Appearance vs. reality explores how the more persistent illusion will triumph over what the individual want to be true. While reality is persistent, appearance it is less convincing as it based upon the fragile network of an individual’s values, expectation and deepest desires. Pleasantville (1998) directed by Gary Ross examines this idea through the protagonist who escapes his troubles and unforgiving reality to Pleasantville; a fake world that reflects his utopic vision and 1950’s American society.
Similarly Robert Frost’s poem “Birches” shows no matter how hard he tries to escape his reality to a better illusion he was made for himself, reality is persistent and will always bring him back. In Pleasantville the idea that reality will triumph over appearances is shown by David’s negative view of his family and yearning for the family he sees in Pleasantville.. The appearance that David sees in Pleasantville is peace, calm, relaxing and great but in his reality it is the opposite of Pleasantville as he has difficult problems with his family.
This is shown by of contrast of the perfect family living the American Dream in Pleasantville compared to David’s own family. The montage of shots of all the members of Bud’s family in Pleasantville contrasts heavily to the empty and wide shot of David and just his mother, emphasising how his family is so different from his ideal family on Pleasantville. Although David wants to become part of Bud’s family, he realises this is just an illusion based on his desires.
This is clear when he realises Bud’s family isn’t as perfect as it seems through the uncomfortableness he feels with the repetition of the word “swell” to describe what he thinks is good and returns to his persistent illusion of his real family, his mother. Reality is shown to be the more persistent illusion through the corruption of values in Pleasantville. Jennifer instigates the corruption of Pleasantville by bringing in values and practices of her reality to the untainted illusion of Pleasantville.
When Jennifer has sexual intercourse with skip on Lover’s Lane, there is a change in the scenery shown in the close up shot of the grey rose turning into a bright red. The previous monotone colours represent…. And the red represents….. This shown that reality is more persistant than the illusion of appearance as…. FILL IT IN! Another example is shown through when Betty sees Mr. Johnson for the first time and she starts to feel different from seeing him. The technique that is used is contrast of colour and grey background. The wife changes as she ealise her true feelings, and it is this persistent emotion that overcomes her role as the faithful wife in the American Dream. This shows the wife is being seeing her true feeling and her true reality from Mr. Johnson, ultimately breaking the illusion of appearances . Similarly, in Frost’s “Birches”, reality is illustrated as persistent reality that will triumph over any illusions of appearances but does this through the poet who reminisces about his childhood past with the birches tree. The poet feels a strong connection with the illusion he has made of the birches as a sentimental figure of his past time.
He does this by portraying birches during the autumn time as ”like girls on hands and knees who throw their hair before them… to dry in the sun”. The personification combined with simile to reinforces the illusion the poet has created from his expectations and desires. However,. reality attempts to bring the poet back from his constructed illusion that has been “shattered and avalanched…. [reduced to] broken glass to sweep away”. This is emphasised by the “black” branches surrounding the “snow white trunk”.
The black branches symbolise the persistent illusion of reality trying to bring him back to what is more real surrounding the white trunk that symbolises the dying purity and untainted illusion he has created of the birches, showing that reality is more persistent than appearances. Unlike Pleasantville, where David does not want to return to the persistent callings of his reality , the poet in “Birches” realises that although he can visit his “heaven” using his childhood memory of the birches, he would “then come back to it [earth] and begin all over”.
The nostalgic tone emphasises that he cannot go back to his illusion of appearances as he recognises the reality is more persistent. Through the close study of the Ross’s “Pleasantville” and Frost’s “Birches” it is clear that reality is more persistent than appearances. Pleasantville shows the corruption of values and the perfect family based on the American dreams to shows how reality will triumph over appearances similarly “Birches” uses the poet reminisces that frost can visit his appearance but when he returns to his reality he understands that reality is the more persistent one.
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