Chinatown (1974) - Movie Review / Film Essay

For decades now, respect and power have been assessed along the lines of the quantifiable material possessions one may own. This then goes on to influence one’s success and the general ease of navigation through all challenges presented by life. Throughout all these occurrences, the plight of the poor has been greatly undermined and treated as a matter of minimal importance by those belonging to a higher social status and instead, we have comfortably settled into a society made up of ten millionaires and ten million beggars. This is both contrary to the basic human ethics as well as dangerous in the long run since a society should portray utmost unity and coexistence of its constituents.
I feel that this should not be the case at any one point. People do not have a choice of where or to what kind of family they are born to. If that was the case, it goes without saying that there would be no such thing as the poor or needy. Therefore, equal opportunities should be put forward and presented to all without any form of discrimination. This may be manifested in the form of; basic education, leadership, societal placing, business ventures; among other career opportunities. This will ensure that in the event of failure, one will only have themselves to blame.
The movie Chinatown stages a similar situation whereby two complete strangers meet after their dreams are crushed. They come from two almost opposite social backgrounds. Priya is a young and attractive young lady from a well off family who escapes to find a life of her own after discovering that her lover had only been manipulating her for her money as she is an heiress. Raj on the other hand is from a poor family and is a struggling upcoming artist toiling his way up with the dream of becoming a big Hollywood star. This is unfortunately not in line with what his father has in mind for his future and following an argument with him, Raj takes off to find a life of his own and chase his dream.
There are several planning and related issues depicted in this movie and a few will be discussed below.
Physical Setting between Poor and Rich Neighborhoods
This movie is staged in an Indian society and as we may all understand, they have a great social division barring the rich and the poor from any social interactions and even inter-marriage. Some of the evidence has been manifested physically and a number of comparisons are highlighted.
To start us off, we see that the affluent live in lavish homes such as the mansion belonging to Ms. Sonia Chang. It is an outrageously large home considering that it is only meant to house her, her son and several workers. It is also situated on a spacious compound lined with well manicured hedges and this is just a tip of the iceberg. On taking a deeper look inside the castle of a home, it is seen that there is an over-abundance of resources ranging from the expensive furniture to the luxury vehicles ready and at her disposal.
Contrary to this, the lower class citizens live in smaller homes. They are not spacious enough, and this forces them to have to share a small space among a number of inhabitants. The general outdoor landscape of their compounds is untidy and unkempt. To add to this, they own no vehicles.
The rich also have a battalion of workers at their beck and call readily waiting to provide any form of assistance. The poor on the other hand are not able to sustain workers to assist in maintenance as well as chores.
Slum Environment and Family Survival Including Coping Mechanism
All roads leading into and away from as well as those running within the lush neighborhoods inhabited by the rich are all perfectly lined with tarmac and surrounded by breathtaking and unpolluted scenery ranging from forests and well tended grass. This is however not the case in the lower class neighborhoods. The roads are filled with potholes and the environment is in a poor state.
In terms of their daily survival and coping mechanism, we see that the poor have to earnestly struggle to fend for themselves. The little they get is then shared among all family members and it is seen that a single individual is greatly relied on by several family members. They also have to struggle to achieve their dreams and aspirations since they are sometimes held back by their lack of resources in form of funding and inadequate social connection.
An example is the scenario in which Raj is trying so hard to launch his music career and dreams of one day becoming a Hollywood star but everything is holding him back. His father thinks that this is not a reasonable career choice as he needs something that can sustain their family and hopefully even draw them out of the abject poverty that they are currently living in.
The elite take the opposite path and experience an easy, stress free navigation through life. They utilize their resources carelessly and without any caution. This is furthered by habits such as gambling through which they lose a lot of money. Due to their financial stability and social connections, they also gain an extra advantage since they are able to easily achieve their dreams and aspirations. They can afford the best and highest quality training when desired.
We see that Ms. Sonia Chang is able to recover her kidnapped son much easily since she puts up an announcement which comes attached to a hefty cash reward.
Family Values, Ties and Social Network
Family values constitute a very vital aspect of and society as they form the framework of all moral decorum an individual will ever posses throughout their lives. Drawing illustrations from the movie, it is seen that the family values and ties are weaker among the rich. They are seen to lead ruthless lives indulging in activities of waste and vanity. They include gambling, excessive partying; just to name but a few.
The actions of Ms. Sonia’s workers who are of a low social status cannot however be ignored. They also allow greed for money to overcome them and this drives them to the point of committing murder to prevent their boss from changing the will after her kidnapped son turns up.
In terms of social network, the rich are well connected and are able to get away with some of their crimes unpunished. We see this in the inhabitants of Chinatown during the murder investigation. Unlike them, the poor are not able to evade trouble and Raj suffers as a key suspect in the murder investigation until the truth is finally discovered and his innocence is finally proven.

Essay: On 'Chinatown' - The New York Times

Chinatown: a movie where a man's nose is split in two with a jackknife. A movie where a woman ends up with a bloody hole where her eye had been. Where friendly farmers wield guns. Where private investigators are jaded. Where nothing is what it seems… because of some seriously shady goings-on.


Chinatown movie analysis essay

Chinatown takes the classic, seedy L.A. film noir and makes it even seedier. We see things all noir fans know and love: the slick P.I., the mysterious lady who might be a murderer, and corruption in high places. But the movie's dark secret turns out to be even darker and more messed up than you'd ever expect. Even if you're the type of person who knows whodunit at the beginning of every Liam Neeson revenge movie, you're in for a (nasty) surprise.