A lovely bit of cabin fever


Movies tend to portray a good life as the protagonist being able to achieve a form of stability and success in his or her life. This recurrence in movies is a response to the audience’s demands to see a familiar and comforting story play out on the screen. People want to see films about those who are able to prevail regardless of any hindrance that had befallen them. Both Michel Hazanavicius’ The Artist and Alexander Payne’s The Descendants are able to not only fulfill the audience’s demands but also deliver guidance toward making life easier. Based on recently released films a good life is being able to stabilize turbulence in one’s life and achieving personal success. This perception of what a good life is seen in both The Artist and The Descendants through the usage of character development.

The Artist portrays the protagonist experiencing a good life by showing his struggle to attain stability and personal success. The movie takes place over the course of five years during the late nineteen twenties early nineteen thirties. The story follows a silent film movie star’s, George Valentin, struggle of maintaining a career during the dawn of the sound films era. As the movie progresses George becomes a former shadow of himself as he gradually loses all of his studio investments, his job, his fame and publicity, and his will to live. With the help from a famous actress, who had admired him since the begging of her carrier, George was able to find motivation to continue living and was able to re-shine on the silver screen once again. The fictional story of George Valentin is an example of someone experiencing a good life because George was able to reach a form of mental stability and success in his career. Like many people who are struggling in life, George became an alcoholic and had started to develop suicidal thoughts. However, by the end of the film George was able to not only terminate his drinking habits but he also banished all thoughts of suicide. In addition to his mental stability, George was also able to succeed with his acting career. Throughout the film Hazanavicius, the director, was promoting a life lesson to the audience that stubbornness and pride are a person’s most paramount weakness. This was seen during George’s most deplorable times when he had pushed his only friend away from him out of self-pity, pride, and stubbornness. The film The Artist illustrates a good life by portraying a character that is able to find stability and success.

By showing a protagonist who is capable at achieving stability and personal success the film The Descendants was able to depict an example of a good life. The Descendants follows the story of Matt King and his dysfunctional family. Matt is a middle aged lawyer, a father of two girls and husband of a woman who just entered a coma. In order to strengthen the family’s bound Matt brings his rebellious teenage daughter home from boarding school. However, the plot thickens when his daughter tells him Matt’s wife, Elizabeth, had been cheating on him. The family decides to try to find Elizabeth’s lover and to tell him that Elizabeth is in a coma. As the movie progress Matt learns more about his daughters, about himself, and what he wants to do with his life. This movie depicts a good life because it shows Matt stabilizing his relationship with his family and him being able to succeed at doing what he thinks is right. When the family is first introduced they are presented as three people who live together but know nothing about each other. However, as their journey progressed Matt was able to bridge the gap he had with his daughters.  Matt was also able to achieve a personal success of making decisions that he thinks are right. Matt is first introduced as someone who works hard and earns money because he is expected to. By the end of the movie Matt has to make a decision of either selling some property, which will ultimately benefit Elizabeth’s lover, or not to sell the property. Matt originally planned to sell the property because he thought he wanted to earn money. By the end he succeeds at choosing what he thought is right, which was not to sing a contract that would benefit someone who his wife was cheating with. The film also delivers the message of showing respects to your enemy. Even though Matt was angry and loathed the man who his was cheating with, Matt had never any intension of attacking him, either verbally or physically. The only reasons Matt wanted to see him was to tell him that Elizabeth was in a coma so he would know to visit her. The Descendent demonstrates a good life because it shows a man who was able to achieve stability, with his family, and personal success, making decisions he thought was right

Some would argue that The Artist and The Descendent do not actually depict a good life since both movies only show a sample of the protagonists’ life; which is an insufficient amount of data for determining whether they are living a good life or not. However, if this argument were to be mad it be based on a misinterpretation of the films. The films argue that a good life is finding stability in one’s life and succeeding on one’s own personal goal. The films only showed glimpses of the protagonists’ life to show that they are able to obtain and experience a good life. This means that they would be able to undergo the process of achieving a good life a second time, if they will ever need to. By showing the characters’ ability to endure the struggle they were faced with (which leads them to eventually experience a good life), the films suggests that they would be able to do it again.

The Artist and The Descendants are significant because they serve as an encouragement for people to continue reaching for a good life. Many people have to face different challenges throughout their lives. However, people feel encouraged to continue fighting their challanges when they see other people who are able to waddle through all of their obstacles until they reach a form of stability and success. By watching movies about fictional characters that are able to experience a good life people feel better about themselves and their lives.

Many current films promote the idea that a good life is finding stability and  achieving one’s personal goal. This was seen in The Artist when the protagonist was able to achieve mental stability and succeed at returning to the film industry. In The Descendants the protagonist was able to stabilize his relationship with his daughters and succeeded at making choices he thought were right. While some would argue that the films were unable to define what a good life is because they only show segments of the protagonists’ life. However, those people are wrong because the films were showing that the characters are capable of experiencing a good life suggesting that they can do it again when needed. Films that depict a good life are significant to the public because they work as encouragements when life gets tough. There are many films that depict a good life in which the protagonist is able to achieve stability and success and there are many more films with this message that have yet to come.



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