The character of Superman first appeared in the Action Comic book in the 1930’s. The movie Superman, 1978 is the story of a young boy from a planet called Krypton who landed in a field and was found and adopted by a children less couple. He had great powers such as speed, strength and the ability to fly. The movie portrayed an awkward, nerdy news reporter who was secretly a super hero trying to woo a smart, confident fellow news reporter. The plot of the movie is a guy tries to get the girl while anonymously protecting good from evil by battling for “truth, justice and the American way.”
I noticed several patterns emerge in the movie through the characters, symbolism and themes. The characters cast were believable and fit perfectly in the story. Clark was quirky, smart and kind with a strong sense of morals/values. Even though as Superman he was confident, handsome, and charming his sense of moral/values is still evident. Lois was an attractive, sarcastic, young women who was career driven and a hopeless romantic. Lex Luthor was arrogant, conniving and intelligent. Even Otis was cast perfectly as an overweight, tweed jacket wearing, and moronic comment making, Nincompoop. The symbolism is displayed through colors and music. The strong colors of red, blue and green represented key features the directed wanted the audience to pick up on. The music from the beginning set an “out of this world” theme and transitioned perfectly through the scenes. Chirping birds, rooster crowing equals new day, slow and dramatic, fast and exciting. There was even goofy music that played when Otis was, well…being Otis.
The color red was very prominent as an important color through the entire movie. Young Clark Kent was seen wearing the color red at the beginning of the movie which later turned out to be the color of Superman’s cape. Red was also used to show the audience something was going to happen when it appeared. It was the color of lighting used during Krypton’s explosion, his parent’s truck, the tractor when his dad died, the helicopter, Miss Tessmaucher’s dress, and Lois’ car are all examples. The color green represented evil/criminals in the movie. Although kryptonite was an obvious evil, there were subtle incidences of green including: articles of clothing, money, Lex Luthor’s swimming pool, lighting around criminals/criminal acts. Even the prison yard spotlight that was shining on Lex Luthor and Otis was green. The theme of crime doesn’t pay and where good overcomes evil was shown in several scenes including: the purse thief in the alley, jewelry thief on side of the building and the ending where Superman foils Lex Luthor’s plan to use missiles to destroy California.
I believe since there are so many different cultural aspects in this film, there is something for everyone across the high and low cultural spectrum. Science-fiction, love story, comedy, action, drama, suspense, are all covered in this film. I found that watching this movie as a child, as an adult and then as a critic were completely different experiences for me. As a child I remember being in awe of the special effects. Watching Superman use his powers to save good people from the bad guys and being sad at the part where Superman couldn’t save Lois were real feelings. As an adult, I enjoyed watching it with my children and understanding more of the plot, admiring how handsome Christopher Reeves was and how tragic his real life situation was. The special effects of Superman’s special powers were too unrealistic. However, even as an adult the thought of a hero saving people from harm still gave me a warm, fuzzy feeling. As a critic, I viewed the film through a technical scope. The special effects were actually quite remarkable given the technology at the time. I wondered how they pulled off the stunts/camera/scenes before they had CGI’s and other tools the film industry uses now. I appreciated things like the casting of the characters, sounds, music, and camera angles. Most importantly I noticed a deeper understanding of the theme. Overall, the theme that good triumphs evil, by a being truthful, caring, productive member of society is a wonderful concept!