Film & Theater studies

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  • In Precious we are introduced to our main character who not only has to contend with the issues of poverty and abuse we’ve seen in previous films, but must also navigate the world as an obese black woman? How does colorism, racism, and fat phobia make this story unique to others we’ve seen? Do you think there is a difference?


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  • In Latter Days we are introduced to two attractive gay men, but because of Elder Aaron’s Mormon upbringing and mission, he is unable to fully embrace his attraction for Christian and this results in self-harm. How does religion impact this story in ways that are unique to other stories we’ve seen this quarter?



  • Girl Interrupted: How does the setting of institutionalization contribute to the story telling for this piece Compare to other stories of isolation, such as Is there something to be gained from a story that limits the places an individual can travel to?

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Room movie:  HD Room (


  • As we close out the quarter, we look at the aftermath of the genocide in Rwanda. How is this form of collective trauma expressed through this film’s exploration? How does this differ from individual trauma as experienced through any of the films of your choice from the rest of the quarter?


Movie: HD Hotel Rwanda (


Precious (2009)

Response 1

The film depicts the struggles that black women, overweight people, and people from minority races go through daily in the country. It paints a clear picture of the effects of racism, colorism, and fatphobia on people and how it can ruin their lives. The film is unique from other films depicting colorism, racism, and fatphobia in that most films show just one of these behaviors. The main character, Claireece “Precious” Jones, goes through the three societal ills all at the same time (Precious, 2009). The film also stands out from the rest because of the outstanding camerawork and prowess of the main character, Gabourey Sidibe. She is able to bring out the emotions of pain, happiness, anger, frustration, and hopelessness very well, taking the audience through an emotional rollercoaster throughout the film.

Response 2

Precious (2009), like any other film depicting the struggles of African-American women in the United States, does a good job of passing the message that racism and colorism should be shunned. The main character, an overweight, African-American teen, goes through numerous challenges and abuse from her family and those around her until she eventually meets a teacher who manages to motivate her to work towards the achievement of her dreams. The film is not different from other films showcasing the negative effects of colorism, fatphobia, and racism in the country. However, the interplay between racism and fatphobia gives Precious (2009) some kind of uniqueness from other films.

Latter Days (2003)

Response 1

Latter Days (2003) is a highly controversial film that introduces viewers to the lives of two gay men who are Mormons. As a result of one of the character’s Mormon background, he is unable to embrace his attraction to the gay character, resulting in self-harm. Religion negatively affects the social and love life of Elder Aaron, mostly because Mormon teachings are against same-sex relations. The story of the two gay men is impacted uniquely by their religious beliefs. Elder Aaron lives in denial that he is gay because he does not want to go against his Mormon upbringing. While religion mostly affects the relations between men and women in most films, it affects the relations between gay men in Latter Days (2003).

Response 2

Latter Days (2003) does a great job of showcasing how societal and religious norms affect the decisions of people. In the film, a Mormon man is attracted to another man but is unable to accept his feelings because of his Mormon upbringing. The film is not unique from other films depicting controversial issues in society. The characters could be nuns who fall in love with each other and engage in sexual relations or even a Catholic priest who wishes to engage in sexual relations with a woman he has developed carnal feelings for. The underlying story would still be the same: religion and how it affects the lives of people who wish to lead their lives differently from religious norms.

Girl, Interrupted (1999)

Response 1

Girl, Interrupted (1999) is about a girl, Susanna, who has committed herself to an upscale psychiatric institution with pressure from her family. While her peers are making college plans, Susanna is drinking aspirin and vodka to calm her nerves. She has been diagnosed with Borderline personality disorder and is institutionalized at Claymoore, a psychiatrist institution. The institutionalization of Susanna takes center stage in the storytelling of the film. She is isolated from her peers and leads a different life from them. Just like the young woman kept in captivity and raising her son in isolation in Room (2015), Girl, Interrupted (1999) shows the negative impact that isolation can have in the lives of people.

Response 2

Like any other movie that showcases an individual’s life while living in isolation, Girl, Interrupted (1999) paints a grim image of the life of an institutionalized girl who misses out on the activities that her peers are engaged in. While Room (2015) tells the story of a young woman held captive where she raised her son in a single room, Girl, Interrupted (1999) is about a girl who is isolated from her peers while still living amongst them. In both films, the impact of isolation from the world is depicted in the lives of characters (who are either institutionalized or isolated from the outside). There is a lot that one can learn from these films, especially when it comes to the negative impact of isolation and the struggles people go through while reintegrating with the outside world.

Hotel Rwanda (2004)

Response 1

Hotel Rwanda (2004) recounts the real-life occurrences at the Diplomat Hotel in Rwanda during the Rwanda Genocide that saw almost a million lives lost. The film is based on the actions of Paul Rusesabagina, who saved the lives of at least 1000 Tutsi people by hiding them at his hotel during the genocide. Hotel Rwanda (2004) depicts the collective trauma that was experienced by the survivors of the genocide and how the trauma affected their lives. Viewers get a picture of how the lives of people living in Rwanda during the genocide changed and the losses that they suffered. Collective trauma is different from individual trauma, which affects an individual rather than the society or a group. Room (2015), for instance, shows the individual trauma that the main character goes through as a result of being in isolation for years. She finds it difficult to relate to the outside world as a result of individual trauma.

Response 2

Hotel Rwanda (2004) gives a recount of the occurrences in one of Rwanda’s hotels during the genocide. The story depicts the trauma that people living in the country at the time went through trying to save their lives and start a new life after the genocide. Collective trauma, which the Rwandese society experienced as a result of the occurrences during and after the genocide, comes out clearly in all the film’s scenes. The effects of collective trauma and those of individual trauma seem to be similar in some ways. In Room (2015), individual trauma makes it difficult for the main character to reintegrate into society after years of isolation, just as in Hotel Rwanda (2004) where genocide survivors live in constant fear and isolation as a result of the trauma they experience while hiding at the hotel.

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