Fences is a film about a black family in Pittsburgh during the 1950s. The story of the films centers around a period when American culture was still emerging and civil rights campaigns and foundations were still in their infancy. Racism was also an issue for Americans, and bigotry was a fact of life. The film is representative of the walls that the characters erect within themselves in order to defend their interests (Scott). Fences depict how betrayal, clinging to the past, and illusions will devastate a family and tear down all boundaries of intimacy.
The film focuses on Troy who is a 53-year old man living with Rose his wife, their son Cory and Gabriel, his younger brother who is mentally ill. He works as a trash collector but questions why the blacks do not work as truck drivers. He later becomes the first black truck driver thus successfully overcoming race discrimination. Rose wants him to build a fence around their homestead and Cory and Bono, Troy’s workmate helps him in work (Henderson).
As the events unfold, Troy denies Cory the chance to participate in college football for a possibility of scholarship citing racial discrimination. Troy then talks to Cory’s couch that his son will not join the football an event which causes a fight between the father and son. Cory is eventually kicked out of the house and goes on his way to join the marines. Troy’s affair with Alberta is known when she gets pregnant, and Rose refused to call Troy her husband although she agreed to take care of the child after the death of Alberta. After seven years, Troy dies due to heart attack and Cory and his daughter sing for him during his burial. His younger brother also shows up at the funeral to open the gates of heaven for him, eventually succeeding (Henderson).
A family is supposed to be a place where love and protection prevails. The bond can, however, be destroyed the moment betrayal sets in as it takes away everyone’s joy by breaking trust and affection. Infidelity is a common betrayal in the family set up, often affecting both the spouses and children. The victims would often blame themselves for trusting their partners and believing in them. As a result, when trust is broken, it is hard to gain it back because the scars never go away (Schoenfeld). Similarly, after Troy’s affair was exposed, his family started falling apart. He gets into fights with his son and kicks him out of the house. Likewise, his wife dissociates from him amid her attempts to maintain the family’s image.
Also, the film illustrates that having past beliefs may cloud judgment thus preventing one from seeing change and believing that societies can develop for the better. Past experiences affect the decisions that individuals make especially in matters related to the family life, and more so the future of children. It creates delusions which hinder personal and family development eventually leading to tension and mistrust. This observation is exemplified in the movie when Troy denies his son the chance to participate in football for fear of discrimination. In the end, his actions eventually destroy the father-son relationship (Colburn).
The movie Fences is intense and shows the struggles of Troy a black family man, who strives to overcome racial discrimination. When Troy crushes his son’s dreams of joining college through a football scholarship a rift develops between the two. A build up tension also ensues when his affair is exposed leading to fights, and eventually, the family disintegrates. At the end of the day, it becomes clear to the viewer that the past experiences tend to define one’s character today. Indeed, previous adverse decisions, negative thoughts, and failure to embrace change appear to be the greatest contributors towards strained relationships.
Colburn, Randall. "Film Review: Fences." 22 December 2016. Consequences of Sounds. https://consequenceofsound.net/2016/12/film-review-fences/. 19 March 2018.
Henderson, Odie. "Fences ." 23 December 2016. Roger Ebert . https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/fences-2016. 19 March 2018.
Schoenfeld, Paul. "The Impact of Betrayal... ." 10 February 2014. The Everett Clinic. http://www.everettclinic.com/blog/impact-betrayal. 21 March 2018.
Scott, A. O. "Review: Beneath the Bombast, ‘Fences’ Has an Aching Poetry." 15 December 2016. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/15/movies/fences-review-Denzel-Washington-viola-davis.html. 19 March 2018.
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