In any and every film or book you can think of, there are symbolic and technical codes mixed between the lines/scenes. The movie Pleasantville is no exception. Various forms of complexities are portrayed through the tiniest moments within the film and the clash of the real and the ideal ways of life are thoroughly submerged within the constructs of the movie as well as implications of the battles between whites and the colored as more than they appear. They say the grass is always greener on the other side is taken a bit more into the literal sense as a major concept in the film.
David, one of the protagonists, seems to be drenched in his reality wanting nothing more than to escape into the ideal world of Pleasantville. A few minutes into the movie David is going through the motions of the day; lying on his couch watching TV; when his mom’s conversation on the phone drifts into the room causing a rift in the calm and collected atmosphere created by the black and white sitcom Pleasantville. The direct juxtaposition of environments is represented greatly at this point; the truth of reality bombarding the idealistic society with problems that would never possibly be experienced in the perfect world of Pleasantville.
The straightforwardness of reality and the somber attitude of David signifies his unhappiness towards reality and all that is in color, while he stares at the TV repeating the words of the show to exhibit his distaste for reality but yearning for the ideal. The filmmaker uses contrast, not only show the perspective of this, but to inhibit a feeling of reflectance towards such a common point-of-view in the traditional society. Likewise the filmmaker also uses symbolic concepts within the scenes of contrast.
Specifically in the scene proceeding Jennifer’s (aka Mary Sue’s) rendezvous in Lovers Lane with Skip, where she defaces the purity of a teenage mind, when all of a sudden there is color in the world of black and white. That one rose, bright and red, shows the start of something new signifying a change; the first domino that fell causing all the rest to follow. This holds a world of significance. It not only shows that change but incorporates the idea of beauty in the unknown.
The extravagance of all that is unusual which is normally viewed as abominable towards this modern society that is afraid of anything different. Furthermore there is a combination of these two concepts of allegoric symbolism and the denotative perceptions of segregation underneath the foundation of the movie. As soon as that one little rose progresses into entire body parts, persons, and even landscapes it becomes a problem although there is no true legitimate logic behind the judgment of these changes.
Those whose traditions remain intact begin to alienate those that have alternated their ideals. For example, the new rules banning colored paints, the refusal of ‘colored’ persons in stores, and the isolation of all things colored, calls onto larger ideas that were at play during the same time frame as the Pleasantville society (the 1950’s). During that time in the reality of the United States, African-Americans had already been legally given rights yet they continued to have to fight for true liberty EXACTLY like every person that wasn’t black-and-white in the film.
The power struggle between the whites and the colored causes a sense of strife, pride, and victory once everything has been overcome in the courtroom and they exit to find the once black-and-white world of Pleasantville brilliantly colorful; victorious blaring of trumpets saluting us onward and the world is no longer plagued with these inequalities that have set us back so many times before. Strife for the overcoming of the problems that arise when anyone is different because we can all relate, and pride because we are no longer oppressed by those that are afraid to live and experience.
We are all free from the judgment. Free from the cookie cutter expectations. Simply free to be free. Pleasantville’s representation of societies previously analyzed issues as well as their views were aided through his usage of symbolic and technical codes dispersed amidst the film. The everyday examples of the mediocre life of two teeneagers turned completely upside down and the areas of racism and segregation promote the filmmakers expression to the audience that is intended to make you feel and see more than is actually said and done.