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Crash Movie Essay

994 words - 4 pages

Crash: A Disturbing Mirror on Humanity

Does everyone hate or dislike a certain type of person? Do people continuously make snap judgments of others based upon their appearance? Do people really believe in stereotypes they hear about other ethnicities? Are individuals naturally afraid of unfamiliar cultures? These questions are explored by Director Paul Haggis in the provocative 2005 film Crash. Set in contemporary Los Angeles, Crash is an explosive exploration of prejudice.

The plot of Crash consists of a series of inter-related vignettes about people of assorted ethnicities and socio-economic groups who come into contact with one another—often violently--over a 36-hour period. In the ...view middle of the document...

Scott Denby, film critic for the New Yorker, notes that Haggis “is pushing the word ‘crash’ beyond the literal: he means any kind of rough contact between folks from different ethnic groups” (312). The term crash implies destruction, and the interaction of the characters in this movie results in the destruction of both property and life. A crash also connotes contact and contrast. In the film, contrasts between characters are highlighted by the contact that occurs when disparate people are thrown together in a large urban setting.

The film contains powerful symbols, ranging from objects to people. Cars are an obvious symbol in a movie titled Crash. The vehicles in the film range from an expensive SUV to a public bus. The SUVs suggest class and wealth, as well as a sense of entitlement to drive a gas-guzzling automobile in an energy strapped environment. The bus, as one character points out, is associated with the working class who cannot afford their own cars. The movie is set at Christmas time, and contains the Christian symbolism of peace, forgiveness, redemption and love, as suggested by a Nativity scene on a garage door. The characters themselves function symbolically. For example, characters who symbolize power include the director representing the power of the film industry in L.A., the detectives and police officers representing the power law enforcement, and the district attorney representing the power of politics. The presence of snow in the movie suggests purification, as does the imagery of fire and ash. The fire and ash suggest death, the ultimate tragic outcome of hatred, as well as the anger, passion, and violence associated with racism in the film.

The themes of the film are related to the various aspects of prejudice. The most pervasive theme is racism. The white policeman--whose father lost his janitorial business due to preferential affirmative action practices--is angry at African-Americans. A...

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