Tue. Mar 26th, 2019

Philadephia (1993) on Life,Discrimination, Homosexuality and AIDS

Philadelphia (1993) on Life,Discrimination, Homosexuality and AIDS and how to win an Oscar

Philadelphia above all was ahead of its time and a very powerful movie with some of the best acting you will ever see.

Philadelphia was released in 1993 at the time when there was a talk about HIV/AIDS in the world as the deadly new disease. Philadelphia was the first mainstream Hollywood production about AIDS, Homosexuality and Homophobia.

Starring Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington and Antonio Banderas, Philadelphia was directed by Jonathan Demme who had won the best director award for Silence of the Lambs just a year before it. The movie is about Andrew Beckett (Tom Hanks) a lawyer who worked for a \’big name\’ law firm and was fired from the firm after they found out that Andrew had AIDS. Andrew approaches another lawyer Miller(Denzel) for a lawsuit against the firm and thus ensues a realistic Poignant court-room drama.


The character of Densel Washington , that is of Joe Miller is basically the character of a normal viewer. As he states in a little monologue to Beckett that every guy or gal who is brought up in a normal way society would think like that. Joe Miller is thus Homophobic, he detests homosexual people, and in his own words, \’they make him sick\’. But by the end of the movie he hugs a homosexual man and accepts a homosexual man as a friend. That is what this movie is about, the transformation of a homophobic person. And discrimination that a homophobic person face in the society that we live in. In a modern society where we are fighting for rights for every one we should respect every one\’s orientation and live our own life.

There is a scene that changes the tone of the movie and which I regard as one of the best scenes ever made, this scene helps in transformation of Miller and also explains the pain and anguish of Andrew\’s life. In fact by the end of the scene Miller is a completely different man. You can Watch  the scene below:

This scene is Andrew explaining his favourite Opera to Miller and he speaks underplaying over Maria Calla\’s la Mamma Morta :

\”This is my favorite aria. This is Maria Callas. This is \”Andrea Chenier\”, Umberto Giordano. This is Madeleine. She\’s saying how during the French Revolution, a mob set fire to her house, and her mother died… saving her. \”Look, the place that cradled me is burning.\” Can you hear the heartache in her voice? Can you feel it, Joe? In come the strings, and it changes everything. The music fills with a hope, and that\’ll change again. Listen… listen…\”I bring sorrow to those who love me.\” Oh, that single cello! \”It was during this sorrow that love came to me.\” A voice filled with harmony. It says, \”Live still, I am life. Heaven is in your eyes. Is everything around you just the blood and mud? I am divine. I am oblivion. I am the god… that comes down from the heavens, and makes of the Earth a heaven. I am love!… I am love.\”

Throughout the scene we are looking down to the Tom Hanks from an angle, as if we are looking from the sky or the heaven, as Andrew walks around the room with his intravenous infusion stand speaking, explaining what Madeleine is saying we witness the pain in his tears and his face. The opera and his dialogue expertly shatters the expectations of viewer and leaves him awestruck. The Camera slowly zooms into Denzel\’s face showing of his transformation clearly as his facial expression changes and a care seeps into his eyes.


As the opera reaches midway, and Andrew translates, \”it was during this sorrow that love came to me\” The lighting changes in the room, with a little tinge of red fire over Hank\’s face and only Denzel\’s expression illuminated by the fire, it keeps the interest and is a perfect example of how to use lighting to get the viewer to focus on a subject, in this case Denzel\’s Expressions. Andrew talks about Hope, sorrow and all life that is Love. He knows he is going to die and leave behind people just Like Madeleine was left behind, but there is still hope just like the strings and cello playing in the opera, the love will stay alive.

As the final high note reaches and Andrew with his tightly closed fist raised above his head utters \”I am love!,\” the acting, the camera work, the lighting all comes together in a moment of cinematic bliss and they dance together in harmony.

If anyone wants to know how to get an Oscar, either be Tom Hanks or look at the scene above and an even better in the scene below, Tom Hanks acts more than the usual actors in just last 30 seconds of this clip in the end, when he breaks down thinking, \”Now what?\”:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DF10re8SqRU]

Setting away from the controversial topics, the movie boast incredible acting talent, with Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington two of my personal favorite actors and probably the best in business right now. Tom Hanks portrays a homosexual AIDS patient and a successful lawyer to its core. You are not watching Tom Hanks be Tom Hanks, you are witnessing Andrew Beckett through his own eyes. That is what a good actor must do, he should embody the character go deep inside psyche and be the role you are getting. A few scenes involving Andrew Beckett are very powerful and for each scene you can provide Tom Hanks countless awards because this is his best acting of the career and it would be hard to beat it.

As Andrew Beckett in a scene inside library is researching for his lawsuit, he has a small talk with Miller and he reads a case finding from The Federal Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Miller reads on loudly \”This is the essence of discrimination: formulating opinions about others not based on their individual merits, but rather on their membership in a group with assumed characteristics. \”

The line in itself explains the definition of Discrimination and the essence of Judgmental criticism, we assume some one on the basis of the group that they belong to, for example every Homosexual would be sassy and drug addict, every colored being would be bad, or every Muslim is a terrorist. Discrimination is in our very being and we openly criticize others but not look at ourselves. Philadelphia for me is showing a mirror to the society and telling them to go and witness the things we do and the world that we live in.

Philadelphia above all was ahead of its time and a very powerful movie with some of the best acting you will ever see.


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