Monday, May 01, 2006

The Outsiders

Stay Gold!

Leading Actors: Patrick Swayze (Darry Curtis), C. Thomas Howell (Pony Boy Curtis), Ralph Macchio (Johnny), Matt Dillon (Dally), Tom Cruise (Steve Randle), Emilo Esteves (Two-Bit), Rob Lowe (Sodapop Curtis), Diane Lane (Cherry)

I decided to watch the movie I had fallen in love with as a child and after watching it again, I can see why it was I was so captured by it.

This movie is an impressive adaptation of the book by S.E. Hinton. The setting takes place in the Midwest amidst a violent territory war between two economic classes: the Greasers (the poor working class) and the Socs (the Socials-the upper class of society).

The main storyline is centered on two teenage friends called Pony Boy Curtis and Johnny (Greasers), who are caught in the mix of the social rivalry. The main character, Pony Boy Curtis, is an orphan adolescent being raised by his older brother, Darry. He dreams of a life that is beautiful and peaceful. He escapes to this dream by reading poetry-not a typical activity of a greaser. I believe that it is Pony Boy’s intelligence, innocence and desire for something better that makes him an outsider. He is an outsider to both groups. He’s seen as an outsider by the Socs because of his economic status. However, he is also seen as an outsider in his own gang, the Greasers, because of the aforementioned characteristics. I think that they believe he is destined for something better than what they have to live with everyday.

Pony’s best friend, Johnny, is a traumatized, abused and neglected waif who may as well be considered an orphan by the way his parents treat him. Like Pony Boy, he too is an outsider from both groups. He is an outsider to the Socs because of his economic status and he is an outsider to the Greasers because he is innocent and scared. I don’t think the Greasers see him as an equal, I believe they see him as someone who needs to be taken care of-protected.

I think it’s ironic that the boy who was known to be weak and in need of protection, is the one who saves Pony Boy’s life. Johnny was able to confront his fear of Socs (having once been brutally beaten by one) by shooting a Soc who was attacking Pony Boy. When Pony Boy regained consciousness he realized what had happened. They both sought the help of a friend, Dally, to help them run. It was on the run that Pony Boy and Johnny became heroes. However, heroism wasn’t without its consequences. Upon Dally’s visit to Pony Boy and Johnny, all three boys jumped in to save a group of children from a fire in the abandoned church where they had been hiding out. While attempting to save the last child in the building the ceiling in the church collapsed, severely burning Johnny and Dally. As a result, the boys were returned to their hometown injured and to face the music. However, Johnny did not survive his wounds.

No one could believe that Greasers could be so heroic. It was not a trait that people thought that they possessed. Even the head Soc was baffled. He wasn’t certain that he would have done the same thing as those boys, and he respected them for that. However, that respect did not prevent the planned gang brawl in the end.

Dally also did not make it, but his death was not by fire but out of grief. He had taken on the role of Johnny’s protector. He saw himself in Johnny and didn’t want him to go through the same things as he. The overprotection and care for Johnny is what killed him in the end. Dally couldn’t handle losing Johnny. I think that he saw his only hope for redemption from the mistakes he had made in his life as occurring through Johnny. Once Johnny was dead, he felt as if all hope was lost for him and he cracked. He was ultimately shot by the police.

The last piece of advice Johnny left Pony Boy, while kind of corny in the way that it was done in the movie, was very touching. He had recognized that Pony Boy was special, that he was an outsider. He wrote a letter to Pony Boy before he died. He told him that he should always remain innocent, “Stay gold.”

No comments: