I did not understand the meaning of the title, "The Rock", when I first watched the movie. With no information on Alcatraz, I did not pay any attention to the role of the island in the film. To me, it was just some island where the story takes place. After studying about The Rock through different books and films, the island really stood out to me after I watched the movie for the second time. Not only does The Rock provides a foundation for the story to take place, it also constructs the frame of the movie and links the plot together. The similarity and difference between The Rock in the movie and The Rock in real life provide a different angle to take an in-depth look at the movie.
The Rock symbolizes fear. The image of The Rock is equally gruesome in both real history and in the fictional movie. In history, The Rock was a place that confines the most notorious inmates in the States. It is known to the citizens nowadays, that inhuman treatment to the prisoners used to take place on this island. In the movie, The Rock is a place that causes death. It is the base for a group of terrorists who threaten to kill millions of people in the San Francisco Bay Area. In both cases, The Rock is a place that generates fear, torture and possible death.
The Rock serves as a "warning". From the 1930's, this Federal Prison warns citizens not to commit crime, otherwise they would spend years in this horrible place. The Rock is still a kind of warning in the movie. But this time, it is a warning to the government. General Hummel uses the island to warn government that it has to do what he orders, otherwise millions of death would occur.
The Rock is place for protest. Both the Indians and General Hummel attracts attention from the government by occupying the island. In history, The Indians occupied the island to protest for their rights and lands. On the other hand, General Hummel uses the island to protest against injustice in military and government. He uses the island to deliver the message that injustice has to stop.
There are also differences between the role of The Rock in history and in the movie. Historically, The Rock housed dangerous prisoners. But in the movie, The Rock holds innocent civilians as hostages. In addition, the Rock is supposed to be a place to stop or decrease crime. Ironically, in the movie, The Rock is a place that serves as a foundation and base for crime. The exchange between good and evil makes the movie more
complex and interesting.
At the end, The Rock faces the same fate: It gets abandoned by the government. The government closes down the Federal Prison in the 1960's. In the movie, the government orders bombardment to The Rock in order to destroy the rockets and save lives. Probably it is true that "Alcatraz is no good for nobody." In both cases, The Rock fails to serve the purpose and goals that the administrators and occupiers originally want to achieve.