The movies W and Giant are American films with similar themes. Giant is a film production set in the American state of Texas with a pre-World War II timeline spurning from the 1920s through several generations. Owned by Warner studios, the movie was directed by the legendary George Stevens based on a screenplay adapted by Fred Guiol and Ivan Moffat. Key actors in the portrayal include James Dean, Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson who play the main characters. The story trails through the transgenerational tale of a Texan Ranching Family the Benedicts, and is an affirmation of the close knit family fabric that holds them together. The family is under the overall care of Jordan Benedict Jr also known as Bick who meets the love of his life Leslie on a trip to Maryland to buy a horse he has been eyeing for a While-War Winds. They fall in love and the passions are nothing short of a fairytale causing her to abandon her affections for the British Diplomat Sir David Karfrey (Vilanueva, 34).
W is a 2008 American film production which is loosely based on the life of the former United States president George W. Bush. Oliver stone was the director and the producer. The film that has Josh Brolin depicting the former U.S. president was written by Stanley Weiser and has Elizabeth Banks, Ellen Burstyn, Thandie Newton, Richard Dreyfuss, James Cromwell, Scott Glenn, and Jeffrey Wright as the support cast. As a child, George had a dream of becoming a baseball player. Later, he was accepted into Yale University and pledged Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity. During this time Bush is portrayed a free-spirited, happy-go-lucky young man with no aspirations to be part of his familys political lineage. George later graduates from university and takes up a job in an oil patch in Texas. Thanks to his fathers connections, he is accepted into Havard Business School but while on an alcohol bender, he crashes his car into the family estate and further straining his relationship with his father. Bush ran for congress in 1977 but lost to Kent Hance (Smith, 22). Although he lost the election, he broke the state record for the number of republican votes.
In the movie Giant, Bick and Leslie settle back on the family ranch as is custom of the rich Texan way of life and it is here that trouble starts to brew because the head of the household Jordans elder sister Luz Benedict hates Leslie to bits and does not stand the presence of her in law. She tries to undermine and intimidate the former socialite at every turn and the end result is Luzs own death when she painfully digs Leslies horse using her spurs all to get back at Leslie but is thrown off. Here we are brought to terms with the harsh rivalries that exist between the members of a family. One would expect that members of the same family would be accommodating and forgiving in spite of their differences but rather what we see is that Luz was willing to harm Leslies horse just out of sheer cruelty and malice. The rivalries inherent in families are also seen in W where George and Jeb Bush are depicted as rivals. Everything that George does is compared to Jeb. Jeb is seen as the good son while George is the black sheep of the family. When George was asked by his father to join the campaign trail with him, he comments that he was only asked because Jeb was unavailable.
The story of Giant progresses and the impact of oil to the Texan way of life are brought to the fore front when as part of her will Luz allocates a portion of their land to a farmhand Jett whom Bick brutally despises and tries to buy back the land from by any means. Jett is relentless not to sell the land and his unyielding efforts leads him to an oil discovery that will change his life forever. Knowing full well the implications of this discovery, he walks to the Benedict family home drenched in oil from the gusher and proclaims hate on Bick pledging that he will be richer than them. Such a show is inappropriate and Jett acts dishonorably towards Leslie because he knows the power the oil gives him over the others. Here we see that oil is powerful enough to even change the way a man perceives himself since it makes Jett feel invincible and on top of the world (Vilanueva, 38). The impact oil in Texas is also seen in the movie W. After George graduated from Harvard he went back to Texas and worked on an oil patch. This was seen as natural for a person of wealthy standing to do once they completed their education. He used money from his father to start his oil company which was his main occupation before joining politics. The oil industry was at the time viewed as one of the most successful ventures. This may be seen as one of the reasons the oil industry in Texas continued to grow in the 1970s and 1980s.
True to his word in the movie Giant, oil changes Jetts life and he becomes a very wealthy man to the extent that he even builds his own hotel and a financial empire from the proceeds of the oil well. It is in this light that we see how oil is transforming many of the local folk from a society of ranchers and farmers to a mining community. In W, after George graduated and returned to Texas he started an oil company which employed Texans. From Giant, it is evident that in the 1920s oil money is changing lives and many are turning towards it except the conservative traditional ranchers who are in it because of the family pride and legacy that comes with working on the family ranch. Bick is one of these and wants his children to follow in the same footsteps. In W, working on the oil patch provided George with the opportunity to provide employment and it was around this time that he begins to change his behavior. Also, in the years preceding his run for president, George is seen to have gathered a large amount of wealth. This is because of his successful oil company. This further cements the economic impact of oil in Texas.
Bicks children in Giant have their own interests and do not join him on the ranch. It is clear that society is changing as it is. In the old times, Bicks children would have no option but to live and work in the family farm but now Jordy wants to become a doctor and Judy is interested in animal husbandry much to the disapproval of their parents. Such a sharp divide in opinion breeds tension and quarrel in the Bick household. The parents however realize that they cannot force their children into following the family legacy. The same can be said for George in W. As the movie begins George is seen to be rebellious and the black sheep of the family. He goes against his familys strong Christian beliefs. He consumes alcohol and is even involved in an accident at the familys estate. This is frowned upon by the rest of the Bush family. He also does not take education as seriously as is expected of him. He gets accepted into Harvard Business School because of his fathers connections. He is constantly compared to his brother Jeb as he himself even noted that had Jeb been available during his fathers presidential re-election campaign, his father would not have asked him to be a part of his team. However, as the movie progresses George starts going along with his family values, becoming a born-again Christian and joining politics (Smith, 29). This shift in his life choices are an indication of the different outcomes that rebellion and obedience have.
There is also a theme of change of society thought in both movies. As seen in Giant racism was prevalent in the early 20th century. There are fundamental differences between how Caucasians and Hispanics are treated. The Hispanics are treated as second class citizens and are despised by some of the white folk in the area. First instances of this are seen when Leslie bumps into Angel Obregon II and sees how the Mexican workers live in poor conditions. Jetts hotel staff also insult Jordys wife Juana and the result is a fierce fight that draws in not only Jordy but also his father Bick who stands up for his daughter in law. It is evident that Bick is brought out as a strong defender of Hispanic rights when he fights for a Mexican couple from being thrown out of Sarges diner. The owner even insults Juana and her son, this despicable act leads to a fistfight between Sarge and Bicky. Here, the elder Benedict stands up for his family from abuse on the basis of their racial origin. He acknowledges the fact that Hispanics are no less human than the Caucasians and deserve equal treatment in line with the ideals of the American dream. The movie ends with a depiction of Bicks and Leslies grandchildren the white one and the one of mixed race (Vilanueva 42). From the film, it is emphasized that the two are equal before the eyes of God and in spite of the color differences they are both true Texans. The change in W came in the change in religion and how it was conducted. Bushs election as president of the United States in 2000 illustrated the role of religion in the countrys politics. President Bush became a born-again Christian before running for president. He spoke about God in his public speeches and talked about his spirituality openly. In doing so, he attracted the vote of the Republican Party which is largely consisted of Christians. In 1977 when he ran for the governor seat he was not successful running under the same Republican Party. It can be concluded that religion was a factor in the election of Bush as president. In comparison to the 1920s where religion was a private matter, Bush openly speaks about his religion and the impact it had on him in one of his campaign speeches. After George graduated from Harvard he went back to Texas and worked on an oil patch. This was seen as natural for a person of wealthy standing to do once they completed their education (Michener, 2002). He used money from his father to start his oil company which was his main occupation before joining politics. The oil industry was at the time viewed as one of the most successful ventures. This may be seen as one of the reasons the oil industry in Texas continued to grow in the 1970s and 1980s (Michener, 2002).
Despite the movies being set in a different time, they are vital in depicting the lifestyle changes, the growth of the characters, the similarities, and the differences between life in the 1920s and that in the late 20th century. In as much as they might be seen as different times, the values of love, family, the Texas oil industry and societal equality are evident in both movies. The main differences between the two critical times in history are religion, where religion is practiced more openly in the late 20th century compared to the 1920s.
ADDIN EN.REFLIST Vilanueva, Tino. Scene from the movie Giant. Curbstone Press, 1993. Print book.
Smith, Jeff. The Presidents We Imagine: Two Centuries of White House Fictions on the Page, on the Stage, Onscreen, and Online. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2008. Print.
Michener, James A. Texas. New York: Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2002. Print.
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