“It’s the sense of touch… We’re always behind this metal and glass. I think we miss that touch so much, that we crash into each other, just so we can feel something. ” Paul haggis portrayal of American society uses this “sense of touch” to leave a distinct mark on his film. I agree that to a large extent Paul Haggis’ mark is seen in his films, his mark is most widely seen in Crash and In The Valley Of Elah. Haggis uses film techniques such as lighting and camera angles as well as symbolism and the idea of racial discrimination, to put his mark on his films. Haggis’ mark on the film Crash is shown through the use of symbolism.
In Crash we are shown the directors portrayal of American society. Racism is a universal issue, brought out by separations in society. Haggis uses symbols to bring out the main idea of the film, which is the idea of racial discrimination. Christian symbolism can be seen within Crash and also in In The Valley Of Elah. In Crash the crucifix symbolizes the idea of the conscience, doing what is right or wrong. This is seen when Graham has just spoke with Flanagan and has to make a decision if he will do the right thing or not, “all I need to do to make this all disappear is to frame a potentially innocent man? The film technique of lighting is used at this point, the light is behind him slightly shadowing his figure, and over his right shoulder through the light we see a crucifix appear. This scene also shows the idea of good and evil, with the light trying to creep in whilst casting a shadow on half of his face. Christian symbolism is shown in In The Valley Of Elah when Hank the main protagonist of the story talks to a young boy about the bible story, David and Goliath.
The story told symbolizes over coming adversity and fear, Hank talks about facing “your inner monsters” if you’re not afraid and show courage anything can be accomplished. The idea of racial discrimination is used, with a combination of film techniques such as lighting and camera angles, to show Paul Haggis’ distinct mark on his films Crash and In the Valley of Elah. This idea of racial discrimination is seen in Crash when Cameron and Christine are pulled over by Ryan just because they are “black”, “It’s about time [Christine] you realize what it’s like to be black. The camera angle is a high angle shot when the police are approaching the car, to make Cameron and Christine seem vulnerable and powerless, which they are against authority. Also the use of lighting is very restricted, as the only light for this scene is a lamppost, which the car pulled over by. This one ring of light again brings forth the idea of good verses evil. The Film Crash effectively portrays many levels of discrimination, such as corruption in authority and cultural stereotypes.
However haggis creates an inherent look at racial discrimination in both Crash and In The Valley Of Elah. We see this idea of racial discrimination in In The Valley Of Elah when Hank finds out that private Robert Ortiez his one of his son mike’s friends. Hank now assuming because Robert is Hispanic that he must of had something to do with mikes death as they think it is to do with drugs. However this accusation proves to be wrong, when Hank finds out that three of mikes closest friends were the murderers, “Wouldn't it be funny if the devil looked just like you [Hank]? I absolutely agree to a large extent that Haggis leaves his distinct mark on his films, Crash and In The Valley Of Elah. He does this through Symbolism and the idea of racial discrimination, as well as the combination of film technique, lighting and camera angles. Haggis uses these to portray American society in his films, he explores society at different levels and touches the issue that many people have blinded themselves to the racism in American society, ”we miss that touch so much, that we crash into each other, just so we can feel something. ”