In his 1991 film Boyz N the Hood, director John Singleton crafts a world which defies the limitations of cinema to portray events realistically, depicting South Central Los Angeles in the 1980s and early ‘90’s. The portrait of the neighborhood where protagonist Trey grows up is in many ways bleak and unflinching. With a casualty that suggests much about the circumstances that face impoverished black Americans in dangerous urban centers, the director marks the world of young Trey with all the trappings of the ghetto.
The familiarity that neighborhood children feel toward violence, weapons and death is not as much stated as illustrated in the film, with altercations, gunfire and fatalities providing the backdrop to life. One is immediately struck by the grittiness of the depiction, with longview shots of streets and alleyways showing the constant state of peril and paranoia which came to ensconce Trey and his friends.
The comfort that the director shows in dealing with material that has the potential to make viewers squeamish appears as a natural element of the story-telling, with the ugly realities of the film’s world taking on a role of exposition for the decisions of the young men of the neighborhood. “Singleton, having grown up in the kind of situations depicted in his film, created a world close to his heart and well within his knowledge.
Thus the young writer/director followed the most-often-preached rule of storytelling – write what you know. ” (Santo, 1) This qualified him uniquely to place his stamp as director on this film. Though the approach of bare-knuckled frankness in the film makes it shocking to watch for those unversed in its content, Singleton is successful at avoiding cliche or sensationalism by way of violence.
The narrative is instead moved forward by the desires and experiences of the characters to resist the violence, substance abuse and unemployment that are epidemic around them. The film’s effective examination of these themes renders it a suitable primary text for a research examination on the treatment of such subjects in cinema. Works Cited Santo, Jason. (Oct. 31, 2003). Fair Enough Friday: You’re a Hack! MicrocinemaScene. Ret. 4/17/08 <http://www. microcinemascene. com/artman/publish/031031_fef_hack. php>.
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