Crash Filmanalys - English

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uppladdat: 2008-12-07
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Producer: Paul Haggis
Length: 1h 52 min


Jean Cabot - Sandra Bullock
Detective Graham Waters - Don Cheadle
Officer John Ryan - Matt Dillon
Ria - Jennifer Esposito
Rick Cabot - Brendan Fraser
Terrence Howard - Cameron Thayer
Anthony - Cris "Ludacris" Bridges
Christine Thayer - Thandie Newton
Officer Tommy Hansen - Ryan Philippe
Peter Waters - Larenz Tate
Daniel Ruiz - Michael Peña


The story spans 36 hours and is told in Los Angeles, where we have the rich white couple Rick and Jean Cabot and their black counterparts Cameron and Christine Thayer. Then there are the law enforcers Officers John Ryan and Tommy Hansen and Detectives Graham Waters and Ria. On the other side of the law we see the black Anthony and Peter. Last but not least, the Mexican family-father and locksmith Daniel Ruiz. These are all involved in a story spanning one and a half day, where all faces racism and bigotry. Our story begins with Detective Graham and Ria at the scene of a murder. Later on we see the events that unfolded the day before. Among other things Anthony and Peter car-jacks Rick and Jean, Officer John Ryan molests Christine Thayer and Daniel Ruiz is discriminated because he looks like a gang banger. Our story ends with the revealing of the victim as Peter, who had been shot by Officer Tommy Hansen.

I strongly believe that this movie was filmed at an existing spot, since it would be an extreme waste of money to set up a studio where you recreate something you could do in reality.

The overall theme of the movie is the fear that we experience through racism and bigotry. Many of the characters have racial prejudices, acted out or simply spoken.

How does it begin?

The first voice you hear is Don Cheadle's character, which at the time is blurred and unidentifiable. We see his face when the camera refocuses, and his profile is sharpened. During the rest of the time, it focuses a lot on Cheadle, as he carries out his short monologue that began in the credits. What he is currently saying doesn't give us any information about who he is.

However, three minutes after his monologue began we have learned that his name is Graham, and that he and his Hispanic girlfriend have experienced a car crash. She walks out of the car, and starts arguing with the Asian woman whom she crashed with. This is the first time that we experience racism in the movie, as she makes fun the Asians poor English and reversely, hears that Mexicans doesn't know how to drive. As the women continue to argue, Graham steps out of the vehicle and walks towards what is a crime scene, and we learn that they both are detectives. To me, the movie seems to be descending, however not so fast.

The Story

As the movie depicts several storylines parallel to each other, there are several "physical" turning points. These scenes combined do however create a story driven turning point. One of the most important scenes, taking place near the end of the movie, is the one with Officer Tommy Hansen and Peter Waters. It is late, and Peter is walking down the street, trying to hitch a ride. Tommy spots him, and picks him up to give him a ride. While in the car, they start to argue over something Peter laughed at. When he reaches into his pocket to reveal his reason for laughter, Officer Tommy then suspects it's a gun and shoots him. He then sees that what was actually in the pocket. A statue of Saint Christian, similar to the one on his dashboard. Through this scene, we are shown the fact that even how much you deny it, you always have some prejudices.

Another scene that reveals some changes is a scene with Officer John Ryan and Christine Thayer. While being in the car with his partner, they spot a car that has toppled over. John gets out of the car and he runs towards it. When he gets into the car, they both realize who the other one was. You see, early on in the film, Christine performs fellatio on her husband while he is driving. They are then pulled over by John and his then partner Tommy. Under the pretence of searching for a weapon, he molests her. Now in the car wreck, she rejects him and wants someone else to save her. John calms her down, and successfully recovers her from the car wreck. My mind was quite split over this scene. On one hand, he had just saved a woman from certain death, but on the other hand, he had molested her early on and he had been racially discriminating towards black people. Now that he does something as heroic as this, my head just twisted.

The movie ends where it began, with the car-crash in the beginning. We now know that the victim Detective Graham sees is his own brother. We also see Anthony dropping of illegal Asian immigrants in Chinatown, giving one of them 40 dollars to chop suey for all of them. The one story that I see has the best potentiality of continuance is Graham's, where he would be dealing with the investigation of his brother’s death. Of course the lives of the others have changed, take for example Jean. After she had fallen down the stairs, she realised that none of her friends were real friends. They were too busy taking care of themselves. Her only real friend was their Hispanic maid Maria, whom she had fired earlier. And then we have Tommy. Since he is now a murderer, he'll have to try to cover up his mistake. The others however would probably go on with their lives as normal.

The Characters

The "main" characters in this movie are very different from each other. We have for example the white upper-class couple Rick and Jean Cabot, who are both about 35-40 years of age. While Rick leaves his racial stance open to interpretation, Jean is openly bigoted, and these prejudices escalates after they had been car-jacked by Anthony and Peter, who are both black. They are about 20-25 years old. While Anthony is very pessimistic about the racial problems in L.A, Peter humorously scoffs at his paranoia. They both "work" as car-jackers, and bring the cars to chop-shop owner Lucien for payment. Of both of them, Peter is the more humorous one, who has learned to live with these issues. Anthony on the other hand is more serious. But as right he might in his opinions, he does nothing to prevent them.

Anthony: That waitress sized us up in two seconds. We're black and black people don't tip. So she wasn't gonna waste her time. Now somebody like that? Nothing you can do to change their mind.
Peter: So, uh... how much did you leave?
Anthony: You expect me to pay for that kind of service?

This only leads to a downward spiral, where neither part does anything to prevent it. He also shows his racism in a scene where he and Peter are trying to car-jack a Lincoln Navigator. He had previously stated that he would never rob a black man. Seeing this luxurious vehicle, he never expected a black man to own one. But when they got to the front door, they see that the man in the front seat is black.

Which takes us to the introduction of Cameron and Christine Thayer. Cameron is a TV-director and as such, they are quite wealthy. Both of them have also been more fortunate than most African Americans during their childhoods. He on his hand cares a lot about his reputation as a celebrity profile. This is shown at its fullest when Christine is being molested. Instead of reacting aggressively to what's happening, he remains passive to Christine’s despair and anger.

Officer Tommy Hansen is a white, 20-25 years old low profile person, with nothing really distinct about him. When I first saw the movie, I thought he was the something like the "snotty-nosed" character of it. Later on however my theory proved itself to be wrong. The other officer, John Ryan is also white and around 30-35 years old. During the first half of the movie, his behaviour disgusted me. He was a racist through and through. Though in the later half he, as did most, change.

Detective Graham is a black detective about the same age as Officer John. If you consider the circumstances, then he is a very calm and methodical person who thinks before he acts. We never learn so much about his partner Ria, who is a Latina detective around 30 years old.

There are no major differences between the men and women in this film. You can however draw similarities between Jean and Christine. They are both wealthy beings, and at times they are angry with their respective husbands because they do as they want them to. Christine however lacks more of the discrimination and bigotry that Jean has. Their husbands Rick and Cameron are also slightly similar to each other, as they both are public profiles trying to save their skins after the car-jacking respectively during the molestation.


I think what the movie is trying to tell us is that we all have prejudices. Minor or large, they're always there. And due to these, people are being harassed and racially discriminated.

Internal plot

Everyone in the movie deals with their own issues. John for example has to take care of his father who possibly suffers from prostate cancer but has been given the diagnosis bladder infection, despite the failure of his medication. This angers John a lot, and this anger in turn manifests in prejudice, which we can see when he shows a racist attitude towards an HMO employee during a phone call concerning his father.

Shaniqua (the HMO employee): Mr. Ryan, your father has been to the clinic three times in the last month. He's been treated for a urinary tract infection that is by no means an emergency. Now, if you have any more questions about your HMO plan, why don't you make an appointment to come in between ten and four, Monday through Friday.
Officer John: What does my father do about sleeping tonight?
Shaniqua: I don't know. I'm not a doctor.
Officer John: I wanna talk to your supervisor...
Shaniqua: I am my supervisor!
Officer John: Yeah? What's your name?
Shaniqua: Shaniqua Johnson
Officer John: Shaniqua. Big fucking surprise that is!
Shaniqua: Oh! (She hangs up)

Detective Graham on his hand has to deal with a case concerning a suspected racist white cop shooting a corrupt black one. He also has to take care of his drug-addicted mother by filling up her fridge with groceries. She had also made him promise to find his criminal brother Peter. Christine Thayer has to deal with the molestation and her anger that her husband didn't do anything to prevent it. Cameron as a TV-director realises that the producers of his show propagate racist stereotypes about black people. After the molestation Officer Tommy Hansen wishes to change partner. The police chief (who is black) explains that he cannot, because being black and firing a racist could cost him his and Tommy’s jobs. He tells him that he should wish to patrol alone due to”uncontrollable flatulence". As the everyday life goes on, this movie doesn't depict an ending to these issues. It was nothing special about these characters or events. It was just an excerpt from life.


Music and lights:

The lighting is mostly used to create a natural effect and to make the movie more "real-life". Music is often used during eventful or meaningful scenes, to emphasize that the scene is needed to propel the story forward. The music itself is very ambient, with no epic orchestration to once again stress the reality of it all. You see, take away all of the music from the movie, and you would have something left. The movie in itself really doesn't need the music. Because the movie would all let us think for ourselves. Music in film is the same as the thoughts in books. They often tell us how to feel or think about a certain event or person. Take it away, and you would have a completely different result. The movie would seem like something more similar to a documentary than a fictional film.

Other effects

At times, they use different camera effects to depict the feeling of the scene. For example when Daniels daughter is shot, they use a slight dolly zoom (the foreground is still while the background moves closer) to emphasize the meaning of the scene. In the opening credits and the first scene where the characters have a experienced a car-crash, the footage is slightly blurry to give the viewer a sense of diffuseness.


Seeing as the movie depicts people and stories that could exist in real life, this could definitely happen. Most likely it already has. Because racism is still existing (though weakened and nowadays considered a crime) in all countries. So until the day when there is no racist alive, this topic will always be up-to-date, but not necessarily immediate because there hasn't been a large-scale event that promotes or involves racism.

Other questions

Similarities to other movies

There's not much that I know of that can be compared to this. The one film that I can draw comparisons to is Babel (2006). The movies are both very serious and depict a rather dystopian, yet realistic, view of the world. They both use parallel stories and connect them through certain events. Their scenes are not often cheerful; however such do exist to a minimum. But the movies differ (not much though) when it comes to the story. In Babel, it's the communication problems that are highlighted. In Crash, the communication exists but is often racist and bigoted. So in both movies, human beings in events that could happen is the main villain. Though not necessarily evil, the things they do and the lack of communication causes all the trouble in the films.

Target audience.

I think the audience that the makers are aiming anyone who can understand a movie beyond what you see on the screen. Those who understand the message the movie is trying to send. I think the age itself doesn't matter, as long as you are willing to see something that takes your mind somewhere else than your average action-comedy movie.

My thoughts

This movie was very special. It depicted a city where mostly everyone was racist or bigoted. I myself had never seen such a film before. Its multi-facetted story is very good, as it contains the twists and turns it needs to keep it rolling. The film-makers decision to show several stories at once was a great choice. Had the story centred around one person, I would have been bored to death as nearly two hours of footage for one person is quite a lot, and its need to keep things real would have made it impossible to keep the viewer interested for so long. I like how the different stories interweave with each other to make the shifts between them easier and less obvious than had they not. The acting is overall impressive as the respective actors ...

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Källor för arbetet

Crash (2004)

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