The Complexity of Happiness, Movie Review Example

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Movie Review

One of the most complicated questions an individual can ask is what happiness is and how it can be achieved. From one perspective, scholars try to prove that happiness is the same for all people and presence of certain combinations of favorable components like economic stability, health and comfortable interpersonal relations in this or that extent contribute to the happiness of every individual. On the other hand, reality shows that although happiness of any individual depends on those matters and their combinations, the importance of each factor various from an individual to an individual. The aim of the present paper is to analyze the importance of interpersonal relationship in individuals’ pursuit of happiness on the examples of four movies: “Valley of the Dolls” (1967), “Norma Rae” (1979), “Rocky” (1976) and “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” (1967).

In the “Valley of the Dolls”, all female characters placed the main emphasis on their careers as the only possible way of happiness pursuit. In this regard, interpersonal relations were put on the second place and were viewed only as additional element of career development, but not as essential element of happiness and life satisfaction in general. Particular feature of the movie is that, irrespective of the fact that each woman developed her career in a different way and had different success like Neely and Anne achieving the top of actress and model careers and Jennifer marrying nightclub singer, each woman failed to achieve happiness and personal completeness. In all cases, the root of failure was lack of attention to the interpersonal relations with other people and men in particular. By placing emphasis on professional success as a source of happiness, those women exchanged success for women’s pleasure of being together with the beloved ones and happiness of motherhood. In this regard, although those women viewed relations being secondary in their pursuit of happiness; in reality, absence of functional relationship was the reason of their failure and substitution of reality with drugs. The main difference between male and female attitudes to relationship in this movie is that men were more consumptive and utilitarian in their relation with those women mainly because women let them act in that way, since they did not take relationship seriously themselves.

Entirely different perspective of viewing the matter of happiness and relationship is shown in “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying”. In this movie, the ideal formula of individual’s happiness is shown in its development. In this regard, the window cleaner Pierpont Finch gradually understands that ruthless and merciless career-building in the corporation is not as tempting and all-winning as his new relationship with the secretary Rosemary Pilkington, who believed in him before he managed to achieve high positions with cunning and not doing any work. The central idea of the movie is that interpersonal relationships are more important for personal happiness and individual success than any money which a high position can give to an individual. On the other hand, Finch’s final happiness is shown in balance of career accomplishment, personal self-esteem and ambition through telling the truth and his successful relationship with Rosemary, who continued to warship him and believe in his ability to achieve anything. From the happiness achievement perspective, although initially Finch paid little attention to the meaning of relationship, later he understood that without Rosemary’s love and support all his career-building efforts were useless. Thus, relationship turned to be more important than was initially sought. Unlike “Valley of the Dolls”, where women were making careers and neglected meaning of relationship in pursuit of happiness, in “How to Succeed…” men tried to develop their careers and women placed love and relationship on the first place. In this regard, it can be concluded that attitude to relationship does not depend on gender but on individuals’ perception of happiness and personal goals in life.

Another way to view relationship as means of achieving happiness is shown in movies “Rocky” and “Norma Rae”. In case of Rocky, relationship plays the role of a supportive element of personal self-estimation and subsequent happiness achievement. On the other hand, in case of Norma Rae, relationship and personal female happiness made the struggle for self-estimation more complicated because Norma could not get support of her struggle from her mate Sonny. Instead, Rocky had complete support of Adrian and her love as the most important thing in his life. Unlike the first two movies, Norma and Rocky did not separate their personal happiness from successful interpersonal relationship with their beloved ones but outlined the importance of relationship factor in the completeness of their happiness and meaning in the process of self-estimation. In other words, the other two movies addressed the issue of relationship not as alternative to career, self-estimation or specific goal achievement but as one of the elements of individual’s completeness and happiness.

In both cases, personal relations contributed to happiness of the main characters differing only in their consistency with victory/loss dichotomy. In this regard, Norma’s marriage with Sonny was contributing to the highness of stakes in her struggle for workers’ rights and was rather discouraging from the struggle itself. From this perspective, female struggle for self-estimation was more likely to threaten interpersonal relations and destroy fragile female happiness. In this context, her victory was the only way to preserve happiness in all its complexity. On the other hand, Rocky’s loss had no impact on his relationship with Adrian, mainly because, she was there for him no matter what; and her support and love mattered more than final victory. In other words, Rocky won both in his struggle for self-realization and respect of the beloved woman. The difference in victory/loss dichotomy shows the difficulty of female’s pursuit of happiness on the way of emancipation.

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