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Pleasantville, which is extremely well crafted and beautifully acted, must
also be categorized as one of the most irresponsible films of our time.
Gary Ross, who previously wrote Dave and Big, both of which were excellent
comedies as well as being timely moral statements, has now crossed the
Not in filmic terms, but in morality.
It's obvious that Ross is making a statement about the inherent freedom within everyone from Adam and Eve right down to people within the world of television. This is a beautiful statement, one that should be lauded. But it is also one that should be tempered with responsibility and reason.
Tobey Maguire plays the proverbial Adam, a boy that loves everything to do with the 'pleasant' world of forties and fifties television, until he and his sister, Reese Witherspoon who plays the also proverbial Eve, are zapped into the television world of Pleasantville.
In this world, everything is black and white, until Eve feeds the apple to an unsuspecting boy. As his desire is aroused, color appears in the world. Soon, all the kids are doing it...literally, at the ridiculously named 'Lover's Lane'. More and more color appears, and yet, strangely enough nobody gets pregnant.
The mother of Adam and Eve, played by Joan Allen, is Mrs. Cleaver to a 'T', until her daughter teaches her about sex. After having been taught, the mother proclaims that the father would never to THAT, to which the evil Eve says, "There are other ways to find pleasure." To the mother, this means more than just masturbating in the bathtub. She leaves her home and family without even speaking with her husband and the only after math that we see is that food is not on the table.
In the end, the normal people of Pleasantville must somehow come to terms with the 'coloreds'. But what of consequence? The only true evil in the film comes by way of the males who refuse to partake in the world of color. They burn books, rape women, and are generally Hitler-esque.
In Ross's world, color means free will. The freedom to do whatever you please. This is truly an amazing thing that human beings possess, but this gift we have is tempered by the fact that we have consequences for every action that we indulge in.
In Pleasantville, there are no consequences.
In the ancient allegory, when Adam and Eve were cast out of the 'black and white' Garden of Eden, they were sent into the world we know too well. A world of hardship, but certainly a beautiful world.
Nobody dies in Pleasantville before and after color appears, there are no accidents, no mishaps, with unprotected rampant sex comes no disease, no pregnancy, no remorse...no sense. With the pleasure, there is no pain.
Someone said, "How can we know the sweet without tasting the bitter?" Gary Ross will show you.
Pleasantville is like the allegory of Adam and Eve cast UP from the Garden of Eden straight to heaven... So why are we here at all?