The Paper Chase
This film displayed no real central conflict. At best, the backdrop of a stress induced Harvard school life was the major conflict of this film. I don’t really understand what the film’s central theme meant though. To the best of my observations, it seems to be a complete mess of clichés and random melodrama.
The film’s depiction of Hart’s friends as aggressive and uncompromising seemed pointless and stupid. Perhaps the director was trying to portray the macho atmosphere of Harvard Law School. I assume the director was trying to depict the stress of paperwork and chasing after a good grade but the message felt redundant. To be frank, if the film is going to depict the life of Harvard Law School then I fully expect this stressful environment over getting good grades. In fact, I expect that atmosphere in most coming-of-age school stories that aren’t related to the horror genre and aren’t about bullying. To my disappointment, after the initial introductions, the characters seem to become cartoon clichés.
The character of Susan is just bizarre from the beginning to the end. She is apparently fleeing from some anonymous stranger, is willing to have sex with Hart after meeting him the night before, and she appears to only fit the role of some poorly strewn together moral teaching that is either so obvious that it’s terrible or so subtle that I’ve been duped into thinking a subtly brilliant film is of poor quality. There is no mention of them making up after she rejects him so an important part of their relationship seems to be ignored. Worse than that, the film seems to treat Hart’s entitled and self-absorbed attitude as normal and expected in a relationship. There is an implicit sexist double-standard that is hard for me to overlook because it sets a dangerous precedent. Susan fits the Hollywood trope of talking only about men in her life and nothing else.
Hart’s strange obsession with Kingsfield seems to miss whatever message that the movie was attempting to make. The last scene between the two is Kingsfield appearing indifferent to Hart’s praise and thanks. However, I had assumed that, during the grading scene, it was revealed that Kingsfield was simply an introvert and not good at expressing his emotions. Regardless of whatever meaning or purpose between Hart’s opinions throughout the film and Kingsfield’s actions; the entire relationship seemed to become utterly pointless once Hart threw his grades into the ocean. I assume that his image standing on the massive rock was supposed to thematically symbolize his triumph. Yet, I felt the entire movie became pointless once he chose to throw the envelope away. Why depict a film about struggles and hard work only for nothing to come of it because the main character quits after his success?
Was the message perhaps symbolic of wealthy careers being boring, stressful, and dangerous? Was it implying that attaining wealth makes people cold-hearted and distant? Are we to despise ourselves as college students for seeking greater knowledge? Are our professors wrong because their jobs might be stressful?
If that is indeed the message, then this film is depicting an irrational and ignorant point of view. Many CEOs, professors, government employees, and others choose their careers out of enjoyment and learn to enjoy the stress because their jobs feel worthwhile to them. Why is accepting the difficulties of life wrong? Why should seeking challenging opportunities be wrong?
In the end, that is the core feature of all high profile careers. They are the most challenging and most rewarding opportunities that we as society have constructed. For all the condemnation of the wealthy elite, they still work harder and they’re more knowledgeable than the average person regarding their specific fields of expertise. The average business executive works approximately 72 hours a week and the average U.S. Congressmen works approximately 60 to 70 hours a week. Does this shock anyone? Ignorant stereotypes are for the repugnant canaille who seeks constant self-exaltation to satisfy the mistake of choosing impotence over knowledge. If you disagree, then please answer the following: What does one gain from not following their passion just because it was too stressful? Are they not left in a state of impotence because they’ve selected fear and laziness over knowledge and aspirations? We all, through our choices, create our own world and live under the power of those who have chosen higher aspirations and struggled for them. The ignorant delusion of daddy’s money helping the wealthy elite is dispelled once you take an in-depth analysis of their lives and once you knowledge the fact that they’re still working around 72 hours a week to maintain those positions. The Paper Chase’s underlying message is a farce and typical of Hollywood’s ignorant messages. Perhaps, during some glorious day in the future, we will have a film industry that actually caters to the intellectual elite and not the sore losers of American society.