How Unhappy One Might Make Himself? Movie Review Example

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Movie Review

Human creative art described various themes, but there is probably no more arguable and indefinite theme in art than human happiness and subsequent reasons for unhappiness. Although generally accepted truth states that each individual is miserable in his own way and that people are happy in one way, the reality shows entirely different tendency – each person finds happiness in different things and their combination on certain stage of life. The same refers to human unhappiness and self-imposed misery. The aim of the present essay is to conduct review of four movies in their respect to theories explaining human unhappiness. In this regard, “A Street Car Called Desire” (1951), “Citizen Kane” (1941), “Death of a Salesman” (1949) and “Mildred Pierce” (1945) are analyzed in the framework of unhappiness theories developed by Abraham Maslow, Sigmund Freud, William Glasser and Stuart Mill.

In “A Street Car Called Desire”, the reason for unhappiness of the main heroine Blanche and people surrounding her is the internal conflict between inner animalistic self and socially acceptable behavior or gender role playing as it was described by Sigmund Freud. In this context, Blanche is doomed to unhappiness because her inner sexual desires unfulfilled in the short-termed marriage found no actual realization in the life and resulted in insecurity and involvement with under-aged student. Her suppression of the inner self, desire to be herself and to be different made her change the environment, but it did not resolve her problem. From Freud’s perspective, the denial of personal sexuality and inner desires, their suppression by social norms and conditionality of gender roles make people either to ignore personal needs and follow acceptable social path or to rebel. In both cases, inner or external conflict is born. The reason why the conflict appears between Blanche and Stanley is that they show different sides of coping with inner animalistic desires – she rebels and he follows his role of male predator imposed by society. So in order for him to be happy with himself and his role, he had to submit her to his masculine predator nature and rape her. The unhappiness was in inconsistency of sexual desires expression in the gender-role-structured society.

In “Citizen Kane”, the Glosser’s choice theory is applicable. The reason why Kane could not find happiness in his adulthood was because since their poor family managed to become rich, he was denied satisfaction of emotional satisfaction in interpersonal relations.  Since his mother, as part of his imaginary ideal world distanced from him when money appeared in their life, he continued to do the same with all the people in his life. That is why he divorced twice. From Glosser’s perceptive, the main reason of unhappiness is disorder in interpersonal relationship with people dearest to an individual. Although an individual is considered to be responsible only for thinking and acting, and not for feeling and his physiological states; through all his life, Kane was  keeping the gap between himself and people in order not to get hurt and abandoned. Through all his actions of control and power, he was showing the desire to regain joy of simple life, something wealth and power had taken from him in the childhood. That is why, when he was dying, the happiest moment of his life was connected with the image of the sled, symbolizing the innocence of childhood and simplicity of human happiness in being together with beloved ones.

In “Death of a Salesman”, the reason of unhappiness can be explained through Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, suggesting that, in order for an individual to be happy, he should be self-realized in all five dimensions: physiological, safety, love/belonging, esteem and self-actualization. In case of Willy Loman, the last three spheres were completely out of order. First of all, he had no self-realization in the position he was holding; it had no potential career growth. He could not even manage to get better conditions of work, which could allow him to spend some time at home. Secondly, he lost both self-esteem and esteem of his family – one of the crucial reasons for his decision to commit suicide was his eldest son’s statement that they both were just ordinary people and not meant for anything grandiose. It was probably more painful not to lose personal esteem but to understand that your children were of the same opinion and that they were going to follow your steps and end up in the same situation. In this regard, the final element of his unhappiness and failure was lack of stable family environment. Although his family was giving him all possible love and support, the guilt for Biff’s lack of respect and desire to achieve more in life was killing Willy more than anything else. Thus, it can be assumed that the true reason of his unhappiness was guilt and disappointment with Biff’s poor accomplishments. The proof of this statement is that younger son named Happy decided to follow father’s will and become a businessman.

Unlike unhappiness of Willy Loman, the reason for unhappiness of Mildred Pierce is not just money matters and her first husband’s loosing job, but money-driven and incredibly selfish nature of her elder daughter Veda. In this context, Mill’s theory of pleasure is applicable. Happiness is viewed as an absence of pain and displeasure, but pleasure is not only in material benefits of the body but in the intellectual satisfaction of individual’s desires. In this regard, the reason for Mildred’s unhappiness is inconsistency between her and her daughter’s value systems. Irrespective of Mildred’s maternal instinct and all the sacrifices she made for Veda, she could not get any satisfaction of their relationship mainly because her daughter was on lower level of pleasures satisfaction than Mildred.  Veda could not be satisfied with anything, because she was driven by deformation of the animalistic satisfaction of desires – human desire of having everything at the same moment. In this context, the end of the movie showed that happiness beyond the continuality of material possessions is possible only in case if two people share the same value system and understand that their relationship is beyond any material values; that it is simply precious and unrepeatable.

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