Good Essay About History
The Film “The Incredible Shrinking Man” (1957)
The Incredible Shrinking Man is a science fiction movie that displays the manner in which the protagonist, Robert Scott Carey experiences a process of shrinking due to over exposure from insecticide and radioactive clouds. Directed by Jack Arnold, this 1957 film further unfolds the historical times and events and the manner in which the protagonist has to adapt himself to a hostile environment.
The film depicts the manner in which William Grant, the actor, has difficulty in managing everyday objects as he keeps on shrinking. The manner in which the pet cat poses a threat to his tiny body and reversing roles in gender. As the movie gradually unfolds, his wife takes on the role of a mother and this displays a shift in the power balance to deeming the female to be supreme in this particular family (Cunnally, 3).
The film subtly displays the experiences of the Cold War that were synonymous in that period. The world did not change despite the atomic blasts in Nagasaki and Hiroshima, and this was shown by portraying the manner in which the Eifel Tower in Paris and the Empire State Building in New York. However, the film displayed the manner in which the common man viewed the world after the aftermath of the nuclear blasts in the twin cities of Nagasaki and Hiroshima and the manner in which political alliances underwent transformation after the World War II. This change in the opinion of the common man in America was displayed in the manner in which the protagonist gradually became a tyrant and behaved in a hostile manner to ensure his survival (Cunnally, 3).
The film mirrors the main features of isolation and alienation during the Cold War in the eyes of the main protagonist. The manner in which middle class individuals in America in the 1950s and 1960s demonstrated conformity in response to a probable threat of being taken over by the communist regime has been shown in this movie. The year 1957 especially portrayed tension between the two superpowers, USA and the then USSR. The intensity of the Cold War threatened the American middle class and this hostility and animosity has been shown in the movie The Incredible Shrinking Man.
Individuals find solace when they remain alike. However, Scott Carey experiences dissimilarity and thereby lacks friends, community and is driven to isolation. The film gradually reveals that although doctors manage to prevent Scott Carry from shrinking further, they are not able to change this new form (Cunnally, 5).
An important role is played by the pet cat in this movie. Butch, the pet animal is in the beginning regarded to be harmless. However, the cat gradually becomes a menace to Scott Carey as it threatens to harm him. The film may be viewed as a metaphor as it demonstrates the main protagonist, Scott Carey, to assume the role of the United States of America and Butch, the cat to play the part of the then Union of Soviet Socialist Republic.
Before the Second World War, there was a creation of non-functional and weak society in the then Soviet Union that considered the western nations as an ally. However, the country quickly gained power under the leadership of Joseph Stalin by the end of the Second World War and the Yalta Conference held in the year 1945 helped this nation to gain immense power as most of the Eastern European nations became a part of the then USSR (Cunnally, 5). The conservative party in America criticised the then President Franklin Roosevelt for conforming to this agreement. The political realignment of global power in the Yalta Conference that further led to a Cold War between USA and the then USSR has been depicted in this movie.
The movie depicts the cat to sit against Scott Carey’s legs and caress his owner. However, as the film proceeds the cat, Butch, gradually extends alliance with Louise. The film further shows Louise going to bed with the pet cat, Butch and leaving Scott Carey to rest in the sofa. This is the mirrored display of the Yalta Conference in which Carey is abandoned by his wife as she opts to go to bed with the pet cat, Butch (Cunnally, 5). The tensions that grew in the aftermath of the Yalta conference especially during subsequent talks held between the two superpowers in the year 1957 have been displayed in this movie. The anxiety of the common man has been portrayed in the form of Scott Carey.
The film turns momentum after Scott Carey lands into the basement thereby revealing a post-apocalyptic future. He becomes to defend himself, makes his own clothing, procures food and ensures that he has everything needed for survival. This violation shown by Scott Carey is a question on humanity because to separate oneself from the components of earthly survival means to alienate the societal matrix that is essential for the creation of human existence and recognition (Rosenheim, 18).
The film ends with Carey still shrinking and hence scholars are divided on their opinion on the ending of this movie. Some deem this movie to represent pessimistic viewpoint whereas others opine the movie to demonstrate the survivalist attitude of the Americans. However, the audience cannot treat this movie to portray a survivalist story as the life of Scott Carey in the basement suggests his entry into a metaphysical world. The film thus describes the survivalist attitude of the middle class Americans that depicts meaning and acceptance to come from the shortcomings of a patriarchal society (Cunnally, 9).
Cunnally, R. Mind over matter: mental evolution and physical devolution in The Incredible Shrinking Man. Journal of Popular Film and Television, 41.1(2013): 2 – 9. Print.
Rosenheim, S. extraterestrial: Science fictions in “A Brief History of Time” and “The Incredible Shrinking Man”. Film Quarterly, 48.4 (1995): 15 – 21. Print.
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