Chinatown presents the information about the American dream by Polanski, by clearly showing the futile nature of citizens when they are faced with immeasurable obstacles presented by their environment and leaders alike. Polanski makes use of imagery, dialogue and motifs to bring out Chinatown, which is a place with deep-rooted corruption and deception where leaders who are powerful are able to prevail without problems. In contrast, to such provisions Gittes who is a character is depicted as struggling for the region, a struggle that brings a reality that is bleak to the vision of Polanski.
Current and not-so-current events
Towne clearly based his plot on the Own River Valley in the year 1904 and onwards where William, who was the head of Los Angeles Water Department had a strong believe that the problems that were in the region could be solved easily by the water that was coming from Owen River. The farmers themselves had different ideas of how to use the water and were only waiting for the Reclamation Service to complete their project before they could anticipate what they wanted to do with the water in the river.
Having the information that the farmers could stop the implementation of the project, Eaton and Mulhohalland bribed the agents from the Reclamation Service, and showed them different other plans that were necessary, and started to buy the land and water rights in the Owens Valley region for their personal gain. The idea of corruption and mistrust of leaders is clearly shown in the film, and this is matters that are of currently in operation in many regions around the globe and in the US in particular. The leadership style of dividing and rule is inherent in many leaders as they kill their masters as they continue with the various improvements and developments that they desire for themselves.
There are various organizational laws that are secretive in Chinatown, where the law has no meaning to the people, and the intentions that are perceived as good are not upheld as they should be, but instead surprised. This is a clear symbol of every community in the globe where various laws are not fully upheld for the purposes of safeguarding the interests of the people. The idea of corruption is keenly rooted in the society, and has become a way of life of many residents in the city, a leader like Escobar, who is a lieutenant has not fully embraced the desires of the people, and this has made him not to fight for the corruption that is imminent. There is no noble leadership, and people like Elberton who is a leader is not only encouraging corruption but doing various things that can fulfill their desires and enlarge their pockets due to their selfishness (Garrett 120). Leaders like Cross are seen as being above the law and this is incidences that are common in many societies around the globe.
The ideas of symbolism are furthered by the nature of injury Jake has while in the reservoir, and this limits his heroism nature. The movie hero squashes wars around the region, but Jake is found holding into his injury for the better part of the film. The bandage that is around Jack due to the injury depicts him as a character of fallibility and frailty. Jake is seen deflecting his injuries with sarcasm; bring out the idea of how he makes use of his occasional crassness to put aside his decency nature. The part where Evelyn sleeps with Jake starts with Evelyn taking care of his injury, and this clearly suggests a clear sign of weakness, even though it is made to look an appealing view of Jake.
There is symbolism in the saltwater pond, as it depicts the dual nature of the existence of human beings. The pool of saltwater that was found in the backyard of Mulwray is a source of life of the people and other creatures together with plants. The pool is also a source of death to most of the nearby inhabitants when they cannot handle the salt nature of the water. There was quick death that was brought about by the pool when Mulwray was drowned by Cross, which led to his lungs being filled with the salt water. The duality nature in the pool clearly serves as a symbol of corruption, which kills and destroys the people in the city and at the same time, provides life to them. Similar to the grass that is affected by the salt water any person who is not able to adapt to the heightened corruption from the region is destroyed eventually without any reoccurrence.
Chinatown indicates that the ideas of a trustworthy and honest leader are not true. The people who are leaders in Chinatown are not true to themselves, as they try their level best to harm the people they are supposed to protect. Cross, who has not power, has made use of his resources to run most of the city and other regions that are near the town. Cross makes use of the people he is ruining to gain his self-interests and enrich himself (Travers 147).
The attorney himself is seen as informing the people to ignore any crimes that are committed by the people, who are leaders, and this makes the police leave the leaders to act on their own interests, thereby harming the citizens who are supposed to receive protection from the highest office in the land. Russ, who is a family man, is seen as a person who is respected, but inwardly he is busy manipulating the citizens to enrich him, and later commits murder by killing his boss without any cause. The Lieutenant, who worked with Jake, was respected by him, but he also let the levels of injustice and corruption escalates without taking those who are involved into the courts for action to be taken against them (Oliver 240).
All the people who are in power in Chinatown fully acknowledge the presence of vices, but they continue to fuel them without any desire to stop such acts to ensure a peaceful coexistence among the people. The leaders fuel such habits with the aim of enriching themselves and destroying the unity and love that is often existent in the society. This has made them become incapacitated in their duties, and such acts often reduce the levels of development and growth among the people in a particular region.
There is corruption that is embedded in the American dream, which often provides people with the tools and desire to move to new regions and make changes so that they can enjoy their livelihoods. The wilderness has not been transformed into useful lands as expected as the irrigation systems and water that are vital for blossoming are not being used as they should (Nalley 189).
Hollis who was an expert, and who had the capability of turning the region into a fertile land, used the water as an excuse to commit murder. He murdered Hollis, who was seen as interfering with Cross’s plans of making various changes to the reservoir. Russ also betrayed the people from the region and the one man he admired so that he could take control of the water. The allure with the American dream is the facet of giving people the opportunity to advance themselves with the few resources that are in their reach. The people are supposed to take control of their destiny and make use of the resources that are available without problems.
This is not the case in Chinatown and in the American dream as leaders squash such dreams to build a future for themselves and their families, instead of the people they are supposed to lead and guide. Cross is corrupt and pushes the American dream further by allowing his associates to benefit and become rich at the expense of the people who are supposed to receive help to improve their livelihoods. The present corruption delineates the people from their dreams and plans, and this makes most of them to anticipate movement and lack of trust to the government (Dick 49).
The people who are helpless in the city are not able to fend and provide for themselves easily as they are confronted with vices that stem from corruption and self-interest from the leaders. Chinatown depicts a society where the people have no voice for themselves because of the betrayal from their leaders. They are not able to control their destiny and future because of the impending vices. Unlike what the characters attest, the idea of corruption is embedded everywhere in the globe, but most of these leaders often end up harming themselves more compared to those subjects they are supposed to take care of in the society. Jake had lost a woman to such evil forces in Chinatown in a similar manner; he lost Evelyn, who had earlier escaped from her father, but was unable to run to escape the serious consequences of evil which is death. Hollis himself who tried to run away by cutting the ties that he had with Cross finally succumbs as a result of his former associates in the business world.
Dick, Jeff T. “Chinatown/To Catch a Thief.” Library Journal 137.12 (2012): 49-50.
Garrett, Charles Hiroshi. “Chinatown, whose Chinatown? Defining Americaʼs borders with musical Orientalism.” Journal of the American Musicological Society 57.1 (2004): 119-173.
Nalley, Richard. “Chinatown.” Forbes Life 180 (2007): 189.
Oliver, Bill. “The Long Goodbye and Chinatown: Debunking the Private Eye Tradition.” Literature Film Quarterly 3.3 (1975): 240.Travers, P, and M Stieger. “Chinatown revisited.” Rolling Stone 587 (1990): 47.
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