Most people are born with good hearts, but as they grow up they learn prejudices. “Crash” is a movie that brings out bigotry and racial stereotypes. The movie is set in Los Angeles, a city with a cultural mix of every nationality. The story begins when several people are involved in a multi-car accident.
Several stories interweave during two days in Los Angeles involving a collection of inter-related characters, a police detective with a drugged out mother and a mischief younger brother, two car thieves who are constantly theorizing on society and race, the white district attorney and his wife, a racist cop and his younger partner, a successful Hollywood director and his wife, a Persian immigrant father, a Hispanic locksmith and his young daughter. As the movie progresses each character goes through a life changing event that changes their whole perspective.
Paul Haggis shows these changes not only through the character’s actions but the mood tone, music, and settings of the movie as well. Paul Haggis introduces the theme of the movie right from the beginning with the very opening line. The opening shots are of headlights and rainy windshields with a voice in the background saying “In LA nobody can touch you, always hiding behind this metal and glass. I think we miss that touch so much we crash into each other just so we can feel something. ” Next we see the black police detective with his Columbian partner in the car as a fireman walks over and asks if they are alright.
They were in a multi-car collision. The Columbian woman then gets out of the car and walks over to the other woman who is Chinese. The Chinese woman begins screaming “Mexicans don’t know how to drive. She blake to fast. ” The detective replies with “Maybe if you saw over the steering wheel you’d blake too. ” The male detective then gets out of the car and we are shown a crime scene and a lone puma shoe. This opening scene in which the credits are shown is an important part in relevance to the title and to the overall theme of the movie.
Here the director introduces the topic of racism as well as the mood of the film. The director uses a steady face level shot as the camera moves through each character, seeing each one’s anger at the other with dark background colors and soft playing intense music in the background. In this movie the order in which the scenes are presented is most important because it reveals each character’s story and shows how each story collides with one another and then the resolution resulting from the collision. Paul Haggis presents each scene the same.
Each scene is shown in dull, plain colors drawing all emphasize to the colors of the characters. The entire movie has the same sad, depressing music tone that intensifies as each thing happens in that scene. Each scene also abruptly ends and starts right into another, colliding all the scenes together. All of this is symbolic of the movies theme. The scenes are set the same showing the similarities between each character’s lives, stressing there are no differences and showing how all their lives collide. After the credits and the opening murder scene the story cuts immediately back to a scene from two days earlier.
A Persian speaking his native language walks into a gun store and is taking a while. The man tells him to plan his attack later and then calls him Osama. He gets angry and begins yelling back in English and the man tells him to leave. His daughter who is with him then asks the man to just sell her the gun and bullets for it so she can leave. He asks what kind and she asks for the red box and the audience is never told what kind of bullets they were. Anthony and Peter are leaving a restaurant and walking down the street surrounded by bright white Christmas lights and white buildings.
Anthony is not very happy about the service he received in the restaurant. “How many cups of coffee did we get? ” asks Anthony. Peter then reminds him that Anthony does not drink coffee and Peter did not want any. Anthony then points out that the waitress was pouring cup after cup to every white person around us, not offering the two black men any. Then Peter brings up the fact that their waitress was black. Anthony points out that just because she is black, does not mean that she fails to see in stereotypes. He argues that she did not serve them because she assumed they would not tip well.
So Peter says, “Well how much did you tip her? ” In his defense Anthony claims that with that kind of service, why should he tip? By doing this, Anthony is just contributing to the cycle of discrimination. She decides not to serve him like everyone else, so he does not tip her. She is then proven right in her assumption and the cycle continues. Then a white man and woman (the Los Angeles District Attorney and his wife) walk past them in the street, and as soon as the woman sees the two black men her arm almost automatically clings to the side of her husband.
They then pull out their firearms and approach the couple, robbing them of their SUV at gunpoint. By acting the way they did they proved the woman correct in her assumption. In this scene Haggis shows only face shots so that each characters emotion is revealed by their face. The Los Angeles District Attorney’s wife is freaking out at her husband because they have a Mexican locksmith changing their locks. She tells her husband she would like the locks changed again in the morning because the “gangbanger” locksmith with the “prison tattoos” is going to sell their keys to one of his “homies”.
She then walks into the all white kitchen where the locksmith is replacing the lock. He gets up and places all the keys down on the counter in front of her and leaves without a word. Suddenly the movie reveals a new character, a white man, talking on the phone with a woman. He is asking about health care for his sick father but is not getting what he wanted. He then finds out the ladies name is Shanekwa and replies with a racist remark “Go figure. ” The audience then sees that man at night in his police uniform driving with his younger white partner.
The two officers receive a call about a stolen black Navigator, the suspects: two black males. Just as this call comes in a Navigator passes with a black male and a women. The older officer begins to pull out and the younger one tells him that it is not the right one and he knows that the suspects or plates do not match. The older officer replies with “they were doing something. ” He makes both the husband and wife get out of the car. He begins searching the women and puts his hand all the way up her dress to search then sexually violates her while the young officer barely searches the husband.
After this he explains he could have them arrested for public sexual activity saying that is what they were pulled over for. The husband apologizes and instead he gives them a warning acting as he is the nice guy. The entire scene the camera stays at eye level with each character so that emphasize is put on each characters reaction to the situation. The scene then ends with the image of a disgusted, scared look on the younger officer’s face and the image of only dark colors and the police sirens. A little girl hides under her bed. The locksmith walks in and asks what she is doing.
She tells him she heard a bang and he asks if she is afraid of that bullet that came through her window before. He then tells her a story about a magic cape a fairy gave to him that he was supposed to give to his daughter. He tells her it will protect her from guns and knives and she’ll never be hurt. She gets out from under the bed and lies on the top of her bed. Now the scene reveals all white colors showing her innocence and unprejudiced mind. Anthony and Peter are driving the stolen navigator once again discussing oppression and how white people oppress the black man.
Anthony not paying attention runs over a “Chinaman” with the stolen vehicle. The “Chinaman” gets stuck under the car and Anthony tries to convince Peter they should keep going and he’ll just let go. Luckily Peter convinces him that if the man could let go he would have a while ago. Finally Peter wins the Argument and they haul him from under the SUV, and kindly drop him on the soft concrete in front of the hospital emergency bay. The Persian looks after his store while the Mexican locksmith is fixing his lock. Once finished the locksmith tells him he fixed the lock but the door is broken.
The Persian starts yelling and calling the locksmith “cheater” thinking he is trying to cheat him to get more money out of him. The locksmith avoids conflict and tells him not to pay and walks out. The next day the Persian walks into his store to find he has been robbed and everything in the store destroyed. Along with it the word “RAG” was written all over the walls. On their way to Anthony’s actual car Peter says hello to a friend of his from down the street. Anthony critiques Peter’s choice in friends, muttering “Man robs purses from old ladies.
That nigger would steal teeth from a cripple, man”. Peter challenges Anthony to explain to him how what they do for a living is any different. The difference, Anthony justifies, is that he does not steal from his own people. Cameron’s (the Hollywood producer) wife shows up on set at his lunch break. She brings up what happened the night before and apologizes for yelling at him over what happened. She tells him she understands that there was nothing he could do and that what he did was right. She then tells him she just couldn’t stand there and watch the police “take away his dignity. He did not like this and he told her to go home and walked away. Here Haggis uses an up top shot to display the distance between them. Suddenly it cuts to a low camera angle showing all the damage and destruction on the floor of the Persian’s store. The insurance agent comes in and briefly explains it will not be covered by insurance because he did not fix the door like the locksmith said. As he is cleaning up his store he throws out all his garbage and remembers the locksmith had thrown the receipt out in the trash. He goes back to get it out so he could find the locksmith.
This is where the movie begins to move toward the climax and the audience sees each characters breaking point. Cameron’s wife is driving back home after fighting with Cameron and she gets in a car crash. The older white officer is on patrol with his new partner and sees the car accident. He gets out and runs up to the car. He then tells the lady to hold on and that he is going to help, she looks at him and sees that it is the same officer from last night and starts screaming at him not to touch her. She yells “someone help me anybody else. ” Here he sees the impact his actions had on her.
She would rather be stuck in pain than have him help her. He looks at the gasoline pouring from the car and tells her she will die if he doesn’t help her. He asks her then if can reach across her lap to undo her seatbelt and as he does he pulls down her dress making it clear those are not his intentions. The other car starts on fire and other officers rip him from the car while Cameron’s wife is still trapped. He gets away from them and runs back to the car and to pull her out. This scene right here shows the climax of the movie. Here both characters with the most obvious discrimination between each other overcome their differences.
Their lives collide together by a car crash and she ends up needing him to help her. The audience begins to see the development and change in characters’. This is also where each other story begins to intertwine together. Anthony and Peter find a new Navigator and approach the side of the vehicle to hijack it, and find that the soon to be victim is black. The victim is Cameron. Anthony does not even flinch as he attempts to pull the man out of his vehicle. He again bends his own rules to suit his own needs. Unfortunately, Cameron has been under a lot of pressure lately and decides he wants to fight back.
He knocks Anthony to the ground and begins to beat him. The police show up and Peter runs and gets away while Anthony and the other man race to the car for the driver’s seat. The other man wins and Anthony is forced to sit in the passenger seat. They both scream at each other to get out of the car as they look for a place to pull over, and when they do three cop cars are waiting behind them. This is where we truly see Anthony for who he truly is. Throughout the whole movie he talks big but when it is time for him to act he is caught hiding behind the passenger seat.
Anthony is too afraid to take matters into his own hands so the other man does it for him. He confronts the police officers and as Anthony watches this other man’s display of courage, the way he sticks his neck out for what he believes in, he realizes that he is not that kind of guy. This sudden realization weakens him, and for once he shuts up. He sits quietly as the other man drives him down the road and gives him the boot, but before he can go the man expresses his disgust when he says “You embarrass me… You embarrass yourself”. So far he has been an embarrassment to his own people, a misrepresentation.
Here Anthony realizes that stereotypes are created through people like him. He is now seeing the big picture and discovering that the way he acts reflects on people like him or people that are going to be put in the same category as him. The Persian drives to the Mexican locksmith’s house and waits for him to get home from work. He then walks up with a gun to the man and asks for all his money. His daughter sees the men pointing the gun at her daddy and says “he doesn’t have the magic cloak. ” She runs out to help him just as the man fires the gun.
The Persian’s daughter, however, had earlier loaded blanks into the gun so the girl remained unharmed. The Persian stepped back and realized what could have just happened. Here he comes to his realization that he was almost no different and he gets rid of the gun. Peter is trying to hitchhike. The young white detective sees him and picks him up. While driving Peter sees the St. Christopher statue he has on his dashboard and starts laughing. The officer thinks he’s laughing at him and pulls over to tell him to get out. Peter reaches in his pocket to show him that he had the same statue and the officer shoots him.
This scene shows his breaking point and how his life and his choices collided with everyone else’s actions and believes. He dumps Peter’s body in the valley and lights his car on fire. Anthony notices a white van parked on the side of the street with the keys in the ignition, does not get much more convenient than that. He takes the van to his employer and is shocked to find what it contained. In the back of the van sit about twenty Asian slaves, locked up and chained to the van. His employer offers Anthony $500 for each slave with plans to sell them for profit.
The new Anthony does the right thing, and he sets them free. This act of kindness shows how much he had changed from the man who earlier considered leaving a man to die on the street to the man who would give up thousands of dollars to ensure freedom for his fellow human beings. The film finally ends cutting back to the opening scene. We once again see the black detective stooping down next to his brother, Peter’s shoe. The scene then cuts out back into the same picture of just headlights and rain followed by another car crash, in which the same health insurance lady who was iscriminated toward in the beginning, gets out yelling at the Mexican not to talk to her unless he can speak English, and the cycle of discrimination continues. Through his choice of display and separate presentation of each character’s story, Haggis displays each character’s own personal perspective, as well as the impact of every situation on them as a person. He uses similar scene settings, lighting, scene transition, and music throughout the whole movie drawing all attention to the characters and their actions.
He presents his theme through each story showing how each person becomes prejudice and angry toward one another and at one point or another are all confronted by it. Each character realizes that in order to continue with their separate lives they must be able to interact and intertwine peacefully in each other’s lives. Works Cited Crash. Dir. Paul Haggis Perfs. , Sandra Bullock, Don Cheadle, Matt Dillion, Jennifer Esposito, William Fischtner, Brendan Fraser, Terrence Howard, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Thandie Newton, Ryan Phillippe, Larenz Tate, Micheal Pena. 2004. DVD. MMV Lions Gate Entertainment, 2004. ?