“Moving at the speed of life, we are bound to collide with each otherâ€¦” Cruel, serious, true-life and at the same time lyrical and touching – these words can describe the film “Crash”, directed by Paul Haggis in 2004. At first superficial glance, the film seems to be about racism, a clash of cultures and their respective representatives. However in fact, the film tells the story not only and not so much about it, but about differences and similarities of ordinary people.
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It addresses the problems of modern society, violence, cynicism of people towards each other and especially towards members of other ethnic cultures. This is especially actual for our country as it unites many nationalities, among which the conflicts constantly arise. The film is not about few characters, but about many at once. Here are no main characters, but rather all the characters are the main and important (Miller 45). Every person, the member of the film has a separate story different from others, but connected to them at the end.
The director shows the fate of fourteen people repeatedly cross over 36 hours. There are two policemen, one of which appears to be a total “asshole”, rude, harsh, embittered cad and racist, the other is still a young, inexperienced guy, who seems to be good and nice; but during the film they change their roles, and we see who is who. There are two Afro-American guys who steal cars and hate white people. We also see a man who is attorney and his wife, who is suspicious to all “non-white people”, whether Negro or Hispanic, but tells this only to her husband, being afraid of public condemnation. A young Latino man, who puts locks on doors and do not inspire confidence in clients. There is an Afro-American filmmaker who curries favour with police officers and wishes to be born “white.” We see Afro-American detective who forgets about his mother and brother; Persians` family, whose head is an American citizen, but not really knowing the language faces a lot of problems (Seller 2006).
Throughout the film, we learn about every character, which they really are, if they are able to make sacrifices, to risk their lives, who can go against society, and who tries not to stand out. There ware no obvious good or bad characters. Each has its own truth, its own life. The film attracts as a magnet, enchants and you start to feel a part of it.
All characters of the film are bright and deserve attention, but the most impression was made on my by two police officers: Tommy Hansen and John Ryan. Officer Tommy Hansen (Ryan Phillipe) is a young, white Los Angeles police officer who works as a partner with an older Officer John Ryan. At the very beginning we see Tommy as a fair, shy, inexperienced policeman. Once, after watching his partner John Ryan pull over black Cameron Thayer and his wife Christine and sexually molest Christine, Tommy desires to change of partner. He feels guilty over the incident and despises Officer John Ryan, so can’t continue to work with his partner-racist. Such reaction on the situation characterized Tommy from a positive side and makes viewers sympathize him. Despite the request of Tommy, his supervisor Lieutenant Dixon doesn’t satisfy the claim and agrees to transfer him only if he claims his “uncontrollable flatulence” requires him to drive alone in the car. Tommy has nothing to do, but to agree and the next day he is reassigned to a single man patrol car (Ewing 2010).
The same day, on his patrol he joins a police while chasing Cameron Thayer, who was being car jacked, but fought off his carjackers and is going away with one of carjacker being still in the car. Once after coming into a dead end Cameron, who is angry because of LAPD, confronts the police officers. Fair Tommy decides to solve the problem and tries to convince Cameron to come down to avoid a quarrel which could possibly end with Cameron’s death. Tommy defends Cameron, telling that he is a friend of his, and convinces the police officers to let Cameron go home with a “harsh warning”. This scene proves that Tommy influenced by remorse behaves fairly. He evokes positive emotions, and compared to other heroes looks as a real hero. After all, the director of the film shows the real face of Tommy in the case with Peters Waters. So, almost at the end of the film, Tommy is seen driving in his car and picking up Peter, a young Afro-American carjacker who was hitch-hiking. Being in one car with an African-Americans man, Tommy finds out his own insecurity with other races, and shows it through his treatment of Peter and their quarrel. Tommy quickly becomes angry when he assumes that Peter is laughing at him and asks him to leave the car. Peter starts to reach in his pocket and Tommy shoots him dead, wrongly assumes that the black guy is looking for a gun. Here, we see Tommy as totally frightened, lost and cruel man. He throws out the body of Peter from the car to cover up the incident. Here the viewers understand that Tommy is not a positive character, neither are the rest. Finally Tommy burns his car, trying to hide his involvement in the shooting. Once more we understand that this film doesn’t have totally positive or totally negative characters, as all people are somewhere in the middle.
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At the same time, Officer John Ryan (Matt Dillon) shows his negative features from the very beginning of the film. He is a bigoted white police officer who is a partner of Officer Tommy Hansen. He is a rood, impolite, racist man who uses his social position and physically molests Christine (the wife of Cameron) under the pretense of looking for a gun after blaming Christine in performing fellatio on Cameron while he was driving a car. He molested the woman, thus humiliating her husband and forced him to apologize also. Watching this episode, the viewer feels disgust to the actions of the officer and him as a person. This makes his partner Tommy Hansen to believe in John’s racist tendencies. At the same time, Ryan is trying to find help for his father, who probably suffers from prostate cancer but whose treatment is ineffective. This shows him as caring and supporting person, but later he manifests his anger in prejudice. He manifests racist attitude towards an HMO employee who doesn’t allow his father visit a desirable doctor (Crash (2004 film) 2009). It is understood that his racial prejudices seem to go from the destructive impact that local positive action policies had on his father’s business. As Officer Hansen decides to patrol alone, so Ryan is partnered with a Hispanic-American with whom he finds common language. The end of the Ryan’s story is positive as we see him from a good side. He risks his life trying to save Christine (the woman he molested a day before) from the death in a terrible car wreck. The viewer comes to the conclusion that all characters combine positive and negative features, having no idealization.
For some reason, usually it is said that this film is about political correctness (as it received Oscar as the best film of 2005 (Beckman 45). However I am sure that “Crash” is not only about political correctness, and nor even really about its ugly flipside. This film is about difficulties of coexistence in a huge multi-national country. About how difficult it is for people to understand each other, especially if they are from completely different cultures and upbringing, and also about the tragic consequences of such failure. None of characters in “Clash” is a total villain or a hero. Almost every one of them is an ordinary person with all his advantages and disadvantages. Thus, the film almost doesn’t have uniquely right or guilty characters (Fevang 2006).
The film consists of several smaller stories that are united by one theme: how people behave in extreme situations: crime, shootings, car crashes. The film “Crash” is an incredible intertwining of destinies of characters and original story. How is it possible to separate good from evil, a shadow from the light? It is probably impossible, as in the film “Crash,” it is impossible to determine who of the main characters is bad, and who is good. All of them make us think about our lives and society we live in.
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