issue was the discovery of sex. When Skip Martin takes Jennifer to the Lover's lane for a romantic time and hand holding. Jennifer takes control and has sex with Skip Martin- a concept unknown to everyone in Pleasantville. Joe Leydon observes that, "At first, only flowers reveal their natural colors. But then the virus starts to spread, and soon some of the other sexually awakened teens blossom with vibrant flesh tones." (Leydon) Slowly, Pleasantville begins changing from black and white to color, starting from flowers, cars, and fruits to people's faces who experience new emotions. This color change is believed to be an act of sin by the mayor and the rest of the black and white citizens of Pleasantville. This social change represents how most of the cultures and religions view sex today. Many religious people frown up the movie starting from this scene because they think it promotes sexual behavior. Some religions and its people with a deeper understanding of faith look beyond this issue and discover the sociological meaning. This scene, the first colored rose, and all the following color changes develop the idea that the black and white society is becoming colorized. It opens a door to happiness and freedom.
Another issue in Pleasantville was Feminism. Betty Parker is a perfect 1950s housewife who cooks and cleans every day. Betty also has a secret relationship with the soda shop owner Bill Johnson which causes problems in her marriage with George. She wants to change, but she feels forced by social expectations to disguise her true self because she is afraid she will get frowned upon by the rest of the town for being different than other housewives. She soon realizes that change is good and that accepting it is the right thing to do and shows her true self to her husband. When George finds out about her color change he says, "Now you listen to me. You're coming to this meeting. You're going to put on some makeup. You're going to be home at six o'clock every night, and you're going to have dinner ready on this table." (Macy). Betty smiles at him kindly and reply's "No, I'm not, sweetie." (Allen). This is a very powerful scene from the movie because Betty refuses to obey her husband and tells him what she is really thinking for the very first time. Feminism has been a great issue since 1848, and this movie shows how hard it is for a woman, in this case, Betty, to come out of her shell and express her true self.
Another major social change happens when Bud Parker and Bill Johnson are sent to trial for painting banned drawing using banned colors on the side of the buildings. This is Pleasantville's first trial ever and represents the social issue of racism, colored people vs. non-colored people. When Big Bob, the mayor, says that this behavior needs to stop, Bud Parker replies with, "That's just the point! It can't stop at once, because it's in you, and you can't stop something that's inside you."(Parker). Then he proceeds to convince his dad, George Parker, that these emotions are real by saying, "I know you miss her, I mean, you told me you did. But maybe it's not just the cooking or the cleaning that you miss. Maybe it's something else. Maybe you can't even describe it. Maybe you only know it when it's gone. Maybe it's like there's a whole piece of you that's missing, too. Look at her, Dad. Doesn't she look pretty like that? Doesn't she look just as beautiful as the first time you met her? Do you really want her back the way she was? Doesn't she look wonderful? Now, don't you wish you could tell her that?" (Parker) Throughout history, there has always been a problem between non-colored and colored people. This trial scene represented how hard it was to convince people to accept the change. When the non-colored people see the nude painting of Betty Parker on the window of Bill Johnsons soda shop, they start a riot against the colored people. Non-colored people destroy the shops, burn the books, and harass the colored people in the street. As the people gain more color, the mayor closes the lover's lane and the library, bans certain genre of music, or using paint other than black, white, or gray. In protest, Bud Parker and Bill Johnson paint a colorful mural on a wall of all the things wrong with the town. When they go trial in front of the people, Bud defend their actions, and convinces people there are much more feelings inside of them if they just let go. He also eventually stirs enough anger in Big Bob that even he becomes colored as well. By the time the trial is over, mayor, and the entire town and non-colored people, gain color, and this ends the color segregation.
Some may say Jennifer should have gone back home with David to challenge and make herself a better person back home because she is the one who ruined a perfect town. This claim carries little weight, however, given Joe Leydon's statement that, "Pleasantville is a place where the locals skirt perilously close to fascism when their way of life is threatened. But that way of life may have much to offer: The longer Jennifer stays, the more she grows as an individual - she even starts to read books - and the less she feels the need to play the role of a hip and promiscuous '90s teen." (Leydon) Jennifer was an outgoing and shallow teenage who did not care about school or education. Jennifer decision to stay in Pleasantville showed a great change in her character compared to the beginning of the movie. Pleasantville changed her views on how she perceived the real world and her place in it. Jennifer stayed to finish her education, while David used the remote control to return to the real world to his mom with new knowledge. It shows that their trip to Pleasantville turned out to be for the better after all.
Of course, many will probably disagree with the assertion that the new found freedom in Pleasantville will help the characters grow and experience new things instead of the same old perfect routine. Some might even suggest, for example, Peter T Chattaway, says, "In the end, the characters have no clear idea what to do with their freedom, but they look forward to their directionless futures with wonder nonetheless. Why they should do so is puzzling." (Chattaway). The Pleasantville changed, people were introduced to new feelings and color. They found new information, music, and art. The people were happier, they experienced new emotions, new words, a whole new world outside of Pleasantville. Even if they don't know what to do with the new found freedom, everything is so much better in color.
Pleasantville is a must watch because it is a great comedy and it hit important social problems discussed above using color change theme. "There are some places ... that the road doesn't go in a circle. There are some places where the road keeps going." (Maguire). There are some movies that are forgotten in a month but there some, like Pleasantville, that make one see the world in a different light.
Starring: Tobey Maguire, Jeff Daniels, Joan Allen,William H. Macy, J.T Walsh,Reese Witherspoon,Don Knotts,Paul Walker, and Marley Shelton
Written,Produced&Directed By:Gary Ross
Nothing is as a simple as black&white
Is everything pleasant in your life? Are you always happy? Or are you like me when nothing ever goes your way? If the answer to the first two questions are no and the third one yes then you should watch this film. You should know that the film references some cult black and whit television but I don't know which. But this film is going to hit with it's message and it lasts. That hope is still in the world even if you change.
In Pleasantville David is young man in high school who watches Tv times Pleasantville and has watched every single episode and is going to watch the marathon while answering the questions. And he has a crush on a girl in school but doesn't have the courage to ask her out. His sister on the other hand is a fad girl who hangs out with her friends and is trying to make a date with the hottest guy in school. But everything changes when a Tv repairman comes at their door and gives them a new remote. He starts asking David questions about Pleasantville, when the repairman leaves David and his sister start arguing over the Tv again and they pull the remote and it sends them to Pleasantville, where they begin to discover something in themselves and the town.
You will appreciate this film more if you do what I did and go in to it knowing very little. It will be the greatest joy you will have with this film. You might like it if your a self-effacing person because nothing ever goes your way,if you just want a good laugh or if you just want to smile after a bad day.Because it has some memorable characters played by wonderful actors.
Tobey Maguire plays David who once he goes into the world of Pleasantville must become Bud and sticks with that name because he is changing. He gives an amazing performance, Tobey Maguire notably does when he plays characters similar to these. This is the best performance I've seen from Reese Witherspoon who plays David/Bud's sister Jenifer/Mary Sue, Her character's always spice things up to her taste, it makes Maguire's characters eventually play along in his own way. Joan Allen(who's work I've never seen)plays Betty the mother of the television characters Bud and Mary Sue. Her and Reese Witherspoon share one of my favorite sequences in the film. Marly Shelton plays Margaret who gives cookies to one of the characters from the Tv world but decides to go with the change that she's happening around her. They all feel something in their guts these characters and that's the best thing about them they don't know what to do, they would usually feel scared of getting out of their comfort zone but they have the courage to do so.
The film has great cinematography, it's the best looking even when it's in black and white.
Plesantville is one of the best films you will ever see,it looks beautiful,has memorable characters with knock out performances. It's well shot too, Plesantville is a pleasant five out of five.
Two bickering siblings, David and Jennifer, are given a high tech remote that sucks them into the world of David's favorite 1950s sitcom Pleasantville. Unable to escape for weeks on end, they tamper with some of the classic episodes and make the dreary black and white repetitive nature of Pleasantville more uplifting and colorful, literally. As technicolor slowly begins to spread into the once all black and white town, prejudice arises amongst a corrupt local government and David and Jennifer strive to fix Pleasantville's problems before returning home.
Pleasantville's plot always seemed interesting to me before I watched it and heard about it, and it really is interesting. Comparative to that of fellow late 90s fun on 50s culture film Blast from the Past, its original storyline of getting back home and not tampering too much with original episode storylines is overriden by the uprising of technicolor in Pleasantville, a clearly personal but still very inventive social statement. The charming nature of Pleasantville is soon reminded that even in this seemingly perfect realm, trouble and gloom still resides - which is great, but affects the film's atmosphere in its final hour. Pleasantville isn't possible without a great story, and it mainly delivered on that achievement - there were a lot of missed opportunities floating around for more entertaining plot turns. The performances are good, nothing to run home about but they're fine. Some characters are very likable - specifically, I found Jeff Daniels' character to be great - and others achieve at being loathsome. Pleasantville is good and gives a lot of inventive, groundbreaking and clever ideas for a story, but it tends to flipflop on that same element.