Review Of "The Chocolate War", Adapted From Robert Cormier's Novel Of The Same Name, Discusses Jerry's Problems And How He Overcomes Them.

1000 words - 4 pages

THE CHOCOLATE WAR FILM REVIEWThe film The Chocolate War, adapted from Robert Cormier's novel of the same name; apart from the ending, is an appealing drama focusing on young Jerry Renault (Ilan Mitchell-Smith), a freshman at the ironically religious Catholic boys' school, Trinity High. The film is directed by Keith Gordon and he presents Trinity as a microcosm, which is the main setting of the film. Set in America in the 1980s, The Chocolate War was shot in a seminary at St Edwards State Park in Bothell, in Washington. Trinity is ruled by an insidious gang of senior students, the bullies of the school, the Vigils. Assisted by the corrupt stand-in head of the school, Brother Leon (John Glover) the Vigils set 'assignments' for the students to carry out. The Chocolate War demonstrates what can happen when the veracity of the individual is sacrificed to the power of the system.In the opening scene, the typical Hollywood-style opening of a full-on shot of the main character to make him/her stand out is sacrificed for a more blocked view of the surroundings. The dried, weedy brown grass of a football playing field is shown in a medium close-up shot; showing nothing whatsoever of the surroundings, time or the characters. This leaves the viewer with a sense of blindness and bewilderment. The colours, costumes and setting are portrayed in a drab and 'washed out' tone. The colour is gloomy and the music is sombre as Yaz's 'In My Room' is played, backed by The Lord's Prayer. The music, especially the Yaz song, with its slow dirge-like rhythm, helps portray the dark and gloomy nature of the film, and with The Lord's Prayer played in an ironic tone, helps add to the use of irrelevant use of religious symbolism which is plastered all over the school. The repeated lyric "I sit and wait alone in my room" is suggestive of Jerry's predicament. This song acts as a motif throughout the film; and it is repeated in different scenes that are similarly as depressing for Jerry, and it helps to emphasise the problems Jerry faces. At the football practice in the first scene, which is the first chapter in Cormier's novel, the use of handheld camera is very high-quality. This gives us the power to see things through Jerry's eyes, which is often confusing, as the camera jolts and turns when Jerry gets tackled.Unfortunately most of the detail that is in the first chapter of the book is cut out of the film to save time. This makes it less interesting but we are aided due to the visuals. As the play starts, the handheld pans to show more of the field and the surroundings and the camera swerves and bounces as Jerry is outnumbered and viciously dumped by his opponents, which is another constant theme of the film. When Jerry is flattened for the final time the camera lurches upward in his...

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