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May 1994


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Daniel Pisano <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 31 May 1994 16:45:36 +0200
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A few weeks ago, I stumbled across something that raised my interest
in 'second level' storytelling - the hidden morale or message behind
a story that seems trivial at first sight.
Take Sneakers for instance. I think that this film is highly underrated
for the following reasons.
All in all, it seems like a nice, clean cut comedy with some technology
thrown in to attract some computer 'nerds' (sorry. I am one, too, so...)
to get any audience at all.
But upon observing, not merely watching, the plot, one can discover
a thick, bright-red thread that has "It is not what it seems" written
all over it.
Obviously, the theme of perception of reality and information control
are very predominant, though on a second level: you have to look for it
to see it. But when you see it, you will recognize that every single scene
emanates is soaked with this theme, down to the very last detail.
I could state lot of examples here to prove it, but it'd get too long.
What we also have is:
- Politics (it was an election year and the film
  is pro-democratic [Bush-bashing in a scene])
  Also: Soviet breakdown and shifting dangers (mafia).
- Hitchcock hommages (cocktail-party geese, guard watching TV?)
- Integration of 'minorities' as crucial factors
Now, Wargames is also a favoured film of mine in which, upon watching
it again, I discovered this same element of playing all variations
on a theme while telling a story.
The second level theme in this case is the playing of games (of course).
It also shows interesting parallels between the characters.
Professionals and amateurs and young versus 'old' come to mind.
Technology is also involved. So is it a coincidence?
No, it is not.
The scriptwriters for both films are Lawrence Lasker and Walter F. Parkes,
according to the credits.
In both films the handling of technology, with dangers and profits, is being
used as a hookup to present an interesting argument (distribution of power,
control of information, perception of reality, conscious and responsible
behaviour towards technology, the need for secrets in society, the importance
of playing as a creative source (as opposed to earnest behaviour which, at
least in the two movies, is presented as being contraproductive)
Now, along with the hope that this will start off a discussion,
I would like to ask a few questions.
Is there more that I have not seen yet?
Or am I seeing too much?
What other movies were written by the two?
What is the second level theme contained in them?
How can I contact the two writers?
Daniel Pisano (drpi)