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Road to Perdition - Movie Review Example

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If one thinks Road to Perdition guarantees a slam-bang-guns-a-blazin'-cars-explodin'-rollickin' good time, that person would be in for a major disappointment. Road to Perdition is, instead, a dark, brooding action tragedy that touches on some very relevant questions in ethics…
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Road to Perdition
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Road to Perdition

Download file to see previous pages... The movie is based on a graphic novel of the same title by Max Allan Collins.
Depression-era Chicago serves as the perfect period in which to set the story of Road to Perdition. The stark grittiness of the early 30's best illustrates and complements the troubled nature of Road to Perdition's story. It provides a backdrop where gangsters rule and where death is an everyday business.
The story is set in 1931, which is considered an in-between era since it is a different world from three years before and three years after. Albert Wolsky, costume designer for the film even found it hard to find existing clothes to match the era Michael Sullivan lived in since the 1930's is sandwiched between the flamboyance of the 20's and the fashionable gangsterism of the mid 30's. The early 30's was a time of austerity and depression, and the spirit of this era snugly fits the film's premise. The film, through an excellent use of the era, imposes a heavy, dark cloud of depression on its viewers which only briefly diffuses during the scenes between Sullivans Sr. and Jr. near the end of the movie.
Technically and aesthetically, Road to Perdition excels. The film is a wonderful tour de force of some of the most notable figures in directing, acting, scoring, and cinematography. Sam Mendes (American Beauty), in his interpretation of the film, added to the depth of the conflict by using ingenious presentation methods. For example, to emphasize the gap between Michael Sullivan's Jr. and Sr., he employed a method that had both characters talk through obstacles like mirrors and doorposts. This had the effect of alienating both characters from each other since they had to communicate with each other indirectly. Later on in the film, Mendes uses close crops of both characters to symbolize a new found openness towards each other. The way Mendes presents each scene is subtle yet meaningful - a truly subconscious treat.
Unfortunately, this may have backfired on many of the viewers, as there has been the comment that the movie left many of the viewers alienated and cold too. It may be that Mendes' plan worked a little too well.
The story of Michael Sullivan and his son takes place mainly during winter. The eerie frozen landscape has a telling effect on the movie's plot. Mendes says the snow "symbolizes a frozen world... frozen in the emotional sense. It's a paralyzed family until the father and oldest son are thrown together by tragedy, and they begin to have the relationship they never had before. So out of the bad comes good, and everything that was intended to be set in ice at the beginning begins to thaw."(qtd. in "Road to Perdition Synopsis")
The first thing to catch one's attention upon watching this film is the gorgeous cinematography by Conrad Hall. Hall is a master of mood and lighting, and it shows in his work on Road to Perdition. He makes good use of snow and the broke-down alleyways to convey a sense of despair in the film. The viewer gets the impression that beneath the paleness of the snow lies tension that has to be let loose.
The film also uses washed out colors to give an aged look. This, in a way, authenticates the period which the film is based on.
In one scene, Hall makes clever use of light shining through rained-upon windows to give the impression that the room is weeping. It would be observed that he does not use sweeping views of the backdrop. Instead, he uses pensive shots that are starkly beautiful.
The screenplay by David ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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