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Crash The Movie

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The movie Crash, created by Paul Haggis, incorporates the many struggles faced by today's racial stereotypes, into a collage of various interconnected, cultural dilemmas encountered by the film's multi-ethnic cast. Paul Haggis uses the dialogue and physical actions of his characters to illustrate the various racial stereotypes that are pre-assigned to each race by every individual. This film is a mesmerizing physical melodrama that touches the emotions of its audience's hearts and souls. Many of the elements delivered by Haggis in this film are portrayed in extreme pairs. This pattern of opposites is conveyed by his protagonist and antagonistic characters, the movie's either night or day setting, and also in the snow and fire scenes. In this film, Haggis reveals to the world the diverse roles played by the many races of modern America. Through blatantly racial problems faced by his characters, Haggis creates a deliberately disturbing film that forces his audience to question their own moral values. Each race is represented throughout the movie and blatantly displays racial discrimination and ethnocentrism. Paul Haggis incorporates the use of identification, parallel plots, reaction shots, point-of-view shots, shot/reverse shots, diegetic music, and post-modern film in the film. Through his character development, editing and special effects we are drawn into the hectic world of Los Angeles.

Haggis created several different characters in this film, but they are all connected in some way. Similar to the way Christopher Nolan presented the film Memento, Haggis shows the last scene of the movie first. With this style, the audience focuses more on the important development of the story instead of the ending of it. Most of Haggis's characters are delivered as both the victims and creators of the racism surrounding them. A love-hate relationship that is created between the characters and the audience is what delivers the film's sad and ominous tone. Another factor that contributes to the tone of the film is the diegetic music, sound played in the film that the characters cannot hear. The music in Crash is a soft and slow, and much of the time the lyrics are in a foreign language. The strongest example of the love-hate relationship is that of Officer Ryan (Matt Dillon) and Officer Hanson (Ryan Phillippe). Throughout the movie Officer Hanson is portrayed as the good, white, male police officer, and Officer Ryan is portrayed as the bad, white, male police officer. Officer Hanson is striving to steer clear of being racist and discriminatory. For example, in one scene Officer Ryan makes an unnecessary traffic stop an African-American couple. Officer Ryan proceeds to humiliate the woman (Thandie Newton) with a full body search, while her husband (Terrance Howard) is forced to stand by powerless. In this scene we get several shots from the husband's point of view, we see the assault of his wife from his position and perspective. These shots are considered point of view shots. By using his position of authority, Officer Ryan instills a sense of powerlessness into both the husband and wife. This scene creates a pure hate towards Officer Ryan. After this scene, the rest of the film builds its intensity with many more examples of racial dilemmas.

Further along in the film we see the same bigoted police officer and the same African-American woman, Christine. We see a car crash; inside an overturned car is Christine. Haggis uses a reaction shot to show us Christine's emotion of the accident. A reaction shot shows a character's response to an event. The first responding officer is to the accident is Officer Ryan, the same man who took advantage of this woman the night before. However, now the audience sees a change in both characters. Christine is no longer the mouthy assertive woman she was when she was pulled over. She is terrified, her life is in jeopardy, and the only person who can possibly save her is the one man she despises the most, Officer Ryan. In this scene Haggis uses identification, a process in which we empathize with a character. At first, she understandably refuses his help, but when she realizes that her situation is growing increasingly dangerous she has no choice but to accept his aid. What follows is a powerful and moving scene. The officer asks permission to unbuckle her seatbelt which means that the two would have to make close contact. He is no longer the man we know from the previous scene, he is not looking at this woman as black but as a victim whom he needs to save. Even further fueling his drive to help her, as the situation becomes dangerous for him, is the memory of what he had done to her. He puts his life on the line for this woman, and with only seconds until the car explodes and kills them both, he frees this woman, whose life he has turned upside down, and saves both of their lives.

Having been made uncomfortable over the incident between Officer Ryan and Christine, the seemingly more liberal and understood Officer Hanson changes his partner. At this point, Officer Hanson seems compassionate and insecure, and through changing his partner he in a way redeems himself for staying silent during the incident. After hearing of his former partner's move, Officer Ryan says to him "Just wait until you've been on the job a little longer. You think you know who you are? You have no idea." This statement means that the more Officer Hanson is exposed to, the more hardened he will become. Of course this line foreshadows the harrowing events to come. Both officers are faced with more difficulties and hardships, each dealing with or stemming from some sort of racism and discrimination. In another scene, we are again confronted with two familiar characters. This time it is Officer Hanson and Christine's husband, who is thoroughly disturbed by the incident with Ryan. In this scene, the husband is confronted by carjackers who he consequently kidnaps and takes on a high speed chase. The chase ends when the man is confronted by the police officers, two of whom are Officer Hanson and his new partner. At this point, the man is armed and mentally unstable, and the situation seems as though it could turn into a tragedy in seconds. Officer Hanson reinforces the notion that he is a "good guy" by deeming the man as a friend to his colleagues until he is able to talk him back into the car. The man drives away with a new confidence, a diminished fear of white authorities, and a new sense of self.

Later, the audience sees Officer Hanson again. This time, he is off duty and spots an African-American man in need of a ride. Like the nice guy that the audience has come to know and love, Officer Hanson picks the man up and takes him into his car. They drive and make small talk, but Officer Hanson seems to grow increasingly

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