Bigger Than Life By Nicholas Ray Essay

1716 Words Mar 11th, 2016 null Page
Bigger than Life is a film that was directed by Nicholas Ray in 1956. It is a critique of social constructs in American society masked as a film about the dangers of drug addiction. Through Ray’s brilliant usage of mise-en-scène and drastic, low-key lighting, he manages to break down the idea of the existence of a perfect, American nuclear family and brings to light the nonexistence of class equality. The film revolves around a father and a schoolteacher, Ed Avery, who is diagnosed with a terminal illness. His only hope, according to his doctors, is to take a new, experimental medication: cortisone. However, it has adverse side-effects. He eventually begins to misuse his prescription, leading to severe mood swings, spouts of depression, and dangerous delusions of grandeur. Ed begins to feel “ten feet tall” and with this feeling, his desire to fit in with the bourgeoisie is multiplied. The film speaks out against conservative institutions like marriage and family, education, and religion and in doing so, highlights the issue of class and social anxiety. The movie is replete with metaphorical props that are pertinent to the aforementioned issue. One of these is Ed’s football. It is a representation of his short-lived glory days in high school and represents a time when he had some sort of power. This idea of power dynamics is prevalent throughout the movie as the football is pumped at the beginning as a sign of the farce of strength and nonchalance Ed puts on in front of…

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