Simplicity at its greatest hour.
Synopsis: An old man who is an alcoholic, takes a trip from Montana to Nebraska with his son to claim a million-dollar sweepstakes prize.
Probably one of the most realistic films I have ever seen- and will probably ever. The most outstanding feature of the film was, of course, that it was shot in black and white. However, at first, it took time getting used to since everything in the movie was modern, plus it was HD quality and it did not match the grey-scale. Why black and white in the first place? Why take a risk like that? Well, here it is: the movie is about the harsh reality of life- and the simplest joys take can make our life, as well. What better way to emphasise the theme than to put it in black and white? The most prominent colours of all. Life can be viewed as complicated like the spectrum making white light; it’s long, tiresome and overwhelming…or, it can be as effortless as black and white.
Woody Grant goes through an elaborate journey for one modest reason: to leave something for his sons when he dies. If you keep looking ahead (very ahead if you are young) then, isn’t this the basis we all strive in our intricate lives? To leave the younger with a happy life? Only for them to do same, too?
Talking about grey-scale not matching time period, there are many things that seem out of balance. Major one being the distinct age gaps between characters. There were people in their 30’s and then there were people in their 70’s/80’s. And that was it. There is a saying that your 30’s will be the most thriving years of your life. So there is a clear-cut contrast between the thriving years and those when your…not so young any more. Just like there is between black and white.
The point of this? To be honest, I’m not very sure myself. Perhaps to outline that at every age, even those which you think you can’t change who you are or where you are at, especially after 30, you can be who you always wanted to be, no matter the age. There is a tendency for us to give more attention to little kids and to be forced to give attention to teenagers because without it, let’s admit it, they’d go off the rails (although I am not disapproving of this. It is perfectly normal). By depriving us of the ages we tend to notice, we start glimpsing at the real, hard, yet inspiring, years of a person’s life.
There is a theme of acceptance throughout the picture. When Ross Grant tells his brother that he “paid his dues”, I immediately recognised the foreshadowing of searching for validity. Woody, ultimately wants to be accepted by his sons; not as the booze-addict but as the father that left them with something to remember by him- in this case, millions of dollars. We see as time continues, the son, played fantastically by Will Forte, becomes increasingly receptive to his father’s plea to drink with him and eventually does. The old girlfriend of Woody accepts that she will never have him. And, the most obvious, Woody has to accept that he hadn’t really won a million dollars.
We all want to be embraced by our society, family and friends; to prove to ourselves that we are normal and haven’t disappointed anyone. But what Nebraska invited us to do was think this: “If we are searching for approval from other people…why don’t you just ask for it?” Simple. Easy as that. Now I can understand the counter-argument “But then you would be vulnerable!”. Well, if someone doesn’t want to accept you, then surely they aren’t worth your time any more, right? So instead of wondering if they will accept you, either ask them straight out, but if you know they aren’t even worth that, just walk away and never look back. In this case, Woody wasn’t going to walk away; it was his own son. The part that the search for approval becomes prevalent, is at the restaurant when Ed Pregram announced Woody’s fortune and when everyone started clapping, a smile of pleasant surprise came over his face.
The plot itself was just beautifully modest and sincere. Often movies come up with heavy sci-fi stories or action films with drones, but before contemplating possible threats, why don’t we try to solve the actual issues in people’s actual lives? Like debt, divorce, unemployment, drinking- you get the idea. Nebraska focuses on the everyday folks; the ones that are overlooked when “aliens land”, the ones that nobody ever notices when superman is busy saving people, the ones that struggle day in and day out just to save themselves and their families. These people, much like Woody Grant and his family, are their own heroes. They have more strength and courage than superman, just because, they do the things he does, but with much less.Showing us our own lives, this is why the film is nominated for an Oscar. And why it should be.
Let me know what you guys think in the comments below! 🙂
Verdict: 8.5 of 10 kicks