The Meaning of “Pleasantville”

What do you think is the purpose of the film “Pleasantville”? In other words, what do you think Gary Ross, the director is trying to say about the the world?


29 responses to “The Meaning of “Pleasantville”

  1. ‘Pleasantville’ has many purposes, but I believe that Gary Ross was trying to give a very brief representation of the last one hundred years. He shows what went wrong and how by the use of film conventions such as music, language and many more. He puts in little segments of the past one hundred years to try to confirm or challenge what we already thought of the time/people.
    For example how they show the burning of books as a direct representation of what the dictator Hitler did to society while he was in charge. This made me and many others think of the issue from the past and due to the music being so sympathetic the audience/me has no other choice to feel sorrow for the characters and for the people who had to tolerate Hitler. An example of a specific character resembling a person in reality would be Mr. Johnson. I see him as a creative mind that is shrugged from the community due to his paintings being too far ahead of his time. This I believe resembles artists like Picasso, Vincent Van-Gough, and so on.

  2. To me Pleasantville’s meaning is that change and accepting change is important in society. This is shown by the people of Pleasantville and their surroundings changing to colour instead of the normal black and white. This symbolises the idea of ‘moving forward’ the same way black and white t.v evolved to colour. This change is a natural occurance and the film portrays to its audience that it is a good thing and it should be embraced. A functioning society is one in which the people are on par with one another and Pleasantville shows this by the conflict between those in colour and those in black and white. Some may argue that Pleasantville is about racism but in fact the prejudice shown by the black and white people toward the coloured people was always inside them, there was just no coloured or different people for the prejudice to emerge.

  3. The director Gary Ross has created a utopia world which is Pleasantville and he juxtaposes this world with the modern world. He introduces us to the modern world at the beginning of the film and uses various techniques to position us to think of it has a depressing world. By doing this we can clearly see the difference between both worlds with Pleasantville seen as a more desirable place.

    Pleasantville turns out as a perfect world in the beginning but slowly we see the people for who they really are when there is other groups. Underneath all this happiness and pleasantness we are shown that they have this hatred built in within themselves. They just needed a group of people who were different from them.

    Gary Ross is trying to say that you can never have this Utopia kind of world, it just will not happen, because people have emotions they can not control if given the chance, you will always have a problem. Utopia is overrated and in the end we do not need to keep aiming to achieve it because it will just end up as a disappointment.

  4. I personally believe that the sole purpose of this film, is to inform the audience on how todays modern world, can make one dream of a better society, but how a sought utopia does not, and cannot exist. Todays world is fast paced, busy, stressful and at times dangerous. Growing up in this society, where typical teen culture consists of sex, school, and self indulgence, it is not wonder we saw David drowning himself in this so called world of perfect, known as ‘Pleasantville,’ and neglecting his troubled, broken, yet realistic surroundings. David viewed ‘Pleasantville’ as the the perfect life. Loving parents and family, a friendly, stable and stessless society, and not a real care in the world. I believe that once David is in the utopia he always dreamed of, he realizes that the entire town are basically wearing masks which they dont even know they are wearing. By this i mean that i nthis perfect and pleasant world, people are not in the least exposed to things that could spark their own hatred, neglect, or of course fear. the people of Pleansantville have literally nothing to worry about and from this they become these narrow minded beings with hardly any sense of self due to being so completely and utterly isolated from any fault or wrong in their ordered and ‘set in stone’ world. Ross executes this brilliantly. By the end of the film, i for one understand what Ross was trying to express with this film and what he wanted us to think about the world we live in. Ross is a realist. I believe he thinks that reality is is unescapable and indulging in dream and visions of a perfect world is not at all the way to face the troubles in our own lives, because utopia does not and cannot exist, because to grow and develop mentally as human beings we much have negatives in the world, and faults in our society, and things to disagree with, and without these unpleasant factors, we would be meaningless and our lives would simply be ordered, unexpressive, narrow minded and basically meaningless and pointless

    • Drew, films do not “inform”, newspapers do that. Precision of language is vital as it will lead you to responses that better reflect your understandings.

  5. The film, Pleasantville directed by Gary Ross portrays a utopian society which is constantly put up for ridicule and is compared to that of the modern world that Dave and Jen are from. The purpose of this visual text, in my perspective, is to inform the viewer that no society can be seen as a perfect society nor can it sustain this title. This is made evident through Pleasantville by use of colour change which is a clear symbol of racism and racial differences. It also holds also a very social purpose as it juxtaposes various ideas such as identities, family, lifestyle and deals with the coming of age of the characters such as Jen and how she realises that there is more to living then being a bad influence on virgins and do-gooders. The use of foreboding scenes and orchestral music identifies the change being made to the once depicted, utopia and transforms it into a liveable reality.

  6. Gary Ross’s version of Pleasantville has to be taken as a fable. There are too many unexplained motives and twists.
    Once you have suspended your disbelief, however, Pleasantville is a pleasant diversion, one that is filled with special effects that generate fascinating ideas.
    Ross is very clever when he re-enacts the fall of Adam and Eve, with a girl plucking a red apple from a black-and-white tree and tempting Bud. This is not heavy-handed symbolism; it’s tongue-in-cheek mind-play, suggesting that life is happier when it is not perfect: it’s best when there is silliness and even danger. Timeless and entertaining ideas, these, the stuff of good literature.

  7. I believe that the purpose of the film Pleasantville by Gary Ross is to show a satirical view of the social side. Ross has turned the sitcom TV show of Pleasantville from a once utopian world (perfect world) in to a modern day world which also now consists of colour. This all came about when David and Jennifer entered the show, and brought in change. This purpose of the film was to portray a view of a perfect world, which we as the audience know could not and never will exist. By the audience, the world of Pleasantville is brought about to be very boring and bland, until change occurs through the characters of Jennifer and David entering this show. Once change starts to be accepted, the boring people and activities of Pleasantville which are in black and white soon start to turn in to colour, and symbolism is brought out via these colours. At the same time, I believe that Ross is also trying to hold this world up for ridicule as we know that it is not possible to have a “perfect world”. Overall the purpose of this film is to change societies views on a utopia by making it satirical and holding it up for ridicule.

  8. The correlation that Ross has used in Pleasantville is to allege racism in entity with the comparison of color with black and white. We see this when David and Margaret are driving to lovers lane and a pink blossom drops onto David’s lap. This indicates awakening, which can be related to sex or consciousness. In essence the pink blossom that is carried in Pleasantville includes the sexual revolution, the civil rights movement and feminism ultimately representing political correctness in all its forms .But there are many aspirations for Pleasantville that Garry Ross has shown throughout the movie.
    Garry Ross depicts Pleasantville as a utopia, a place with disfigurement and deficiency in attribute Pleasantville could be viewed socially. This is challenged when Margaret picked the apple off the tree at Lovers Lane indicating the Garden of Eden, the first sin. This symbolizes that nothing in Pleasantville is immaculate and defect less. Ultimately Garry Ross has presented Pleasantville as a relation and comparison to the modern world in all measures.

  9. whitehouse1joshua2

    the film “pleasantville” was created by garry ross as a social purpose, the film represents the traditional perfect family, in a satiricle matter. the town pleasantvile has a surface layer, and that surface layer is the utopian world that david sees at the start of the movie, david uses the uptopian world of peasantville to escape from his own reality, wich is a broken family. As the movie proogresses david and the audience realise that pleasantville is a distopia, and that the truth is coverd up by the surface layer, which is that nothing goes wrong, everyone is happy, everything is in order. i think that garry ross is trying to explain and show to us that life is never perfect, and the imperfectios in life are the things that make society functional, they are the lessons in life, if everything was perfect no one woud learn, there would be no freedom, and eventually everything would turn upside down and go wrong, just lie in pleasantville, at the start pleasantville was functioning perfectly, then people started asking questions, and changes occoured, these changes are what tuned everything upside down because noone in P.V had xperienced they didnt kno what to do. i think the meaning of this film is to say that humans need things to go wrong, so we learn and grow by our mistakes.

  10. The movie Pleasantville is about our personal search for meaning. In watching the film, we are led to believe that both modern society and the society of “Pleasantville”, which both represent two distinct worldviews, have no inherent meaning. Thus stripped of their facade of significance, the movie demonstrates how only through a pluralistic, secularized and privatized society can we truly find pleasure. On the surface, both worlds seem to have some kind of way of pleasing us.

    In the modern society we have the access to technology, but what has given way (morals, kindness and general respect) In the Pleasantville society there are morals, respect for oneself and others. All this changes once Mary Sue introduces her lack of open morals (Sex) into “Lovers Lane” this then knocks onto her mother when she has an open sexual discussion.

    The purpose of the movie Pleasantville is to show that there are good and bad fractions in each era of time and that none (era’s) can say that there was a better place.

  11. In my opinion, the purpose of the film Pleasantville is to depict what would be considered a Utopia society; a society with no faults or worries. When we are first introduced to the Parker family, we as the audience immediately get the impression that they are “perfect”, and as a result they are functional and no conflict ever arises. The same goes for the rest of the town. The introduction of David and Jennifer, two typical modern day teenagers, allows the people of Pleasantville to discover sin, such as sex and violence. As a result, their black and white faces turn to colour. The town of Pleasantville is likened and somewhat symbolised as the Garden of Eden and the first sin; when Bud’s girlfriend plucks the apple from the tree and tempts Bud with it. Ross has used deliberate and tongue-in-cheek symbolism to suggest that life is better when it is not sterile and perfect. And ultimately, through all the sin that has been produced by the town, everything is in better shape at the end that what it was in the beginning.

  12. due to me missing all of last week and monday, i have not seen any of pleasantville but i intend to get a copy and catch up.

  13. Although there are many different ways of thinking about the film Pleasantville, directed by Gary Ross, the director’s purpose is based socially. Ross constructed Pleasantville as a satirical representation of human perfection, to reach out to its audience and challenge their attitude that everyone is perfect, and their value of living in a perfect world. Ross holds the utopia ideology up for ridicule by showing it is dysfunction in reality. In the original show which David watches, the word is perfect. In reality, however, when real people enter the world, the innocent people of Pleasantville are ridiculed along with the aspiration for a perfect world, because this world is boring.
    The purpose which Ross is trying to get across is that there is no such perfect world. He uses lighting and colour in the film effectively to represent a boring version of a community, ridiculing itself as an uninteresting community and life style is not perfect at all. The world of Pleasantville at any time is only boring and innocent, or later violent and out of control, and never reaches an equilibrium.
    The director of the film is trying to say that perfect worlds do not exist, in a satirical manor. He uses allusions in the film for this purpose. The relationship between the Garden of Eden and Pleasantville in the film holds Pleasantville up for ridicule as many argue that the Old Testament of the bible does not exist. This allusion at the same time represents apparent human perfection as defective, as the devil was in the Garden the entire time, and hence, this seemingly perfect place is sly and deceitful.
    In summary, the purpose of the film Pleasantville is to hold perfection up for ridicule, and challenge society’s value for it.

  14. Plasantville, directed by Gary Ross portrays a utopia, a world without imperfections, whilst comparing it to modern day society. In doing this, the purpose of the movie could be viewed as social, as it explores topics including family, lifestyle, education, needs and wants, but more so expresses personal changes, almost bildungsromans of all characters, who become who they are through the use of symbolism of black and white -too colour. In doing this Gary Ross compares the two worlds by beginning in the regular world, then, through the use of film techniques, including juxtaposition, sends David and Jennifer to the alternate world of Pleasanville. As a result, the word of Pleasnatville is slowly broken, deteriorating into the modern world, experiencing problems, love, racism, violence, protests, adultery and more. I think Gary Ross is trying to construct the message that good and bad will always exist, and weather or not this benefits us, no world is perfect.

  15. The purpose of the film “Pleasantville” is to have social and also aesthetic purposes through the family’s of pleasantville and also throught the ‘different reality’ of Pleasantville.
    The purpose could be classified as social because of the family in pleasantville and how it is seen as perfect, becuase of this we view families in todays society as flawed and not perfect.
    Also through the different reality we see that the director has a different purpose because of the fact that he is messing with our minds and is making us see the perfect family and world.
    So I think that the director is trying to get across that the modern world is perfect and that this world is, and when things like sin comes into pleasantville it destroys their world, like it did with modern world (Adam and Eve).

    • Forgot to add…
      Through the symbolism of ‘the fall of Adam and Eve’, in the form of the apple being taken from the tree, we are led to believe that this world or utopia has fallen apart from all the sin that has come from this modern world that david and jennifer had lived in. So I also think that the director is trying to use the purpose of aesthetic to tell us that in the world of Pleasantville, like the garden of eden, it can all come crashing down from sin.

  16. the meaning of the film Pleasantville by Gary Ross is trying to make us see that peoples true identities will not be showen until something diferent is presented infront of them. For example in the film we see that people such as whitey even though he is doing bad actions such as smashing Mr johnstons window he does not become colourful so this means that he hasn’t changed in any way these feeling where always their it was just that their was no need to use them due to their being no diferences in society.

  17. Purpose of ‘Pleasantville’

    The film Pleasantville has been constructed in a way by Garry Ross, to show a main purpose. The Purpose of the film is to portray the idea of “change” within a community and the real world. The idea of change is in a way frowned apon in Pleasantville, with the introduction of David and Jennifer to the plot. With them they bring knowledge of sin, and this has great effect on the people of pleasantville, as it brings out their inner selves. The idea that the director of the film is trying to make is that in a place such as Pleasantville which is a utopia, everything is held together by a strong bond and a lack of knowledge. With the introduction of knowledge this bond is broken, and the residents do not understand or know how to act in this manner. Therefore they act out and this often leads to trouble and the break up of strong relationships. In a way, the people of pleasantville cannot cope by themselves.

  18. The movie – Pleasantville, directed by Garry Ross challenges the way we perceive the utopia constructed through “sitcom” TV shows as truly perfect. It positions us to see this perfection as flawed in the way that there are no “bumps” or imperfections.
    Through the use of shades of grey throughout Pleasantville, we are encouraged to see this “utopia” as dull and boring, or – monotonal. The colour in contrast symbolises change, and imperfection, but in a positive light compared with the static grey of the majority of Pleasantville.
    The people of Pleasantville all lie in a strict social equilibrium, preventing any flaws in the social balance of Pleasantville. The natural flaws and imperfections held by people of “the real world” are in fact inherited by their counterparts in Pleasantville, but do not show through due to the lack of imperfections to trigger such flaws.
    The containment of these flaws within every citizen of Pleasantville is seen as un-natural, leaving each citizen (although not initially externally evident) at heart unhappy, ultimately positioning us as the audience to value the world in which we live in more highly and come to terms with the fact that nothing is in fact perfect.

  19. I think Garry Ross constructed the film Pleasantville as a means to show how ‘agents of change’ operate in society, and how this change is often resented. Pleasantville, before the arrival of David and Jennifer is a pleasant but routine false reality. With their introduction into the world of Pleasantville Gary Ross is now able to use these two children and their knowledge to create a change. This change creates a big disturbance in routine life in Pleasantville and soon starts to affect everybody. As the plot progresses art becomes the promotion of new ideas and new ways of thinking and so art is used as a tool, mainly by Johnson to express his new attitudes. Some citizens of Pleasantville resents this new change because it means a new “unknown” and can lead to new discoveries and experiences, something that would never have happened in the original Pleasantville.

  20. The film of Pleasantville for me has the main purpose is to make the people who lived when the film was made to accept their lot and to see that the world that they live in is not as bad as they thought. I think this because in the ‘pleasant’ world of where the film is set is not really what it as good as was first perceived. We are also positioned as an audience to think that change can help a community and can allow them to become more of individuals and to show their true talents. Also as with the case of David and Jennifer’s mother we see that with change people have the ability to chose for themselves and to make a future for themselves and to be happy. This portrays that the world when the film was made needed to realize how free they were and had the ability to chose for themselves and could make themselves happy.

  21. The purpose of the movie Pleasantville is that under utopian societies, there is always another side to it, a darker side that never occurs, for certain problems never arise. This can be seen in how the townies were smashing Mr. Johnson’s window, they smashed the window but they didn’t change colour, this can be interpreted as, the characters themselves have not changed because they did such horrible things, but because they already had this suppressed anger within them to take such action.

    Another interpretation of the purpose of Pleasantville is without self realisation, happiness will never be achieved. In the movie you see this when Betty (The wife) finally gets out of the house and meets the person who she is truly in love with, Mr. Johnson, who she would have never met if she never saw him. Having seen Mr. Johnson, Betty opened up her own world by finding different options that she never had before.

  22. I believe that the purpose of the film “Pleasantville” was for the director, Gary Ross to depict a social view of the nuclear family. In doing so he is challenging this idea that a dysfunctional family will work less efficient then a nuclear family. At first the family where Jennifer and David enter is a tight-knitted nuclear family and everything is seen as a Utopia. This then begins to change and as more knowledge is found by the characters we find that in the beginning the characters were only suppressing all negativity. This is shown by David’s mum and her frustration, sexually. She then is drawn further away from her husband and starts become more of a dysfunctional family, but in doing so she has become a more happier, enjoyable person. This joy is what shows that a family can still function and be happy, even on a dysfunctional level, challenging the idea that a only a nuclear family can still be happy.

  23. Gary Ross has created the film “Pleasantville” with the purpose of entertaining and educating its audience. The education aspect comes in the form of Gary Ross attempting to pass on the concept that change for better or worse will cause social implications to follow. This is evident in the film from the scene where several new laws are brought into place as a result of the citizens insubordination. On a sub-note Gary Ross is attempting to convey the message that a true utopia is technically impossible due to the emotions that every human being has. Evidence of this comes in the character of Whitey, Whitey hasn’t changed (evident through the fact that he hasn’t changed colour.) yet he still is able to show feelings of hatred towards Bud.

  24. I believe the purpose of the film “Pleasantville” is to assist viewers to see change in a positive light. As well as entertaining the audience, Gary Ross has portrayed Pleasantville as a distinctive utopia with everything going for the civilians and residents. however, when David and Jennifer (i think that’s her name) get pulled into the perfect world, we then begin to see where this film is heading. We begin to see Pleasantville in a slightly different way, but we can’t put our finger on it. Slowly, we begin to notice, change is missing. We only see the same routines happening over and over again. it’s now when we see the significance of the black and white world. As change occurs good things happen. The subjects of the change become happier and appear in colour. This could be seen as them being seen in a different way, but also, everything looks better in colour. Because of this, we as the audience are made to see change as necessary for the growth of society and variety. This is what I believe the purpose of the movie “Pleasantville” is.

  25. As we discussed in class I think that Pleasantville has a strong social purpose because it portrays certain messages that create reactions within society, for example, the under-lying idea of racism within Pleasantville can have an affect on varying audience members. I think that Gary Ross is trying to show us how when different people or things are added to a situation they can change or affect it in a positive or negative way. But from this we must decide whether David and Jennifer’s addition into Pleasantville was a good or bad thing, whether we really wanted to them to destroy a life of courteous bliss or if we wanted them break the veneer and reveal a reality.

  26. im sorry sir i haven’t seen the whole movie yet because i have been in greece for the last 2 weeks i have only just got a copy of it and i will watch it as soon as posible. this is Gilbert Hicks

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