Here’s the sort of thing the older generation might say: “Films aren’t original nowadays”. In some ways, it’s an agreeable point – the number of action films which do absolutely nothing new is rather high. But, every so often, one is released which has a premise scarcely, or never, seen before. I, personally, have seen nothing like Pleasantville before.
Here’s the plot. There’s a teenage boy (Tobey Maguire) and his sister (Reese Witherspoon). The boy is fascinated with a 1950s black and white comedy soap program, “Pleasantville”, in which everything is pleasant. His sister, however, is interested in boys. I won’t spoil any of the events in the film, but basically, a series of actions leads to them being sucked into the television and into Pleasantville, where they “become” two of the characters.
As they begin introducing non-pleasant aspects into the village of Pleasantville, such as sex and emotion, things in the world start to change from black and white to colour… then the people engaging in non-pleasant activities do too. The second half of the film focuses on the old fashioned black and white people and the coloured people going against each other.
The film is incredibly entertaining to watch, and very cleverly done. It’s a great premise, and the clash between pleasant and non-pleasant (I don’t say “unpleasant” because that suggests “bad” – “non-pleasant” can cover emotions like “ecstasy” and “happiness”) leads to some interesting results. It was released in 1998, and can be picked up, undeservedly, in most cheap sections of DVD retailers. Highly recommended.