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Pleasantville Cast and Crew:


Tobey Maguire - (David/Bud)

Jeff Daniels - (Mr. Johnson)

Joan Allen - (Betty)

William H. Macy - (George)

J.T. Walsh - (Big Bob)

Reese Witherspoon - (Jennifer/Mary Sue)

Don Knotts - (TV Repairman)

Paul Walker - (Skip)

Marley Shelton - (Margaret)

Jane Kaczmarek - (David and Jennifer's Mom)

Giuseppe Andrews - (Howard)

Jenny Lewis - (Christin)

Marissa Ribisi


Production Credits:


Dianne I. Wager (Art Director)

Debra Zane (Casting)

Ellen Lewis (Casting)

John Lindley (Cinematographer)

Allison Thomas (Co-producer)

Andy Borowitz (Co-producer)

Edward Lynn (Co-producer)

Allen Alsobrook (Co-producer)

Susan Borowitz (Co-producer)

Randy Newman (Composer (Music Score))

Judianna Makovsky (Costume Designer)

Gary Ross (Director)

William C. Goldenberg (Editor)

Michael De Luca (Executive Producer)

Mary Parent (Executive Producer)

Jon Kilik (Producer)

Robert J. Degus (Producer)

Steven Soderbergh (Producer)

Gary Ross (Producer)

Jeannine Oppewall (Production Designer)

Gary Ross (Screenwriter)

Robert Anderson, Jr. (Sound/Sound Designer)

Chris Watts (Special Effects Supervisor)





Other Films in this Genre:


1998 The Truman Show

1992 Stay Tuned

1990 Mr. Destiny

1990 Back to the Future Part III

1989 Andy Colby's Incredibly Awesome Adventure

1989 The Icicle Thief

1989 Chances Are

1989 Back to the Future Part II

1988 Hairspray

1987 Amazon Women on the Moon

1986 Peggy Sue Got Married

1985 The Purple Rose of Cairo

1985 Back to the Future



Courtesy of Wikipedia.


A visit to wikip2dia will immediately convince any Film Studies student of its immense value as a rich source of data and insights/


Link to the left





Budget ~ US$40,000,000



Pleasantville is a New Line Cinema film first released in Canada on September 17, 1998 starring Tobey Maguire, Reese Witherspoon, William H. Macy, Joan Allen, and Jeff Daniels. Don Knotts, Jane Kaczmarek and J. T. Walsh are also featured. In the film two modern teenagers are mysteriously transported into the fictitious community of Pleasantville, the setting of a black and white 1950's television show.


Through their actions the people of Pleasantville begin to experience strong emotion and consequently, events in town begin to deviate from the accepted norm.


The film was written, produced, and directed by Gary Ross, who also performed those duties for the more recent film Seabiscuit (2003), which also starred Maguire and Macy. This was J.T. Walsh's last film, released after his death. The film was released in the United States on October 23, 1998.




Pleasantville contains several themes including historical references, political contexts, and perceived reality vs. false reality.

The use of color in the film is of prime importance, as it represents the series of changes occurring the town visually. The literally monochrome world of Pleasantville blossoms into a rainbow of colors. Color is introduced slowly and often subtly: at first it may only touch a single flower, or the tongue of a girl.

Color changes are always brought on by the events of the film, particularly epiphanies experienced by the characters.



Historical references


The change in color is the primary visual effect used to accent the changes to the people and the world they inhabit, changes which challenge the values and emphasis on continuity and conformity that many consider to be the hallmark of 1950s America.


Much of the film's satirical tone is captured in the "Code of Public Conduct" which the Pleasantville citizens establish, trying to protect themselves from upsetting changes.


One rule forbids music other than "Johnny Mathis, Perry Como, Jack Jones, the marches of John Philip Sousa, [and] the 'Star Spangled Banner'".


Another rule echoes the Scopes Trial by requiring all schools to teach the "non-changist" view of history. On the DVD's director commentary, Ross notes that the film had been called "both amoral and moralistic", a contradiction in which he reveled.


Pleasantville also contains color-divided scenes (in the racist sense of the word 'color', referring to non-whites) that allude to the 1962 novel-based film To Kill a Mockingbird, which examines the conformist racial divisions in a small Alabama town in the 1930s. In particular, the Pleasantville courtroom scene in which colored people are forced into the top courtroom balcony while the non-colored are permitted seating on the main floor echoes a nearly identical Jim Crow scene filmed in To Kill a Mockingbird.


Also alluded to is the temporary end of the Renaissance in Florence Italy near the end of the 15th Century where Mr. Johnson, the lead soda jerk turned Avant-garde artist, finds himself at odds with the powers that be. Convinced that he, and anyone espousing views similar to his, will bring about the downfall of proper social behavior, the majority rally around Big Bob, the town's mayor, to banish and destroy any non-conformist symbols in a giant Bonfire of the Vanities.


Mirroring the famous Renaissance artist Sandro Botticelli, Mr. Johnson is willing to abandon his artistic standards in order to conform to the public's viewpoint. Although the reactionary elements triumph, it's only temporary as change and progress is inevitable. It isn't long before most citizens embrace the new culture.


When the townspeople were throwing the books into the fire, it is similar to the imfamous "Burning of the books" in Nazi Germany in the 1930's (e.g. burning of "undesirable" books).



Biblical allusions



It becomes apparent that most of the characters in the film have biblical equivalents and several key religious images emerge throughout the film.


David and Jennifer represent Adam and Eve and are thrown into the Garden of Eden (Pleasantville) by a Godlike character (the TV repairman). This Judeo-Christian imagery continues when the black and white David is offered a red apple by his colorized girlfriend at Lover's Lane. Several other religious parallels exist, including David's sacrifice of a perfect world so the townspeople can have more freedom.


One explicit allusion to the Bible is the first image of the book "The World of Art": "La cacciata dal Paradiso" of Masaccio (see: Cappella Brancacci).


The burning tree (the burning bush) caused by Betty's first sexual experience is often cited as an example of biblical parallelism within the film, but producer Gary Ross stated on the DVD's audio commentary track that this allusion was unintentional.





the free


Paddy’s take on the use of colour in Pleasantville.


The fist object in the film that changes  from black and white to full technicolour is a rose  that Skip notices in the hedge.  The rose is a very obvious symbol and its complex symbolic history goes back at least as far as the Middle Ages.  The director’s  intention is to be very self-consciously symbolic and to alert the audience to the whole idea of symbolism.


The question we have to ask is, who is responsible for objects in the film, changing colour,or migrating from colour to black and white?  At first it seems to be all about awakening sexuality, the girl blowing  a beautiful pink bubble with her bubblegum is perhaps aware of what she is doing sexually.  The gum may also have changed colour, because the boy she is blowing the bubble for is conscious of how  sexual the act is.


Why is the car outside the diner, a vivid green?  Is it because the car itself is intrinsically sexual or because it is perceived as sexual by those who look at it.  


The colour clock inside the diner is in colour, because time, for the adolescent, especially, is a highly charged emotional phenomenon, or because time itself represented by the clock is of itself highly charged matter?


Certainly, it becomes clear very rapidly that moving into colour is not exclusively about sexuality or sexual awakening.  Books, it seems, are also capable of making the change from black and white to colour.


Just how we choose to interpret the symbolism is obviously a subjective matter.


In a film which has been relentlessly black and white for at least 30 minutes the arrival of colour brings its own excitement and delight and is clearly to be preferred over the rest of the largely black and white Pleasantville.


When the film moves into the area of  segregation, where people of colour are set against people who are normal and black and white, the film, then tends to get itself lost, and, I suspect, for black Americans, particularly black Americans from the deep south of America, the film could be deeply insulting.


It was not white people who faced a colour bar and segregation in every aspect of the daily lives.  It was white people, who implemented this segregation.

There are no Negroes in Pleasantville.


While the film fails, it is an ambitious failure, and it certainly successfully holds up to scorn and ridicule the nay saying, small

town, insular and mean-spirited world of middle America in the 50s and early 60s.


Possibly the most successful area of the film, especially for film and media students is the satire on the regulations suggesting what could and what could not be shown in American films and on American television.  

The absence of toilets, the shock of a double bed arriving in the store window, and the repeated mention of books which were banned by many American school boards is very telling.

The adult men in the film are constructed  most unsympathetically, they are complacent, sexist bigots of the worst kind, and the role they expected their women to play is pointed up with great skill, and not a little poignancy.

Paddy visits Pleasantville but just

doesn’t get it......