July 17, 2013
1. After watching the film several times I ultimately realized the true meaning and message of Preston Surges’ film, Sullivan’s Travels. The 1941 comedy film is based on a movie producer, John Lloyd Sullivan, whose desire is to make a film concerning social ills and global horrors. Being wealthy since birth and admitting he has no knowledge or awareness of trouble, he sets out to be a hobo to comprehend what trouble really is. After his venture, he realizes the importance of entertainment over information when it comes to producing and directing movies for the audiences. That is the true meaning and subject of the film. Sullivan wanted to show how people suffered in the world and what they had to go through on a daily basis. The truth was that people already knew how screwed up their lives were, the last thing they wanted was to pay money to watch a film reminding them of it even more. The only people who would relish those films would be the filmmakers themselves or critics. Sullivan’s Travels essentially states that people prefer movies that will make them laugh and have a good time. The film very much respects comedy as a force for escapism to those people who have problems and too much on their mind. Film editing was a major element that contributed to addressing the theme of the film. This was done by how the film editor geniously ended the movie with Sullivan saying, “It’s a lot to be said for making people laugh. Did you know that’s all some people have? It’s not a lot but it’s better than nothing in this cockeyed caravan.” Sullivan’s last words emphasized the meaning of the film and revealed the overall theme of it too, as I mentioned in the beginning. Many of the scenes also contributed to addressing the theme, but the most significant was one of the last scenes. It displayed the dreary lives of Sullivan’s fellow prisoners and himself watching Walt Disney’s “Playful Pluto”. They were laughing so hard and nonstop you would think they were crazy. In fact they were not crazy, they had just forgotten about their current situation at the time with the relief of a comedy. It was at that exact moment that Sully realized that he could help people, like them, by making comedies instead of films like “O’ Brother Where Art Thou?” which was the film he first intended to make. Another scene that caught my attention regarding the theme was when Mr. Burrows, Sullivan’s butler, said to him that the poor did not want to watch a film of things they already knew. The poor would not appreciate it and it would be like an invasion of their privacy, another reason for Sullivan not to make a film with that kind of information.
2. Narrative - The plot structure was simple and basic, like most, and had a chronological order starting with the beginning, then the middle and end. In the beginning Sullivan decides to become a hobo to experience trouble and along the way meets a young woman whom becomes his partner throughout his journey. In the middle, Sullivan and his partner undergo sickness and hunger. They learn to appreciate small things in life and even the wretched that remain humble, like a small café owner who gives them a free meal when he sees they are in need and with no money. The climax is when Sullivan gets violently robbed by an actual vagabond and along the way ends up in a jail for striking and beating a man. The hobo who robbed him is found dead and is mistaken for Sullivan. Everyone thinks he is dead but in the end Sullivan discovers a way to be found. He gets out of jail with the realization that he needed to make a comedy for the people. Making a comedy was the most significant way he could give back to those who sought laughter in times of need and suffering. His fellow prisoners lived a life of misery and the only thing they could rely on was the laughter they received from comedies. The plot structure was perfect and led to someone realizing what is really…