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Philadelphia Review

I decided to watch the movie Philadelphia, starring Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington. I watched this movie a couple years ago and forgot how powerful and emotional the message was. Without a doubt I knew this was something that I had to write about. I went back and watched the movie and noticed some things that I didn’t catch the first time I watched it. I decided to elaborate and talk about the emotional factors of this movie and what I gained from it. 

I did research on the movie and found that this was the first movie to fully depict the AIDS crisis. In this movie they were able to take on misconceptions and injustices that took place during the AIDS epidemic. The main character of the movie, Andy (Tom Hanks) is a successful lawyer who everyone in his office loves and a Gay man living with AIDS. One day he is fired over a mishap that seemed to be planned, but Andy realizes that it wasn’t the mishap that had him fired, but the lesions on his forehead which is one of the outward signs of AIDS. At first Andy searches for a lawyer, all 10 lawyers he sees refuse to take his case. One of the most pivotal scenes for me was seeing his face on the crowded street. You can see the sadness and frustration which makes the audience feel for Andy at this moment. Andy then finally chooses Joe (Denzel Washington). At first Joe declines, but then realizes that they may have something in common. Whether its race, gender, or sexuality, no one deserves to be discriminated against. 

This movie took the most unmentionable and taboo subjects at that time and brought them to light to Hollywood and audiences everywhere. As controversial as it was, this movie was able to move a lot of people and I think it was able to help people think differently as well.  What moved me most about this movie was that as Andy’s health was declining, he still pursued his law firm to have them answer for their unethical role in his termination. While I may not be able to relate to this movie, I started to think about the injustices that I or someone else may face; as an African American or a woman in the legal system. I may be faced with things others may not understand, but learning to be open and accepting to people who have different stories than us, can change the way we look at things. Seeing the way Joe wasn’t accepting at first, but came to terms with Andy was really what made this a great movie. While Joe’s lifestyle may have been different, he was able to accept Andy’s lifestyle.   

From a cinematic perspective I think the close-ups of Andy’s face and the silence placed at different parts of the movie was able to make the audience somewhat uncomfortable and maybe even emotional. This movie was able to open the doors for other controversial movies and topics as well as bring light to the LGBT community. The movie also shows a lot of details of the AIDS epidemic and doesn’t let up. The audience is able to see the intimate details of what it’s like to live with disease which makes this even more of a cinematic masterpiece in my opinion. We also get to see things from Joe’s perspective outside of the courtroom and are able to learn that his life is very dimensional. One of the things I loved most about this movie was that I was also able to see the character’s life outside of the courtroom. We get to see Joe at first have a hatred for the Gay community, but later find acceptance for Andy and the community; as well as Andy’s life as a Gay man living with AIDS.  

In conclusion, what I gained from this film is that everyone is deserving of acceptance and to fight for whatever you may believe in. I think this movie did an amazing job of shining light on the AIDS epidemic and prejudice in general. I would highly recommend this movie to anyone who is looking for a legal drama as well as a tearjerker. I hope everyone is able to take away something from this movie the way I did. 

One thought on “Philadelphia Review”

  1. I’m really interested in your observations about how two narratives operate in tandem and bolster each other in this film: Andy’s personal life story and the broader legal narrative about discrimination. What comment does this pairing of stories make on our understanding of law and how it works, I wonder?


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