Sunday, July 11, 2010

"The Newsies," a movie review

The weather forecast predicted a lot of rain this weekend. So I took this opportunity to spend some quality time staying in and watching movies.

One of the movies I was eager to watch is an all-time classic and personal favorite: The Newsies:

July, 1899: When Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst raise the distribution price one-tenth of a cent per paper, ten cents per hundred, the newsboys, poor enough already, are outraged. Inspired by the strike put on by the trolley workers, Jack "Cowboy" Kelly (Christian Bale) organizes a newsboys' strike. With David Jacobs (David Moscow) as the brains of the new union, and Jack as the voice, the weak and oppressed found the strength to band together and challenge the powerful. Written by Kaitlin Dwyer Rankins

I remember watching this movie when I was eight years old and loving it. Although I didn't understand the history and plot background, I loved the music. Who knew Christain Bale and Bill Pullman were so musically talented?

But as I watch it now, I realize how much of the background and plot can be applied to today

For example, one of the points Christian Bale's character (Jack Kelly) brings up is: what sells a paper. Bale makes the witty remark that charged words like "nude" or "affair" always catch the public's attention.

At eight years old, I probably giggled at this part. But now 22-year-old Sylvia knows how true that statement still is. For instance, what else was happening in the world when tabloids uncovered Tiger Woods' affair? or Jesse James' affair?

I'm not judging public interest -- I'm guilty of it as well -- I'm just questioning, why is it that way? Not really sure there is an answer for that.
Newsies: We need a good assassination, we need an earthquake or a war...
Snipeshooter: How 'bout a crooked politician?
Newsies: Hey, stupid, that ain't news no more!
One of the other points the movie raises is how much power the press has. For example, Theodore Roosevelt -- who is the Governor of New York at the time -- had no idea what was going on with the newsies or the raise in newspaper prices because Pulitzer put a ban on reporters covering the subject.

As soon as Roosevelt learns of what is going on, he immediately acts in favor of the newsies. In addition, Roosevelt also finds out about "The Refuge," which is a jail/rehabilitation building the police make sure orphans are sent to so the city continues to send money -- which the police put directly into their pockets.

Likewise, when Roosevelt finds out about this, he sets all the orphans free and locks up the crooked cops. Again, Roosevelt had the newsies and reporter Bryan Denton to thank for that. 

I see this as one of the most crucial lessons in the movie. Thanks to brave, investigative journalists, we are educated and made aware of terrible event that are still happening in our world. Events like the civil war in Africa or sex trafficking in Europe.

If it weren't for the brave reporters who put their life on the line to discover the truth, the public wouldn't know and wouldn't be able to help.

The Newsies is an incredible movie with talented actors, dancers and singers -- but what makes it a classic is the fact that it reminds the audience of how powerful the printed word is.

Enjoy this clip, "The World Will Know":


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