Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Rock: Overdramatized, but Realistic Representation of Alcatraz?

Many parts of the movie, The Rock (1996), are overdramatized, unrealistic, and fictionalized in order to create a greater appeal to an audience. However, even so, many pieces of this movie portray Alcatraz as the place of incarceration and torture that it is still remembered as today. In the second half of the movie, an FBI team, including convict Mason and biochemist Goodspeed, infiltrate Alcatraz in an attempt to prevent the Marines from launching the VX gas rockets into San Francisco. This leads to misunderstanding and unnecessary shooting, which culminates in the death of everyone on the island, except for Goodspeed, Mason, and the hostages. Although conveyed in an exaggerated manner, several scenes from The Rock draw parallels to the actual conditions of this infamous island.

For example, in the scene when the FBI team gains access into Alcatraz and the Marines and FBI members all have their guns aimed at one another, Commander Anderson says, “You are under oath as United States Marines. Have you forgotten that?” This scene parallels the real-life circumstances at Alcatraz by illustrating how people are driven to insanity, which results in a multitude of unnecessary deaths. Ironically, General Hummel says, “No one has to die here.” However, the FBI team and the Marines begin shooting at one another until the entire FBI team is dead, except for Goodspeed and Mason. This is analogous to how the horrific, injustice conditions of Alcatraz drove inmates to take extreme measures to escape from Alcatraz, which often ended in death or further torture.

In addition, the harsh conditions of Alcatraz drove prisoners to take significant risks because they had nothing to lose, just as at this point, the Marines have nothing to lose no matter what occurs on the island. Near the end of the movie, when the Marines decide that it is time to launch the rockets into San Francisco, Hummel sends the first one off-track so that no one is harmed. However, this causes the other remaining Marines to turn against him, because they argue that they have already come this far so they need to carry out their original plan.

Furthermore, the idea of unpreparedness, which is illustrated in our other texts and movies, seems to be prevalent in the plot of The Rock. Although initially the plan appears sound and carefully thought-out, it ultimately results in a chaotic mess. The idea propelling the takeover of Alcatraz was reasonable, but the actions taken to convey this message were not the best, as also seen in Like a Hurricane.


1 comment:

  1. In addition to your comment of Alcatraz driving prisoners to insanity, maybe the island also induces inanity in those not bound to it as prisoners. It seemed pretty clear early in the movie that the marines were there to obtain recognition of fallen soldiers that have not already been recognized. It also seemed clear that they were only supposed to be bluffing rather than hurting innocent people. However, by the end of the movie, after being called on their bluff, several marines still wanted to kill innocent lives. It seemed, at least to me, that these men were now insane. Not only were they taking the lives of innocent individuals but they were also giving up their own lives. However, this was all taking place on Alcatraz. So is the islands significance that its visitors become insane? It seems like a possibility.

    To reinforce this possibility, the scene where the FBI agents were killed seems to play a prominent role. All penal systems have rules and regulations that they must follow, however, Alcatraz did not follow these rules. The marines were being governed by General Hummel. He made it clear that he did not want people to die and kept calling to his men to stop shooting. However, they never ceased at his commands. It seems like these men were willing to lose it all.