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A Formal Analysis of the Movie Norma Rae

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A Formal Analysis Of The Movie Norma Rae

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Looking back on social issues and trends that have emerged in decades through filmmaking. As well as the influences the cinema has impacted on society. Looking at the genre of a film someone might be able to pick- up a movie. That would start some investigation to the theme of that genre. Fundamentally films and directors can be a product of numerous and sometimes conflicting influences on a particular class of individuals. By watching different types of films in various eras of time, we can learn how society worked with a different category of people. Moreover, how the separation put individuals in the different classification in society. Hollywood was making films that would show diverse conversational issues with society and make them the theme of a movie. Using a formalist approach with a deep analyzation and a critical approach to examining the issue and identify techniques and elements that contribute to establishing the plot, theme, and also how society interprets, and perceives the meaning in the film Norma Rae (1979).

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In the humblest description, a plot is synonymous to the storyline, whereas the theme is more the core believe, or ideal being undertook. Existence the storyline, the plot is what one would presume to emerge into a story or narrative. For instance, the events that occurs or happens with the characters. What they will do, where they will go, and when they will make an entrance are all part of the plot (Goodykoontz B., 2014). On the exterior of every flick, there is a plot that is the central line of action that governs assembly. The plot is unique and diverse by viewers that are used to summarize the film. However under the exterior of a flick it has a theme. The ideal gives layers of complexity to an otherwise meek story while also combining many script elements such as plot, characters, set design, hair and makeup (Goodykoontz B., 2014). That

Also helps develop and establish the theme for further analyzing the message the director is trying to get out to society. However, here are some typical examples of topics it could be love, war, revenge and many others. The theme directly talks about the issue of the story.

Norma Rae’s theme was a culture in the age of feminism the film released in 1979 directed by Martin Ritt. Moreover, it was an Award Academy nomination for best picture. However, the award and the film both mirrored the time in which it was made and contrasted with the times (Toplin, 1991). Hollywood Had a growing interest in females in the 70s this films observed at a time when numerous new Hollywood releases were addressing ladies’ topics (Toplin, 1991). The fabricators had flourished in levitation of capital for the picture by marking their association with a bold and spirited women. Additionally Norma Rae was constructing a class of its own with being unique with admiration to its pro-union viewpoints (Toplin, 1991). The coming of this film was in an era when labor unions were dropping. However, the officials appeared eager to disapprove of the controlled work for damaging American effectiveness in the global marketplace. Though Norma produced by an entertainment business that had never questioned union organization yet when it did it was in a negative attitude (Toplin, 1991).

Two female producers Tamara Asseyev and Alex Rose delivered the vigor to make Norma Rae into a movie. This was also uncommon for women to team up and produce a major motion picture without a male partner. These two women were penetrating rising feminist statements in the 1970s and was attracted to stories about celebratory women’s battles against difficult odds.

This film had a great impact on society the focus was not just on a union it was about culture, and class. Also the reality of working-class life and struggles. In effect, that representation of working-class life and culture is organized around concepts that contribute not to camouflage

Real-life issues. Although Norma Rae is not just about union organizing; is more imperceptibly concerned with the mechanism class struggle in class harmony. This film was not meant to provide a false ideal of faith in the power of unions. As much as it is intended to provide an article of faith in the power of men and women in the struggle to gather to overcome the forces that oppress them. Also had an excellent approach to the feminist and how women are just as strong as a man.

Because the cinematography is more of a documentary style the director tries to avoid the Artificial three-point system. However typically if there is more of a controlled three-point studio lighting it would be varying from high- key to low-key depending upon the scene (Goodykoontz B., 2014). With using this lighting, it helps develop the feel and the era of time it was filmed. The lighting in this film with using the low- key in a matter of fact delivery. The lighting and the surroundings deliver at least as many specifics about the theme and the characters. With using Calm bluish colors and death tones. Many of the elements utilized in the mise en scene was representing the theme and the social metaphors. The declarations of the house that Norma Rae and her family lived in explain the back story and set up the present situation (Goodykoontz B., 2014). The camera shows the town, and the costumes that the actors wore was based on the theme and at the time of filming. The dialogue was real to the theme and the present message that the director wanted to get across (Goodykoontz B., 2014).

The genre theory is used to study films to simplify and classify them and put them in their proper genre types of movies. Because they tend to use familiar story formulas, character models, the setting, and iconography (visual imagery was symbolic implications). This is how all of the viewers have certain expectations about what the movie will be like before actually watching it (Goodykoontz, 2014). In the film Norma Rae, there will be examples shown to the drama genre and the conventions of the elements from Characteristic of the characters to repeating plot points that separate one style of drama from another. Norma Rae’s sub- genre is the biography genre that incorporates dramatic elements into a biography film. With using the genre theory and the conventions of the movie Norma Rae. We will see how the plot played with the conventions and the elements and the characteristics of the film Norma Rae. (Ritt, 1979)

For various reasons that show genre films are prime candidates for analysis to reveal a significant far deeper than the surface stories. Many will also have a variety of related sub- genres with more narrowly defined formulas and expectations, for example. If we were going to see a horror movie, we would expect to have the living daylights scared out of us. The sub- genre is the supernatural, science fiction, in the horror, and fantasy and science fiction categories. Are among the most likely to cross genres, both of one another and with other genres (Goodykoontz, 2014). Genre theory is a way to categorize films with similarities in plot, theme, and character types (MacDonald, 2010). According to genre films as culture pedagogy. Keith Grant, a genre film scholar, suggest, “Genre movies are those commercial feature films which, through repetition and variation. Tell familiar stories with familiar characters and familiar situations.” (2010). However, the genre theory shows types of films that produced for audiences in different eras of time. For example, when 9/11 happened many directors and moviemakers were producing films about hijacking airplanes and terrorist attacks. Genre theory helps with the differences in age, gender, race, sexuality, religion, and ethnicity could affect the clarification of a film (MacDonald, 2010). Genre theory helps moviegoers that enjoyed a certain genre film.

Now will be able to have the concept of knowing how to look for other types or sub- genre and also knowing that there are others out there who share the same genre attraction as they do.

Screenwriting teacher Robert McKee defines genre convictions the “particular setting, roles, events, and values that identify individual types and their sub- genres.” (McKee. 2014).

Norma Rae’s genres of style is documentary and the sub- genres are biography, social problems, economics, However in Goodkoontz the textbook film watching to seeing (2014) in Table 4.1 film genres it does not have documentary genres, drama type, or biography genre. A documentary genre is a nonfiction film that usually studies an outcome or another subject in depth. Though documentaries are to show the point of view to show how the individual has taken action on a human rights violation as in what Norma Rae did. If a good director is directing the

Documentaries, it can be made interesting and not annoying as some documentaries may be (Goodykoontz, 2014). The sub- genre in Norma Rae is biography because it was based on the real-life of Crystal Lee Sutton efforts to unionize. The J. P. Stevens Mills in Roanoke Rapids, N. C. A year after this film was released the company finally agreed to union representation for their employees (Worden, 2011).

The drama film is a genre that trusts on the sensitive and individual social development on genuine characters. Although drama films believe on the kind of development, dramatic themes play a huge role in the plot as well. Often, these intense themes are taken from intense, real-life

Issues. The protagonist is facing a conflict of external and internal conflict within themselves; drama films aim to tell the story of mortal struggles. An example of the same genre and sub- genres of Normal Rae (1979) would be the film “Erin Brockovich” (2000) Directed by Steven Soderbergh starring Julia Roberts, Albert Finney, and David Biography the genre is a biography and the sub- genre is drama. In the film Julia Roberts plays the actual, real- story- based Erin, a single mother of three priceless children. Hardly scraping by with unpaid bills living at a substance level in poverty these are the primary features in the films set design (Soderbergh, 2000). The convention in the movie Norma Rea Sally Fields plays the character in a real- story- based on actual events with organizing a union. She is also living in poverty as a single mother, marked as widowed and had an illegitimate child (Ritt, 1979). That is just one of the conventions of the biography genre. The Iconography used within a film to study and describe the visual language of cinema particularly within the field of genre criticism. Iconographic is an important aspect of the genre the audience expects to see individual objects on the screen when we see a particular style. For an example in a Western’s dusty lonely roads, saloon bars, cowboy hats and horses, jails and sheriff's badges, and guns (Goodykoontz, 2014). However in a horror film we expect young girls, typical objects, and the use of dark lighting also blood, and some weapons maybe a knife. It could be a man in a mask as in the movie “Halloween” (2000) and like the movie “Psycho” (1979) where the knife used in the shower scene (Hitchcock, 1960). In the genre conventions of drama, the audience expects conflict, dilemmas, depression, as well as struggles there will be some prejudice and an acute with an intense, realistic feeling. Thus, is why Norma Rae’s film categorized under drama and autobiography (MacDonald, 2010).

Like a lot of Norma Rae’s family before her Norma Rae (Sally Field) works at a local textile mill. Where the pay is scarcely suitable for the work and the long hours as well as the horrible working circumstances. Nevertheless after hearing an inspiring speech by labor campaigner Reuben (Ron Leibman), Norma is enthused to assembly her corresponding workers behind the reason of unionism. Her pronouncement annoys her family, particularly her fiancé, Sonny (Beau Bridges), and aggravates her employers with no shortage of disrespect from them the employers (Ritt, 1979). With just a summary of the plot, we can see that the conventions of this film will be from the drama genre. There are restricted sum of narrative fundamentals in any story cinematic. However, these can be broken down into some classes for recognizing styles as the characteristic plot the typical circumstances and the details of the main story as well as the dialogue. A mixture of any of the sets in a story generates a formulation of the design. It is this outline within a story, which results in a recognizable genre. The ideal/themes/plot, etc. that are recurrent in different films called ‘genre convictions’ (Williams, 2012).

Moreover, we can see the struggles that Norma will be going through on her journey to organizing the union one of the keywords for the convictions would be a struggle.

The beginning of this plot is in the 1970s Norma has found out that her mother has temporary deafness. Because of the machine noise in the factory. She is sickened and repulsed at the thought of management and tells her mother “they do not care anything about you” (Ritt, 1979). Norma tells her father (Vernon Witchard) she is going into town her father said he will drive her. Although she does not want him to drive her. Just then a stranger comes knocking he says his name is Ruben Warshovsky, and he is a labor organizer and he has come to put a union in the O.P. Henley Textile Mill. Vernon tells him “you people are communist, agitators, crooks or Jews, or all four roles together.” Although he does tell Ruben, he makes $1.33 per frame and Reuben tells him that he is both underpaid and overworked (Ritt, 1979). Dad just runs him off. Dialogue is another conviction to this genre and the realistic conflict between the worker. Moreover, the union organizer gives a solemn, intense feeling with using dialogue also shows prejudice because Ruben is Jewish (Ritt, 1979). Ruben is checking into the local motel. He sees Norma Rae and communicates began with a sarcastically statement about the town “Friendly little town you have here” (Ritt, 1979). Meanwhile, Norma Rae goes to continue her affair with a married man in one of the rooms. Although she tells the man George, that this will be their last time because he has a wife and two children. As well as much gossip going around town about him and her (Norma Rae). He objects, but she says: “it just doesn’t make me feel good.” George slaps her (Norma Rae). He hits her so hard she has to apply ice to her eye to keep the swelling down (Ritt, 1979). Moreover, this is the start of the relationship between Ruben and Norma because she asked him for the ice. She asked Ruben: “You a Jew?” Ruben says “Born and bred.” Norma keeps the conversation going by asking him what makes Jews so different from anyone else. Ruben responds with “What makes us different is history.” Here again, there are more convictions to the plot to have it move along. With the conflict between her and George as well as her having a bad reputation in the town and how we can see she has a prevalent life as in the town slot (Ritt, 1979).

These are all relationships to the drama genre and the autobiography genre, so the viewers can recognize the style as a drama and autobiography. There are actors that are known to play certain types of characters in films. Like John Wayne, he played in Westerns so if you seen his name you would probably assume the genre would be a Western. Though Sally Field was not known for playing in drama films, this was one of her first serious films, so the actors in this movie are not one of the conventions (Goodykoontz, 2014).

Norma Rae goes into work, and the boss wants to see her in his office. He tells her she has one of the biggest mouths in the plant give use more coffee and smoke breaks and a new water fountain. Although the boss has got word of her talking to the union representative so, he offers. Her a spot- checker position which pays $1.50 per hour that is big raise, and Norma jumped on the opportunity. Although when she finds out that her father is mad at her for watching him and she goes into work, and nobody speaks to her she quits that position (Ritt, 1979).

Moreover, this is where Norma meet her future husband Sonny although they get married out of convenience. Because he is a single father, and she is a single mother, and he said they could help each other by getting married. Norma Rae’s dad is on the line working, and his arm goes numb. He tells one of the supervisors and the controller replied back that he has a break soon, and he can take care of his arm then. The father tells the manager that he thinks he should tend to his arm now the manager disagrees. Her father falls over and dies from a heart attack on the line this brings serious, and painful depression to the plant.

However, this is when Norma Rae had enough, and she works hard organizing all her coworkers to vote for the union (Ritt, 1979). This brings much tension and heart aches to Norma and her working conditions. With organizing, the union meetings, then one meeting nobody showed up, and that is when Ruben went to one of the workers house. Moreover, he asked him why nobody came to the meeting and the employee. Goes into his kitchen and gets four turn ups and puts them in a pan and tells Ruben this is all he has to feed his family of six. Moreover, the company has them for a stretch-out, meaning that the workers now have to do and three days

What they did in five days. It is twice as much work for half the pay, and he tells Ruben it is all his fault. With Norma Rae’s father dying now, the sorrow and painful feelings that are going on

Throughout organizing this union has all the makings of the genre convictions of drama this movie has a serious tone all through the film. Moreover, the last opinion has the most dramatic scene. With Norma Rae standing on the table holding a written sign that says union. Because she gets caught making a copy of the posting management had put up on the bulletin board that said the Blacks are trying to take over the union. Moreover, a group of white male workers start beating up one of the black workers. Other workers have to rescue the black man (Ritt, 1979).

With Norma Rae standing on this table, the camera shows each and every worker looking at her in the saddest way. The camera goes to each worker as each turns their machines off as going on strike the Sheriff and four other managers carries. Norma Rae to the officers police car as she kicking, scratching, and fighting not to go in the car (Ritt, 1979). Ruben has to bail Norma out of jail, and when he takes her home, Sonny is upset because she called Ruben and not him.

Although Ruben thinks, he pacified Sonny by telling him she knew he did not have the money to bail her out (Ritt, 1979). She wakes up her three children and tells them that mommy is a jailbird. Moreover, there to hear things about her, and she tells them that they have different fathers, and she was disliked in town (Ritt, 1979).

This is one of the convictions that brings the whole story together with the plot and shows the audience the similarities and differences in different dramas. Norma Rae and Sonny are in bed, and Sonny looks at Norma Rae is a sobering, sad way and asked her if she had ever slept with Ruben. Moreover, she replies with the answer of no although she said he is in my mind. Sonny replies back to her and tells her that nobody is in his mind Other than her (Ritt, 1979). The union finally gets voted in, and that makes Norma Rae triumphal because now she feels as though her children will have a better lifestyle because that is all she has known is the mill. Ruben and

Norma Rae had a particular type of friendship he is leaving town, and Norma Rae is a better person due to his mentoring. As well as making her feel as though she is somebody, unlike all the other men that have been in her life. Even her father was controlling and overbearing to her. This film had all the convictions that the audience would be expecting to see on the screen. It showed how one drama could be different from another drama with setting and dialogue as well as the characters (Ritt, 1979).

When studying film, we can have a deeper meaning and with a combination of using different critical approaches, I can figure out what a filmmaker is trying to say in his or her work. Also with using the formalist approach I can focus on internal evidence. Also how the plot is used to present the story and using different approaches, I will be able to look at a film as a distinguishing genre. Then comparing it with other films from the same genre and finding meaning by identifying shared symbolic, motifs or variations from the expected formula. The way I will view movies and see if the lighting used in the right way and if the director was real to himself. With using film theory and criticism, I just won’t be looking at the obvious. I will probably be looking more behind the scenes in depth. Analyzing the elements and techniques that are used in building the plot and recognizing the theme. Also examining what the director is trying to get across to society. To be quite honest, I do not think my understanding of how movies related to society has changed in any way. Because I have always looked for the meaning of a film and not just what the movies interpretation. I enjoy documentary films true-life stories so that part of me has not changed whatsoever. I also would say I do not know if it is a

Skill although, I learned how to make a blog. The skills I will use in my professional and private life would be the psychology approach to identify the plot and theme. I also learned that I could take a movie and analyze it just as well as if I was doing a literary analysis.

Works cited

  1. Goodykoontz, B. (2014). Film: From watching to seeing. Cengage Learning.
  2. Toplin, R. B. (1991). Politics and culture in contemporary America: A critical anthology. Columbia University Press.
  3. Worden, D. M. (2011). Crystal Lee Sutton. In North Carolina Women: Making History. North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources.
  4. Soderbergh, S. (Director). (2000). Erin Brockovich [Motion picture]. Universal Pictures.
  5. Hitchcock, A. (Director). (1960). Psycho [Motion picture]. Paramount Pictures.
  6. MacDonald, D. (2010). The politics of Hollywood cinema: Popular film and contemporary political theory. Penn State Press.
  7. McKee, R. (2014). Story: Substance, structure, style, and the principles of screenwriting. HarperCollins.
  8. Williams, R. (2012). Film: A critical introduction. Pearson.
  9. Ritt, M. (Director). (1979). Norma Rae [Motion picture]. 20th Century Fox.
  10. Goodkoontz, B. (2014). Film genres: Exploring Hollywood cinema. Cengage Learning.

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