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Pretty Woman Analysis for English Film Class

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Pretty Woman

Film making is an art form that personifies the process of telling a story. It is through the industry of film making that many producers or directors innovate and create some of the greatest films in our history. Pretty Woman is one of such a film that has captured the hearts of many viewers as it tells a story of a down-on-her-luck prostitute and a wealthy, handsome businessman, who meet in most extenuating circumstances yet fall for each other and create a love story. This paper will analyze the film Pretty Woman discussing the films specific areas of storytelling, mise en scene, and genre, its impact on society, and finally the analysis and interpretation.

Every film has a story to tell. . Looking at the story is finding out what happens in a film while the plot is telling the viewer how it happens (Goodykoontz and Jacobs, 2011). Additionally, a plot is identified by the deliberate "series of events that give a dramatic and thematic, emotional significance to the story" ("Short Story Elements, para 3"). The story in Pretty Woman is one in which two people from different backgrounds meet and fall in love. Each becomes the one to rescue the other from the life they live.

The story of the film Pretty Woman has a fantasy theme with a fairy tale ending much like the story Cinderella: the type of story of a woman of low means being swept off her feet by a wealthy prince, living happily ever after (Pretty Woman a...). The story within this film is almost like a three act screen play with a beginning, middle, and an end. "A disarming modern-day fairy tale that made the actor, Julia Roberts, a superstar" the narrative style of Pretty Woman, is told in chronological order and takes place in Los Angeles, California ("Pretty woman synopsis,"). The opening scene sets the stage. Edward Lewis, played by Richard Gere, a very wealthy lawyer, whose business is buying and selling companies, or raiding them, meets prostitute, Vivian Ward, played by Julia Roberts, who is hired to be his companion for a week (Marshall, 1990). It is a business deal between the two that forges each person's world together in the most unlikely of circumstances.

Edward Lewis' lawyer, Stuckey played by Jason Alexander, is giving a very important party with Edward Lewis as the featured guest in Beverly Hills with an elite guest list. Edward is one of the most eligible millionaires, yet he is discontented with his personal relationship (Marshall, 1990). Vivian Ward's segment of the opening scene indicates that she is from the lower streets of Hollywood, California called Hollywood Boulevard (Marshall, 1990). The lighting is low, the crowd resembles the lost people trying to find their way: pimps, drug dealers, and the like (Marshall, 1990). Her role has turned to a lifestyle to make quick money to cover the rent, and becomes a prostitute on Hollywood Boulevard. From the beginning, it is evident that each character has an internal conflict. Not a surprise since without a conflict there would be no story (Goodykoontz & Jacobs, 2011).

Vivian has an inner conflict of becoming who she wants to be, and wants the fairy tale, of being swept away by a knight in shining armor. As the scene begins, one man's is chanting on the streets of Hollywood Boulevard, "What is your dream? What is your dream? Everyone has a dream!" (Marshall,1990). She needs money so she succumbs to simply making money any way she can without regards for the implication on her moral being. She has much more to offer than selling her body, as Edward lets her know later in the movie in an intimate moment between them (Marshall, 1990). Yet her conflict is similar to Edward's. He states in one scene on the balcony of the presidential suite that they "both screw people for money" (Marshall, 1990). Thus, his inner conflict is that he likes to tear apart but not build anything. Both characters are guarded and in it for the "business". Their chance meeting creates the need to face their "struggle within one's self; [where each] must make some decision, overcome pain, quiet their temper, resist an urge, etc" (" Short story elements, para 2"). What makes this film so believable and endearing in its category of a romantic comedy are the character actors. Each actor embraces their respective role played with a clear chemistry between them.

Any good film, this one in particular, must have good acting to make it believable. The actor's are what brings the story to life and gives the character meaning to the storyline by the representation to the characters. In the film, Pretty Woman, the actors are Julia Roberts as Vivian Ward, Richard Gere as Edward Lewis, Ralph Bellamy as James Morse, Jason Alexander as Phillip Stuckey, and Hector Elizondo as Barney Thompson (Marshall, 1990). All are character actors in this film, or are"adapting to the needs of each script and director they work with" and make the characters one in which the viewer can relate to and see one (Goodykoontz & Jacobs). Gary Marshall, the director, in essence, created the charm of these characters: "allegedly planned as a grim, downbeat drama until Garry Marshall came on board as director; "Pretty Woman" has been transformed in all senses of the word into a classic fairy tale, a la "Cinderella" (Putnam, 1999, para 6).

As method actors, Gere and Roberts is the quintessential couple that is from different ends of the spectrum. He is a rich businessman and she is a beautiful girl down on her luck: the essence of the unlikelihood that each character would meet and fall in love. However, through good character development within the mise en scene and each parties overall persona at that time of the film being made, the acting is notable to the film's success. Richard Gere, known in previous roles as a gigolo, in Pretty Woman, "branches out here to play a more quiet, almost shy, but still alluring, character that believably could sweep Julia Roberts off her feet, and vice versa (Putnam, 1999). Julia Roberts wasn't a well known actress at the time of this film, which helped to play into her character of little known Vivian, just an everyday girl with nothing significant in her life but her looks. Yet it was this style of acting, "based on the teachings of Konstantin Stanislavsky and popularized by Lee Strasberg, that requires that actors draw on their own memories and experiences to reach the heart of a character, so that they more genuinely feel the emotions they're portraying instead of just pretending to" (Goodykoontz & Jacobs, chapter 3.7, para 1).

One example of this is in the scene where Edward gives Vivian his credit cards to shop on Rodeo Drive (Marshall, 1990). She



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