Hundreds of movies are released every year. Filmmakers try to create the next jaw-dropping movie that audiences will stand in line for hours and pay top dollar to see. The key to success is finding ideas that appeal to a mass audience. Viewers are the lifeline of any production company so making something for everyone is a savvy business move for the film industry. To cover all bases, there are over fourteen different genres of movies. Film making is not a solo effort. It is a collaboration between the actors, directors, producers and other key contributors. This combined effort or mise-en-scene includes all the elements of the film to include actors, backdrops, costumes, props and lighting used to meet the director’s vision (Goodykoontz & Jacobs, 2011, Sec 3.2). This paper will discuss the elements of a movie clip entitled “You Can’t Handle the Truth” from the movie A Few Good Men.
The movie, A Few Good Men, was released in 1992. It was a box office success grossing over $237 million globally. The story was about two marines on trial for killing a squad member. Tom Cruise and Demi Moore both starred in the movie as Marine Defense Attorneys and Jack Nicholson as the Marine Commander. The clip, “You Can’t Handle the Truth,” is one of the most memorable scenes of the film. It is the heated scene when Lt Dan Kaffee asks Colonel Nathan Jessup if he ordered the Code Red. Colonel Jessup went into the infamous ”You Can’t Handle the Truth” monologue.
As powerful as the scene was to the viewers, the vision started with the film’s director Rob Reiner. As the director, Mr. Reiner was ultimately responsible for the entire project. He worked with the script writer, Alan Sorkin, to develop the right words for the onscreen version. From the script, Mr. Reiner developed his vision for the film. He discussed his ideas with the production team, actors, and cinematographers who put the plan into motion. Although Mr. Reiner never served in the military, he was able to put his personal spin on this story because he related with Lt Kaffee. According to Weinraub (1992), “In all my films," said Mr. Reiner, who had struggled for years to move out of the shadow of his own father, the writer and director Carl Reiner, "I've got to find something I can hook up with, connect with. Kaffee is in the same business as his father; I'm in the same business as mine” (pg.1). He used this familiar ground along with the moral dilemma as the foundation for the Oscar nominated movie. Mr. Reiner then turned his vision to the production designer.
The production designer on this particular film was J. Michael Risen. He was responsible for bringing the visual elements of the movie to life. His design aesthetic was critical to the success of the scene. Mr. Risen designed the set that accurately represented a military court room. He did not complete this task alone. The production designer also joined with the art director to finalize the shot.