Human Rights – Philadelphia Essay

I watched the movie Philadelphia for the first time and took in the portrayal of a man that is discriminated and fired from his workplace because he is living with the AIDS virus. For those who have not seen it, Tom Hanks (Andy Beckett) plays a lawyer living in the City of Brotherly Love (Philadelphia) who has just been promoted until one executive at the firm notices Andy’s lesions and soon papers from his critical case disappear from his office just minutes before he is due in Court.

Andy is later fired from the firm from what they claim Andy to be irresponsible with a temper that has put the firm at jeopardy. Shocked and appalled by what is clear to be a set up to avoid what is actually the real reason Andy was fired, for having AIDS; Andy decides to find representation to sue the firm for their negligence and discrimination against him. Being denied nine times Andy finally decides to seek representation from Joe Miller, ( Denzel Washington), a young black attorney who had once competed against Andy in a case.

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At first Joe declined, but after reflecting a little more on the nature of discrimination Joe decides that Andy does have a case and decides to help him. What kind of assumptions does this movie make about death? The assumptions that this movie makes about death is that death is promised to everyone. However, not everyone is at grips to except that death is a part of life. So they tend to space themselves as far away as possible to avoid it’s reality and want no part of those who are sick and do except that death is promised to them such as Andy Beckett.

This movie also makes the assumption that a man living with the AIDS virus has no business working at a firm with a life threatening virus that has made no apparent effort to speak publicly the he is a homosexual man living with AIDS. Although, if Andy had gone public about his sexuality and condition it is only obvious that these problems would arrive in the workplace sooner and Andy would be walk through those office doors feeling humiliated. What are the underlying values about life and death that are expressed/implied?

The underlying values about life and death are that the this country strives on life; that is the young, the healthy, the strong. Whether it be old people that are no longer a supporting force in the economy or patients that are fighting a illness that has no cure; the fact is that these individuals no matter who it be are not regarded in this country as first class citizen of The United States. Life is what keeps this country moving, not death; so those with death on their shoulder are sometimes pushed to the side and looked down as an outcast of society, particularly AIDS patients.

How realistic is the portrayal of death? Is death glorified and if so, for what purpose? The portrayal of death is very realistic and Andy Beckett (Tom Hanks) shows us that. He is constantly getting treated for his sickness and has attacks at home as well as at the court trial. I do not think death is glorified but the reality that someone living with death is definitely touched upon. Andy Beckett wakes up every day knowing that there is no cure for his sickness and being strong is the only way to be for himself as well as the morale of others who know that he is living with the sickness.

How did the characters” experiences with death or the threat of death affect their lives/beliefs/values? The constant threat of death in Andy’s life is a reminder that life should not be taken for granted. In that, I believe that this made Andy live everyday with open eyes and an open heart. He treated others with the same dignity and respect that he expected to be treated. Although this was not always the occasion Andy did not judge others for there ignorance. What is the movie trying to teach us about death? Is the lesson overt or covert?

What the movie is trying to teach us about death is that those living with AIDS or any other life threatening illness should not be treated any differently than any one else. All men are created equal and no one should have experience discrimination because of their race, sexuality, beliefs, etc. The lesson is overt when Andy takes the firm to court and reveals all reactions to employees reacting to Andy’s illness. Are the values expressed universally applicable, or do they seem to relate to only certain racial, ethnical and/or socioeconomic groups?

I think the values are universally applicable for those who have ever been discriminated against. It is universally applicable because at one time or another everyone has been judged or discriminated against whether they were aware of it or not. That is what makes this movie universal and lets everyone take side with Andy Beckett. How were you affected by the portrayal of death in this movie? I was affected by the suffering Andy Beckett goes through on a day to day schedule and still finds the strength to be strong for everybody.

How calm and collect he was when he visited his family to address that he would be going to court. It seems that those who have come to terms with the fact that they are going to die often have a better outlook on life. Even on his last moments on his bed at the hospital Andy remained grounded on every level. I find people like that to be inspiring. And finally when Andy did pass away the family celebrated Andy’s death by leaving you with home videos taken of Andy as a kid. Those last few minutes as Andy as a kid really do touch you.