English 185 Final Paper - Tan Page 1 The Use of...

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Tan The Use of Cinematography in Billy Morrissette’s Scotland, PA Billy Morrissette’s film, Scotland, PA provides a twist to the classic story of Macbeth while also tapping into the meanings that have always been inherent to the tragic play. The use of cinematography in the film translates Macbeth’s tragic downfall in the original play to concerns related to social mobility and class status. As such, Scotland, PA uses cinematography to capture how class division plays into Mac and Pat’s social entrapment and inability to become truly part of the middle class of society. By using a 1970s fast food restaurant setting, Scotland, PA establishes a platform to address issues of social mobility in an American context and to centralize on lower economic classes in society. The time period in which the film is set in proves relevant in its ability to uncover such issues, as the 1970s was a time of economic decline for the United States. In fact, the 1970s Fiscal Crisis and the dramatic increase of inflation resulted in mass unemployment. Additionally, some studies have found that not only has the level of social mobility in the U.S. remained limited, but it has also either been unchanged or reduced since the 1970s (Johnson, Brett & Deary). In a way, Morrissette redefines the tragedy presented in the play to illustrate issues that many have experienced during this particular time period. Rather than Macbeth and Lady Macbeth suffering from the consequences of being too greedy and overambitious, Mac and Pat’s tragedy is their failure of social mobility in that despite all their attempts to improve their class status, they remain trapped on both a social and geographical level. Page 1
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Tan The film is able to capture the couple’s tragedy by adapting and redefining the idea of movement from the original play. In Macbeth , the couple moves to different locations after Macbeth is crowned as King. From their house in Inverness, Scotland, which triggers the couple to pursue wrongful deeds, to the Dunsinane castle, a location that serves as final resting place for the couple, Macbeth centers on the connection of movement across physical locations. On the other hand, the idea of movement in Scotland, PA, is symbolic, as Professor Eric C. Brown notes in his article, Shakespeare, Class, and Scotland, PA, “For the film, in short, translates the play’s tragic ambitions into anxieties over class and social mobility” (149). Thus, Scotland, PA, represents movement metaphorically by depicting the couple’s movement across social classes but their eventual failure to maintain it. Social class is portrayed in the film through juxtaposing the houses of the characters, revealing their taste differences. Mac and Pat occupy the position of what Professor Elizabeth A.
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