Cool Hand Luke Movie Critique: Courage and Self-Respect Essay

761 Words Oct 29th, 2008 4 Pages
Cool Hand Luke directed by the reputable Stuart Rosenberg and nominated for four Oscars is a tragic tale of an ordinary individual rising up the courage to oppose the establishment, thus becoming a hero. Cool Hand Luke weaves a rich tapestry of the prison life on both sides of the establishment and the injustices of the system. In short Cool Hand Luke is a movie that focuses on the struggles of a single courageous man and his quest for freedom. After being incarcerated for a petty crime and sent to a chain-gang jail, Lucas Jackson (Paul Newman) has risen up the ranks of the establishment and become the prisoners’ idol as well as the guard’s enemy. Jacksons’s contrasting relationship with the guards and the prisoners is an important …show more content…
Unfortunately fate thrusts him into that position in which he becomes the prison idol, even though all he wanted to do was to live on his own terms. Paul Newman portrays Luke as a very believable character. Unlike the other prisoners, Luke refuses to conform to the rules of the system. It is his stubbornness and courage to never give up that eventually leads to his downfall. However, once the veil is lifted from Luke’s character we see him for what he truly is, a desperate and deadened man no longer willing to do what it takes to satisfy his other inmates. Luke’s death in the end leaves you with a bitter taste in your mouth; it seems to send the message that if the unbeatable Luke can’t break the system no one can. Nonetheless fighting against something you don’t believe in even in the face of defeat is a true example of courage. This film was set in one of the southern states of America in 1940’s, the setting adds to the overall ambiance of the movie because everyone is so isolated from the rest of society. The jail house is a society in its own right because within the jail there exists a social hierarchy much like one you would find in the other major cities. The prisoners labour in the fields all day, cutting grass and tarring the roads. The prisoners never wield a weapon more dangerous than a dull blade to cut the grass while all the guards hold guns and rifles. Despite this Luke courageously fights against the

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