The main setting of "The Breakfast Club" is at Shermer High School, specifically in the library on a Saturday morning. The library is an important aspect in the setting of this movie, because it provides a parallel with the dialogue. The script of this movie is heavily laden with dialogue and the spoken story of each character, similar to the books, writing, and words that fill the library shelves. Another important aspect of the library is the quiet nature of the space, putting the focus entirely on the characters and their issues. With no other noise or distractions, the central focus of the film is clear.
An important character to consider that is often overlooked is the assistant principal, Richard Vernon. Throughout the film he is portrayed as a villain of sorts, out to get the group of students being punished that particular Saturday. Completely unable to relate to his students or any of their situations, he only sees what is on the surface. It is pointed out by the janitor later on in the plot that while Vernon assumes the students are the problem in his lack of understanding the new generation, he never bothered to look closer and realize it was he who had changed. This plays a major role in the overall theme of the movie, which is the inability to see past the surface of a problem or character and judge solely by a look.
A pivotal scene for the five students locked away in detention is the group discussion they have about why they came to Saturday detention. Although it is obvious that it is pivotal because they are opening up, but it is also pivotal in the mood of the film as well. Before this scene, many, if not all, of the interactions between the characters were cold and isolated, making the movie seem tense. As the characters begin to open up, the feel of the movie transitions to an easier, lighthearted feel that pulls the audience in to the escapades that begin to occur. Not only has it changed the relationship between the characters, but it changes the mood of the rest of the movie.
The lunches that each character eats are representative of each of their respective parents. Claire eats a fancier meal than the rest, Andy's food is loaded with carbohydrates and calories, Brian's lunch consists of a crust-less peanut butter and jelly sandwich, Allison's bologna (which she discards to replace with candy), and Bender, who has no lunch. Each meal represents the parenting style of each teenager, such as Allison's discarding of part of her sandwich signifies the way they ignore her, giving her the freedom to do whatever she wants.
The writing in this movie is realistic and plausible, seeing as it is an everyday occurrence for us to judge others solely by what is on the outside. The slow reveal of the inner struggles and personal demons of each of the characters is realistic, coming slowly and in pieces, each filled with emotion. It is obvious that many of the characters do not wish to open up, which is very typical of someone dealing with their own issues. The inserted lines of dry and sarcastic humor lighten the mood when it is necessary, just as some situations require and easily remind us that they still are, in fact, teenagers. The writing is very symbolic of the things that can happen to every day high school students, although perhaps not as extreme, it serves as a guide for those moments that we all have had some sort of experience with.
An aspect of grouping in this movie is shown by the colors of the characters. Red for Bender, blue for Andy, pink for Claire, green for Brian, and black for Allison. These colors play into the stereotypes that they are portraying, further signifying the outer appearance contradiction that the characters struggle with. A smaller grouping is the group of teenagers, and the adults. The stark contrast between the two age groups, both physically separated and emotionally, magnifies the generation gap and the lack of ability to understand one another.
The aspect of judgment plays a large role, especially in the beginning where each character has made specific judgments against their peers. Applying that to the whole, judgment becomes the main theme that motivates them as characters, as well as how easily judgments can be changed. In watching this, I see media messages that have changed over the years. The message that this film delivers is one that can be forgotten easily, but this movie is a nostalgic reminder to never judge a book by its cover.
John Hughes was the king of successful movies in the 1980's, with this movie being at the forefront of his laundry list of hit films. Seeing as how many movies were based off this movie and others like it, "The Breakfast Club" is a teen drama that has become the stereotypical teen drama. The storytelling techniques, such as the ability to show the progression of these characters in a single day, and revealing character complexity is something seen even recently, in shows like "Community."
The storytelling technique used by this movie was a unique choice, one that is not often seen. It is easy to forget that sometimes and entire story can happen in just a matter of hours in your life, not over a long span of time. This technique is adding to my ability to comprehend the realistic nature of cinematic storytelling by proving that you do not need to show weeks or month of passing time to have a story with impact.
"The Breakfast Club" uses its title to emphasize the reason why it is so important not to judge something strictly by what you see.
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