Slig Blade Essay

Essay about girl interrupted review

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One popular cultural myth about the mentally ill is the archetype of the "Sexy Crazy Girl", which we've seen in movies, comic books, and music. Losing your grip with reality is not a glamorous subject, but that's not what you get from Girl, Interrupted. It is apparent that all the girls in the movie had some type of dysfunctional personality, and bad things happen to some of them, but it just did not seem realistic. First off, most of the patients prtrayed were young, which made the care facility look like a youth home rather than a mental institution. but only the main (well known) stars, (Jolie and Ryder) were focal piont. I'll also note that about half the young girls in the movie, Ryder and Jolie included, simply don't look…show more content…

The movie seems to pay heavy homage to One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest in using a character like Lisa, as she seems at first glance like the young female version of Randall McMurphy. Farther in, however, we discover that Girl, Interrupted is more aptly described as being completely the opposite... Lisa really is probably more messed up than anyone else in the ward. Jolie has gotten plenty of acclaim for her performance here, but I was never really taken in. It seems she's playing nearly the same sexy-vixen she's played in a few other films already; just this time, she's in a t-shirt, and occasionally gets tied to a bed. It'd be interesting to see Jolie really stretch beyond her type; maybe in a Jane Austen movie or playing a nun.

Overall, Girl, Interrupted feels like a movie that could've been rawer, more intense, and more confrontational... ie, a lot less Hollywood. I found myself wondering what this adaptation of Kaysen's book would've been like if it had been done on a shoestring budget with unknown young actresses and a fledgling director. Some Folks Call it a Sling Blade, the short film by Billy Bob Thornton that led to the film Sling Blade came to mind. I'm also noticing that that's the 2nd time I referenced another film that is primarly about men, not women. Maybe we need an excellent film about mentally ill young women, and

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Sling Blade; Miramax Films, 1996; Directed by Billy Bob Thorton; Starring Billy Bob Thorton, Dwight Yoakam, J.T. Walsh, and Lucas Black; Rated R; Watch the trailer.



Sling Blade is a 1996 sleeper hit that was written, directed by and stars Billy Bob Thorton. The film is based on a 1993 short film, Some Folks Call it a Sling Blade, that Thorton also wrote. The main character, Karl Childers, is a middle-aged man with an intellectual disability who has spent the past 25 years in what he calls a “nervous hospital” for killing his mother and her teenaged lover with a sling blade. Once released, Karl returns to his hometown in Arkansas and meets 12-year-old Frank, and the two become friends. Frank’s mother Linda invites Karl to live in their shed, and Karl settles into job as a mechanic. The film explores the moral ambiguity of terms such as right and wrong, good and evil. If Flannery O’Connor and William Faulkner co-wrote a screenplay, it would be very much like Sling Blade, which won Thorton the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay.


Themes, Symbols, & Motifs:

  • Morality. While Karl Childers’ thoughts and mannerisms might in their simplicity seem child-like, the word is even in his name, Karl’s sense of morality could be said to “grow up” over the course of the film.
  • Hero. In an age where many film and television stars are anti-heroes, Karl is more of an unlikely hero.
  • Parallels and cycles. Karl is 12 years old, the same age as Frank, when he kills his mother and her lover. To Frank, whose father committed suicide, Karl is a father figure; to Karl, whose brother died as a baby, Frank is a little brother. Karl’s dilemma upon learning of Doyle’s abuse overlaps with the situation he experienced at age 12.
  • Religion. Karl carries a Bible with him and even recalls Bible lessons from his mother. However, he tells his father, who as an old man is surrounded by Christian artifacts, “Them stories you and Mama told me ain’t in [the Bible].”


Discussion Questions:

  1. Is there a difference between killing and murder? How does this apply to the film?
  2. How does Karl reconcile Vaughn’s homosexuality with what Karl has read in the Bible?
  3. How does the death of Karl’s baby brother impact him?
  4. Should Linda have taken on more responsibility for protecting Frank from Doyle? Was she trapped? Passive?
  5. Dissect Karl’s baptism. Why does he get baptized? Are there biblical allusions to Jesus? Is it significant that on the day of the final murder it rains?
  6. Karl’s reaction to the stream-of-consciousness stories from the child molester in the hospital at the beginning compared to the end of the film is different. What has changed?
  7. Is the film’s ending predictable? Inevitable? How does this affect your opinion of the film?
  8. Does the film grant redemption for Karl? If so, in what way(s)?


Click here for a downloadable Word document of this Discussion Guide.


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