Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Tom's War on Terror


Directed by Cameron Fay, 2007, approximately 1:29
Source: American University's Library Media Services

As far as narrative goes for this film, although only a minute and a half is very interesting. There is Tom a man waitng fo a bus and spots a middle eastern woman standing with a heavy looking backpack. As a mild-mannered man, who supposedly watches the news and is aware of his surroundings, he decides to be a hero. He tackles the woman and tells everyone to get down. From there all the people fall silent and just stare at him, where introduces himself, apologizes and steps back on the bus.

What I found so intriguing about this film is how much of a narrative is revealed in such a short amount of time. The movie itself runs over a minute and thirty second, while the actual footage is under a minute. We only learn Tom's name from the title and after he introduces himself. And we know nobody else's name. But what is so interesting is how much we actually do know from the information given. Tom is society's every-day average Joe, he wakes up, puts on his suit, buys his coffee and takes the bus to work. But today after watching the new or reading the paper he is on the defensive about suicide bombings and people of middle east descent. From this recent knowledge gained, he goes to his everyday bus stop. At this bus stop he sees a middle eastern woman with a backpack. No dialogue is used but a sense of urgency is in the air, created by the music and the quick cuts.

The girl is another character that develops as the film elapses. She at first gives Tom a "funny look," by staring at him then looking down. Although the viewer already assumes she is not actually a suicide bomber, it's how Tom is seeing hte whole situation. So he see this and panics. Later on in the film after he throws her bag and books spill out. This makes her a innocent character, who becomes a victim of discrimination. Even though Tom becomes the enemy at that point, he still brushes himself off and continues on with his everyday routine. This goes to show how so much narrative and information can be in a film that is so short.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

This reminds me of a couple of things. One is "Stranger than Fiction." That bus theme really reminds me of that. Also, "Disaster Movie," which also included political incorrectness, in a way. Also, was this girl in Speed Racer? For some reason, I think she was.

- Mitch

Jihyun said...

This film is kinda funny, but... if I were in the woman's shoes, it would be really terrible...

Max said...

The dude gets all excited like its his time to shine. Maybe there's some message with regard to how everyone wants to be a hero and they jump on any opportunity?

Geoff said...

It is cool how so much is conveyed with so little dialogue. I like the terror alert colors in the title.

Annie said...

this is very critical on raceism and profileing. JUST because the woman was a middle eastern he tackeled her and it was jsut school books. Had it been a caucasian woman with a heavy backpack he wouldn't have thought twice about it. Its amazing how a person was able to profile the guy so quickly in just a minute

Jack Caine said...

Another perspective is that, here is a man who thought a suicide bombing was about to take place and instead of running away or simply remaining silent, he put his own life on the line to save people. Notice how he didn't beat her up and in fact apologized after he was wrong.

While some can look at this film as a parallel of racism, profiling and living in fear - some could argue that without causing what may amount to a bruise from the tackle, Tom didn't hurt the woman in his quest to rid her of her weapon. Her feelings were probably more hurt than her body.

Overall, a terrific a precise way of getting across a message of the times. Bravo!

Joe Bocchini said...

Although people do actually find this funny it's kind of sad because we see it almost everyday with racial profiling and stereotyping. I can admit that I was a little bit concerned after 9/11, it's sad but unfortunately true.

Phil said...

Yeah I really do think that it's the girl from Speed Racer, that's a really weird connection man.

Lucas said...

Believe it or not i've seen this film, I watched it in a history course at school. A lot of student thought it was really offensive but I agree with all of the other comments about how this is a statement against our paranoid society.

Darryl said...

"Notice how he didn't beat her up and in fact apologized after he was wrong." I think this is kind of a ridiculous statement, just because he doesn't exert violence doesn't make him bad? No, I think that the message of paranoia is the real problem here. This film kind of offended me.