“Crash” is an American drama film, released in 2004. It was written, produced and directed by Paul Haggis. The movie is basically about the social and racial tensions in California and Los Angeles. The movie “Crash” was inspired by a real life episode in which his Haggis vehicle was carjacked outside the video store on Wilshore Boulevard in 1991. It, eventually, won three awards: Best Original Screenplay, Best Picture and Best Editing in 2005 at the 78th Academy Awards. “Crash” is a proactive movie that explores contentious issue of racism in America today from many different perspectives. The film is set in a modern Los Angeles and the movie follows the path of several characters whose lives affect one another as they fight to conquer their own prejudices (Arthurs 56).

Movie Review Summary

In “Crash” movie, a minor car accident results to an uncompromising foundation for the complex discovery of race and prejudice. Haggis’s overwhelming and unbelievable thought provoking directorial presentation enables him to bring out the behaviors that many people hide under their skin. He projects these attitudes towards us thereby putting racism on the highest platform for our review. In over twenty-four hours, crash pulls together people from all walks of life. Two philosophical black men manage to make away with the expensive SUV owned by a white, L.A District Attorney and his treasured wife (Arthurs 35).

Again, a similar car owned by a rich black TV director and his wife is later ambushed over by a racist cop and his colleague. These episodes make people get mixed up and it is evident that every confrontation results to an unjustifiably violent outward display of racism. Haggis and his co-screenwriter Robert Moresco manage to make meticulous characters who keep the movie’s tension near a bursting point with cruel verbal assaults and merciless physical demonstrations of contempt. We are influenced by our preconceptions of other individuals and our behavioral acts can be affected by the situations we are trapped in. In a single example in the film when a racist cop is in a serious accident, he risks when he decides to save the life of a black lady trapped in her blazing vehicle, while in the preceding night he had assaulted her physically (Arthurs 47).

Research Question

The film “Crash” is a good artistic genre due to numerous memorable performances, resonant and thought-provoking messages it poses. A simple car accident results to a stubborn foundation for the complex discovery of race and prejudice.

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“Crash” can be taken as an ideological analogy of how people deal with life, their own experience and other individuals. Racial difference and physical characteristics can be understood as two different personalities that separate us. This leaves several questions being raised about the movie “Crash” illustrates. For instance, abstract questions like the origin of prejudice, whether it is easy to perpetuate existing stereotypes because things may never change, and what prohibits us from overcoming prejudice are some of the burning issues in the film. In my own analysis, I realized that some behaviors could be adapted by children from their parents. For instance, if a child’s parent is a racist, then the probability of a child being a racist is high too (Dindar 44).

At first glance, Matt Dillon exhibited a close relationship with his father and later, we realize the roots of his racism. At first, it was thought that Dillon was only absorbing external signals from the parent regarding the attitudes towards the black people. Later, it is discovered that his father was not a racist towards the black people. It was Dillon who in conjunction with his father’s negative experiences formed his personal perceptions towards black (Dindar 46).

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More so, Matt Dillon exhibits prejudice and stereotypical notion of the whole scenario. His conversation with Ryan Phillepe when he tells him “He doesn’t know who he is yet” gives a revelation that soon he is going to realize that everyone is inferior to him. Basically, his statement suggests that sooner or later Phillepe will find the black people below him and they will all sail in problems. This is a prejudgment of the dark people and other human races to be criminals. Not all Hispanic and black people are criminals but according to Dillon, he already sees them like that (Dindar 47). 

“Crash” powerfully exhibits racial prejudice via the characters from all walks of life. The big, inspiring cast includes the following characters: two black male criminals, an Iranian store owner and his doctor girl, a Latino locksmith and his young daughter, a black health insurance employee, a Hispanic detective and a black detective, a Hollywood director and his black wife, a middle-aged Korean couple, white district attorney and his wife. Some of the characters that have been featured immensely in the film include a white, high–ranked attorney general who utilizes race to climb his judicial ladder. The film also has two African American men who are thieves and they steal cars together but have extremely different perceptions of racism. More so, the movie talks about a Hispanic man that works hard to make ends meet and cater for his daughter. The intent of the movie is to make the viewer take a close look at his or her own discrimination as well prejudices that are extensive within the judicial systems, neighborhoods, and work places. “Crash” takes a difficult task of giving a memorable lesson to many societal ethnic groups. “Crash” does its best to arousing viewer’s emotions to the level that they feel disturbed at mind. This makes the play earn a positive rating. Issues of content like racial discrimination and prejudice are emotional and complex, and once these issues are brought on board, they may help the film to educate people (Dindar 56).

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As much as in some parts of “Crash” movie seems far-fetched and less identified, other plotlines are significant in the movie. The film’s opening scene show the aftermath of a cruel vehicle accident and this becomes the source for the basic message flowing through the movie. The film suggests that we actually need each other as stated by Don Cheadle’s character, who is a detective. But as the word ‘crash’ depicts, the characters in “Crash”  have no compassion for each other. The characters seem isolated and unable to connect with the people of common interest too. It is evident that no one is guiltless and we happen to be all offenders and victims of cultural bias and thus, the movie suggests that people are ailing from poor socialization.

Not only have people failed to understand their neighboring society but also the individuals lack self-awareness. For instance, Matt Dillon’s police officer makes a blatant statement to rookie cop that he thought he knew who he was when actually he didn’t know. This policeman pulls over a black married couple and proceeds to assault the black woman in the presence of her husband. This same policeman is the one who rescues the black woman from a burning car in a tragic accident. It is clear that characters’ personalities in “Crash” are that they are inconsistent and no one of them knows who he or she will be in times of emotional distress and tension. It is the key to note that in order for people to know themselves well, they need to connect to other individuals around them (Goodall 56).

The Iranian character in “Crash” plays a significant role in the movie that raises a lot of questions. For instance, he does induce empathy when he faces discrimination by a gun store owner. The gun store owner compares the Iranian to a terrorist and calls him a rag head even though he clarifies that he is an Asian. The language barrier that faces the Iranian also plunge him in frustrations, since he cannot communicate fluently in English. In as much as he immigrated to America, he cannot successfully settle in the land and he appears to be an alien and completely emasculated. He goes further to punish a kind and misunderstood Mexican American locksmith who he had blamed unfairly for the store’s robbery (Goodall 65).

Like the Persian man, Sandra Bullock’s character in the film “Crash” also changes her fear and emotions of powerlessness into anger - the feelings that are closely associated – and therefore, she finds herself utterly segregated. Despite being a rich wife of a district attorney, she does not have peace as she is ever sad and pieced off. She is nervous when she sees the two black men and her anxiety evident when the black men car jacks the couple’s SUV.

One significant question is whether we may have hope as the society as some individuals are innocent of cultural prejudice. This notion has been repeated several times throughout the movie, at times humorously or dramatically, always tied with irony. “Crash” can give desolate view of racial relations in a country. However, some of the last scenes in the film show some falling snow in Los Angeles, which is unusual scenery. Perhaps, Haggis is using this symbolism that could be interpreted as some sort of hope or cleansing, though there is some image of fire as the car is covered with flames (Goodall 68).

“Crash” manages to force viewers to tackle issues dealing with their own cultural background and their experiences with those of other races. This can only be attained when we reach a level of peaceful co-existence with each other in our country. When it comes to racial inequality, ignorance is not happiness for it hurts all of us (Goodall 35).

“Crash” film, controversially was prized as the best picture Oscar award making it the second movie to win the Academy Award for Best Picture without being proposed for Golden Globe Awards for Best Motion Picture. The movie won on the basis of best directed movie, best edited, best picture, best original song, best original screen play, and has best supported actors.

By considering the film budget, “Crash” was the most cost-effective in the year 2005.  Initially, the film had to cost about $6.5 million but due to financial constraints, director Haggis made the movie in his own house, used his car in the film and even used cars belonging his staff colleagues. Despite its success, “Crash” was the cheapest film at the Home Box Office to win Best Film Picture Award. “Crash” has, furthermore, inspired numerous sound tracks that have won accolades across the globe such as “May be tomorrow” by stereophonic, and “Afraid” by Quincy (Goodall 69).

A good movie is thought to be the one that makes a person ask numerous questions as he vacates the theatre room. A viewer immediately notices racism in existence after watching “Crash”. While Haggis is clearly disappointed by the several exhibitions of the American racism, he is not trapped by cynicism that may be probable response to it. He ensures that the greatest racist in the plot - Matt Dillon’s cop - has a good side too, when he risks his life as he rescues a black woman from a car in flames. It is dangerous for one to stay without realizing the wickedness within us because this helps to hide the evil that we carry within us (Arthurs 56).

In the film “Crash”, the Persian shopkeeper, Farhad sees himself as a good person but surrounded by thieves. In the event of a disaster and his shop is robbed, his anger bursts out and he attempts to kill, an act that has never crossed his mind. Ryan Phillepe is a good cop as compared to Dillon’s racist bad cop. He is sympathetic and sensitive. However, the moment he is caught in his own fears and prejudices, he does the most shocking and brutal act in the story (Arthurs 53).

Critical Evaluation

The film begins by exposing emotionally charged themes of racism and prejudice. However, after a keen reviewing of “Crash”, it is clear that in as much as the movie’s idealistic message is to stop racism on the individual level is worthy in its intentions. However, the film tends to go against itself due to its hidden tones of white supremacy and privilege which are addressed or even thought about in the film (Arthurs 45).

When “Crash” was first released, it received so many positive commentaries and was referred to as a film of intense attraction making it as the best movie in the year 2005. However, some critics assert that Asians have been figured in an overwhelming negative light with the minority in redeeming qualities. The movie has been condemned for reinforcing Asian stereotypes and there is nothing done to enhance the development of Asian characters. On the other scenario, the movie has been condemned for laying open the racialized fancy of the U.S dream and Hollywood narrative artistic. More so, it has been critiqued for exhibiting the shopkeeper from Persia as a fearful person who is only saved by his spiritual faith. Moreover, the film has further been criticized for using sentimental and numerous cultural pictures to hide over materials and the historical inequalities that continue to consume different groups in Los Angeles (Arthurs 67).

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The film “Crash” is a good artistic genre of its kind because of the numerous memorable performances, resonant and thought-provoking messages it poses. According to the way Paul Haggis has written and directed the film, one can see the exposure of racial prejudice in America. This has been achieved through featuring several characters of different backgrounds whose lives are deeply interlaced in numerous crisis episodes. Haggis has managed to bring out several lessons to the human race through “Crash”. For instance, one can now evaluate himself and look at his or her own prejudices and discrimination at the workplace at home and other social spheres. A person can now re-examine inconsistencies pertaining fairness to other individuals in their own lives. Moreover, Haggis clearly brings out messages of despair and hope that pervades the entire film. The movie doesn’t hide racism but instead attempts to show how each person may work hard to conquer this deeply rooted crisis (Dindar 54).

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