In 2004, Director Paul Haggis released Crash and in turn, opened a multitude of minds to the racism and hatred in America. This film is set in different parts of Los Angeles and has no true main character, rather following a story line that introduces multiple people as viable characters and explains their story. The plot of the movie is spanned out over a thirty six hour period where somehow every character is shown to be connected. Each individual impacts the every character in some way over that period of time. This movie involves violence, racial slurs, sex and some high quality action scenes. It’s purpose is to describe the racial and social tension in a very large area and truly how bad humanity has gotten when it comes to acceptance, ignorance and misunderstanding individuals from different areas or backgrounds. There are some scenes that I consider highly important from Crash that I will walk through and explain. Some of the characters involved in the scenes I am going to discuss are Daniel Ruiz, a Hispanic man that works for a security company that fixes locks, Farhad who is a Persian storeowner and his daughter Dorri who works at the morgue, and Cho Jin Gui, who is an older Korean man.
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The first scene that I want to talk about involves Farhad and his daughter. They are trying to purchase a gun because the neighborhood the shop is in is extremely dangerous. Farhad fears that he will be robbed and needs to take precaution. Unfortunately, he is having a hard time with translating that message to the gun shop owner, who immediately mistakes him for a person that is from Iraq, Iran or Afghanistan rather than someone from Persia. He references Farhad as “Osama” and the two start to exchange words, where Farhad insists that he is an American citizen. Farhad is escorted from the shop by security while Dorri, who was originally translating for her father, finishes the purchase. She buys a box of bullets that are blanks, which is withheld from her father. This scene is the first display of cultural frustration. Farhad is clearly bilingual and has trouble separating the two languages. The shop owner sees this as him being stupid, or uncooperative because he does not fully know English in the way someone who was raised with the language would. Farhad, probably use to this problem, gets angry in turn because he does not like being grouped into a stereotype by the gun shop owner. I felt that this scene was important because it shows a daughter that is used to dealing with these issues with ignorant people. It is clear that she has often explained her father, or her mother, to people or had to be the person to stand up for them when they are wrongly accused of something that is not true. It also shows the beginning of Farhad’s frustration which leads to another major scene.
In the previously mentioned scene, Daniel Ruiz is coming home from his locksmith job for the security company he works for. In previous scenes, he is showed to have a daughter and a wife. Despite being a hard-working man. Daniel and his family still live in a poor and dangerous neighborhood. The night before, his daughter could not sleep because she heard gunshots and it scared her. In order to comfort her because of his inability to do anything else, like move or go to a nicer area, he pretends to give her a cloak that will protect her from all the bad things around her. It is showed that his daughter has a beautiful child-innocence about her. That night, he is called out to work on Farhad’s door because the lock is not operating well. Daniel tries to explain that it isn’t really the locks fault, but the door frame. Farhad accuses Daniel of trying to cheat him, which makes Daniel leave. The next morning, Farhad finds that his store has been ransacked and vandalized with racial slurs because his entire community believes him to be Islamic following the events of 9/11. When Daniel makes it home the next day, Farhad is waiting for him with the plan to end his life because in his mind, Daniel ended his by trying to cheat him. Farhad does not understanding what everyone has been telling him about the door frame and still holds anger towards Daniel because he firmly believes that man tried to cheat him out of money rather than help him, which is what Daniel was trying to do when he gave him the advice to fix the door. Daniel’s daughter, excited that her father has come home, stands by the door and calls for him. Farhad does not pay attention to her, overcome by rage, and points the gun that his daughter had previously bought the day before, at Daniel. Daniel tries to calm down Farhad while also telling his daughter to stay away. His daughter believes that her father needs the invisible protective cloak that he had given her the night before, and rushes out of the house. The mother, Elizabeth, does not know what is going on outside but the neighborhood is so bad that, when her daughter opened the door, she panicked and ran after her. Their daughter runs straight to her father, jumping into his arms right as Farhad pulls the trigger. The family reacts before it even sees that the girl was not damaged. It was as if Farhad was given a second chance. This scene is important because it shows how far a misunderstood person is willing to go when society frustrates them. Farhad almost killed Daniel, and in turn, his little girl because he felt as if he had been robbed by Daniel personally rather than the people in his neighborhood due to the fact that his store was still destroyed.
The last scene that I am going to discuss is at the end of the movie. The backstory of this scene involves two carjackers, named Anthony and Peter, that are distracted by a conversation and accidentally hit a man that they refer to as “Chinaman”. Due to the fact that they are driving a stolen car, the boys throw the man in front of a place where they believe he will get help. The entire movie goes through other people’s lives but hardly ever focuses on the man, who is later discovered to be Korean rather than Chinese. The audience feels bad for the man because of how he was hit by a reckless driver, how they almost left him for dead, and how they just threw him outside rather than taking him to the hospital or calling for emergency assistance. When Cho Jin Gui is in the hospital, his wife Kim Lee, shows up and tells him that she believed he was dead. He tells her to take a check from his wallet and put it in the bank immediately. The scene flashes to Anthony, who has gone back for Cho’s car in the chop shop that Anthony takes all his cars too for money. When they open the van, they find many people chained to it. Cho Jin Gui, a character that most people spent the film sympathizing for, was actually running a human trafficking ring the whole time. This scene is important because it showed that first impressions of a person are not always correct.
Crash is one of the most accurate description of America that I have ever seen because it does not just focus on racism, or violence, it focuses on the why people are the way they act. It is impossible to truly hate an individual other than Cho Jin Gui, who is an undebatable symbol of evil. Very often, the background of the characters are talked about and proven to be what shaped them as people. This movie made me feel angry, but also a little disappointed because it delivered a message about change, and that is that it is often slow. In an ideal world, the conflict between races and classes would not exist. That being said, Crash shows how far we are from having that ideal world, even twelve years later. The reason Crash is such a good movie is because it is relatable. We connect our society with the society that is shown in the movie because they are very much the same. We have people of being from a nationality that they are not from all the time, for example a Cuban person being called a Mexican just based off the pigment of their skin. Racism in our society creates frustrated people that feel the need to take their anger out on someone else in a metaphorical punching bag way. The fact that we still have these obvious problems of rejecting races and cultures that are not our own is extremely sad and Crash shows what can and does really happen when we are not understanding, educated, or kind.
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