Gary Ross (Big, Seabiscuit) wrote, directed, and produced Pleasantville (1998), a fantasy comedy-drama. Tobey Maguire plays David, a teen enraptured with the saccharine, 1950s television show “Pleasantville.” The fictional, black-and-white show depicts a simpler life with happy residents and wholesome values. When David and his twin sister, Jennifer (Reese Witherspoon), struggle over a magical remote, they are transported to the world of “Pleasantville.” Once they are there, David insists that they maintain the plotline of the television show. However, Jennifer rebels and changes the course of events in mild-mannered Pleasantville. Influenced by sex, rock ‘n’ roll, literature, and art, some residents begin to question their humdrum lives and inquire about the world outside their town. The Pleasantville residents slowly see vibrant color appear in their town from green cars to colorful flowers. Even the residents start changing from black-and-white to color. The shifting values and invading color set off a clash between the traditional, black-and-white residents and their “colored” neighbors. When confronted with bigotry and ignorance, David makes a stand to show Pleasantville the beauty of real, colorful life. The supporting cast includes Joan Allen, William H. Macy, Jeff Daniels, J.T. Walsh, and TV legend Don Knotts.
The real star of the film is the striking visuals. While color processing of motion pictures and television shows is commonplace today, the film’s use of spot color was revolutionary when it was released in 1998. Ross uses the contrast between the black-and-white, traditional Pleasantville and the seeping color as an allegory about repression, civil rights, and changing values. Cinematographer John Lindley balances rich, black-and-white tones with striking spot color in lush, Technicolor-style hues. Plaid umbrellas, cherry blossoms, and modern art paintings against a greyscale landscape provide unforgettable eye candy that can’t be missed.
The DVD includes special features including a commentary tracks, cast and crew biographies, and a behind-the-scenes featurette.
Pleasantville received three Oscar nominations: Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Best Costume Design, and Best Music, Original Dramatic Score.
Pleasantville is one of the many films held by the Ort Library. Films are searchable in the Library's catalog, and can be requested by clicking on the yellow "Request" button. Log in using your 14-digit Library barcode number (located on your University ID), and your last name. You will then be able to select your pick-up location. The Library will notify you via email when your item has arrived for pick-up. If you need assistance with this process, please contact the Circulation Desk at 301-687-4395.