Symbolism in Pleasantville

Try the Art and Popular Culture site for a discussion of symbolism in Pleasantville. Here’s an extract:

Though one of the most notable aspects of Pleasantville is its extreme contrast – particularly its rich contrast between color and black and white – the symbolism in the film should be noted as well. The most obvious symbolism exists in the “colored” versus those who are still black and white. As a reference to the racism in the 1950s and 1960s in United States, there is a sign posted in a shop window at one point declaring “No Coloreds Allowed”, which mimics those in stores that refused service to Black Americans during the aforementioned era.

Towards the end of the film, the courtroom scene is a throwback to the To Kill a Mockingbird movie, where Atticus Finch makes his famous closing argument. As in To Kill a Mockingbird, the courtroom is divided by color. Sitting in the second floor balcony seats are the “colored”, where Black Americans sat in To Kill a Mockingbird, and the black and white people (White Americans) are sitting on the floor seats of the courtroom. Bud, like Atticus Finch, also makes an impassioned speech to the judge and jury about the unfairness of the trial at hand; however, Bud is not the lawyer but instead one of the accused.

Gary Ross was quoted about the symbolism of the film, saying, “This movie is about the fact that personal repression gives rise to larger political oppression…That when we’re afraid of certain things in ourselves or we’re afraid of change, we project those fears on to other things, and a lot of very ugly social situations can develop”.

Read the rest here.


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