The task of this research paper is to analyze how the literary techniques were used in some particular film.
This task is going to show how well we have learned these techniques and whether we can apply them to practice. Before starting analyzing a certain film, we must realize the essence and the kinds of literary techniques. In our opinion, one of the most appropriate definitions of the indicated term is the following.
“Literary techniques collectively comprise the art form’s components – the means authors use to create meaning through language, and that readers use to understand and appreciate their works. They also provide a conceptual framework for comparing individual literary works to others, within and across genres.” (“Literary Technique,” n.d.).
Simply speaking literary techniques are the instruments used by an author for sending his main message to the audience. They are applied not only in the literature but even in films. Among the most widespread literary techniques may be pointed out: back story, introduction, cliffhanger, cut-up technique, flashback, flash-forward, etc.
We have chosen the film The Verdict for analysis. To begin with, we would like to provide some background information about the film. It is a relatively old film, which was presented in 1982. It can be called a courtroom drama. The main character is an alcoholic lawyer. He tries to deal with some medical cases to get benefits for himself. However, he discovers that he is doing the right thing during the process. This case is related to medical malpractice. It is one form of physician-assisted suicide to help people that do not have a lot of chances to survive but suffer from pain and other negative health conditions. The case is related to a woman that suffers from a vegetative state. The film is based on real actions related to the Karen Ann Quinlan case. The film was very successful. For example, it was nominated for five academy awards.
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Now it is time to provide some information about the plot of the film. It is important to understand the techniques that were used in it. The main character, Frank Galvin, was a promising graduate of a prestigious law school. Also, he works for one of the leading companies in Boston. However, he experiences difficult times now. He is an alcoholic and has lost four cases for the last three years. His past partner provides him with a case, where he has to defend a young mother, who was treated with the wrong anesthetic and is now in a coma. He meets with the representatives of the hospital that have made a mistake. They proposed money, quite a significant sum to satisfy Frank and relatives of this woman. Nevertheless, Frank declines the proposal since he believes that this case is the last chance to do something good and useful as a lawyer.
This decision was own decision of Frank. Relatives of the victim find out that he had turned down a great financial settlement. They are not happy with such a decision. Additionally, he faces other significant problems with witnesses, opponents, and even his experts. As a back story (which is, in fact, one of the mentioned literary techniques) we see romantic relations of Frank and Laura, a woman whom he had met in a bar. Probably, she was the one that helped him to reach a breakthrough in the case. In the end, it turns out that she was not the one needed for him.
Such a breakthrough happens, when Frank discovers that one of his witnesses was forced to change her notes. Frank has managed to prove it. It was a turning point: the case was won, and the settlement has exceeded all expectations. Finally, Frank has done something good and useful and now he sees the light at the end of a tunnel.
It would be great to say a few words about moral issues that are considered in the film. We would point out three moral problems: the problem of physician-assisted suicide or, at least, a good settlement for patients that were treated in a wrong way by a hospital; the problem of personal fall and further resurrection; and the problem of deception and benefit seeking in relations between people.
The problem of euthanasia is a very complicated and controversial nowadays. Still, the authors of the film have managed to show it in such a way that provokes positive emotions in both opponents and proponents of this idea. It is not even the main storyline of the film. It is just a background story that creates an appropriate emotional background. It is one of the literary techniques that have been used in the film. The role of such a back story is to lead spectators to some particular emotional mood, where they will be able to understand the film.
We believe that the main storyline of the film is a story of the personal resurrection of Frank. He was almost marginal in life, but this life has given him a chance to change something. Indeed, this case was evidence that he can do something good, to make happy other people. Probably, it has provided him with a sense of life.
At last, relations between people are also a great topic of the film. Once again people are ready for anything to get financial benefits. This is one of the integral attributes of modern life, and the author tries to show it via this particular case – in the end, good guys overcome the bad ones.
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Finally, we have to talk about the direct literary techniques that have been used in the film. We have already mentioned about background story as one of those. We believe that there are two background stories in the film: medical case and story with Laura. Their main role is to create the appropriate emotional background and lead spectators to understand the message that the film is trying to send. Also, these back stories work as an orienteer that directs the main character to his final state and decisions.
The other literary technique in the film is the parallel. We believe that some parallel between the medical case and the personal story of Frank can be created. He considers the positive outcome in this case his salvation. Win in this case is his win and provides hope that life still can be good. This opinion can be proved by the following words.
“In “The Verdict” we are asked to look at the moral dilemmas that accompany Galvin’s desperate attempt for resurrection. Does he confuse his job – getting a settlement for the comatose woman – with his salvation? And if so, is this right, or is it Galvin’s job to take the money (on behalf of his client) and not take a legal gamble that might prove disastrous? So this is a long way from your average courtroom thriller, but this only serves to make the courtroom the absolute focus of our attention – Galvin cannot save himself if he cannot win the case! There is much at stake here” (“The Verdict,” n.d.).
On the whole, we believe that there was one more literary technique in the film. Almost the whole action of the film took place in a courtroom. Such instrument has been borrowed from past periods in literature. As a result, the storyline of the film is associated with this courtroom. We believe that is quite a good association since it is a place where the fight for justice occurs. Win in this case is winning for Frank; it is a win for any person that tries to change their life. We can even say that it was the main message of the film. It is about the personal resurrection of Frank or any other person, showed via court process and settlement of this medical case. Thus, even allegory was used in the film as a literary technique.
To conclude, we would like to say the following. The film we have analyzed is one of the best courtroom dramas of the last decades. It is not surprising that it has a lot of supporters among simple people and even professional experts. It is characterized by not only terrific plays of actors but also with the whole range of literary techniques that have been used to send the main message of the film. Among these techniques, the following ones have been pointed out: back story, allegory, parallel, one place for the whole action, etc. They have helped to send and understand the main message. The latter, we believe, is that there is always a chance for the resurrection of any person; everything is up to us. Thus, the film is a story of the personal resurrection of Frank, showed via medical case court process. It is probably the main literary technique.