Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Velveteen Rabbit

By: Mike Sanchez

The Velveteen Rabbit is a children's book that tells a story of a stuffed rabbit and his quest to become real through the love of his owner. The Rabbit desires to be made real by being the object-obsession of his owner. The rabbit is played with every day and is carried everywhere the owner goes. One day, the owner comes down with scarlet fever. He is sent to the seaside to become better and told to leave all his possessions behind. The boy yearns to take the Rabbit with him, but his doctor forbids him to take the germ infested plush toy and says it must be burned with all the nursery toys in order to disinfect the nursery. Luckily, the rabbit is saved by the Nursery Magic Fairy, and is deemed 'real' enough to become a wild rabbit and hop and jump into the forrest. The following Spring, once the boy has been revived from his illness, he sees the Velveteen Rabbit, but never realizes that it is his old toy and obsession. The Rabbit knows, however, and continues to hop into the forest to live his new life.

Up in the Air, Jason Reitman's award-winning motion picture, shares a similar story-line as that of the Velveteen Rabbit. In Reitman's laugh-infused stealth tragedy, George Clooney plays a suave, charming man who's job is to fire employees from other companies during the recession. In Reitman's America, one man's economic crisis is another's, or Clooney's, Golden opportunity. To Ryan Bingham, Clooney's character, "Flying means soaring." This can be interpreted as soaring over the drama and tragedy infused world; a world that is cluttered with relationships and feelings that just drag a man down and takes over the remnants of a man's life. Mr. Bingham is better off alone, in his airworld.
Or so it seems. Up in the Air turns Hollywood when tragedy hits Bingham. In the original novel, Bingham is stricken with a disease than enables him to gain further perspective on life, much like the perspective gained by the Velveteen Rabbit when he was able to enter the wild. Hollywood clasically transforms this story-line into a Rom-Com by introducing love, instead of disease, to create drama. Alex, Vera Farminga's character, is the female version of Bingham. She affects his life by making him want to turn real by loving, much like the Velveteen Rabbit--Clooney's character wants to be in love. This is seen by his chase back to Alex's hometown, only to be turned away and disappointed. He is left to be burned in the nursery, metaphorically speaking, because he has failed at achieving the path to love. Once Mr. Bingham reaches his air milage goal, however, he is set back on his path and able to happily run into the woods. Both stories endure a genuinely happy beginning, tragic midpoint where there is an 'all or nothing' theme, and a stagnant ending. Up in the Air goes even further than The Valenteen Rabbit by ending in a bleak fashion. A review from the New York Times calls it a "laugh-infused stealth tragedy," but never a comedy.
Most critics enjoy the film due to the charismatic performances of the three main actors, all of which hold equally important roles--none are Clooney's subordinates. The screen shots and imagery of the film is also very vivid and creates a motion-picture that is pleasant to watch. Most critics agree that this is a film for all of America to enjoy--gorgeous actors and actresses, intricate dialouge, and a simple story-line that masks a more complex, bleak ending.

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