In the book The Man of the Crowd, the key character and at the same time the narrator whose name is unknown to the reader, is assessing his life by placing himself behind another character, a decrepit old man (Edgar 45). The same technique can be traced in the movie called Manhattan; in this movie, the main character called Isaac, is living a wrecked life, but what is worse, he does not have a clue about it, he regards his life as normal. His ignorance of the type of life he leads makes the situation even worse; he cannot make decisions about what kind of woman to date, and even when to date with them. He has been divorced twice, and as the movie comes into play, he is dating a schoolgirl who despite her tender age is deeply in love with him. However, he takes advantage of the girl’s young age and uses it as a leverage to abandon her and walks straight into the arms of his best friend’s mistress.
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The decision to court Mary is not Isaac’s one; he does this simply because his friend Yale advised her to him. The decision was made after his friend told him that his current girlfriend and lover Tracy was very young for him. This gesture which can be regarded as a weak Isaac’s trait of character depicts him as a person with a poor self-evaluation. This trait further emphasizes the fact that he is a person who is living in other people’s lives.
In one of the scenes, when he finally gets back home where Tracy is waiting for him, he says he is late because of her as she is leaving for England but, what is more important, the credits start to roll (Edgar 48)
The unnamed narrator in the book The Man in the Crowd also lives a similar life. In the huge city of London, he picks a frail old man who is smilingly haunted by his past wrongdoings and for no apparent reason begins to follow him. The old man is rightly assumed to be a reflection of the narrator (Edgar 45). The movie, Manhattan, employs a number of stylistic devices and literary features to communicate his traits of character either literally or analytically. Some of these features are discussed below.
The first analytical communication lies right at the outset of the movie. The movie rolls into play with a mixture of scenes shot in the city of Manhattan. Some of these scenes are shot in poorly lit and dirty backstreets, others feature sophisticated pieces of property, while the third is broken and rundown facilities. Such scenes are used to portray diversity which exists in the city. London is a huge city with people of numerous and diverse backgrounds. The director is, therefore, trying to capture and depict this diversity within social classes as well as the culture in his movie. One more point and another similarity are in the use of the term “crowd” in the short story The Man of the Crowd. In this story, it symbolizes diversity and so are the montage city scenes in the movie.
Most of the characters in the movie do not approve of the relationship between Isaac and Tracy. His best friend Yale even offers to give him his mistress because he believes that his current relationship is illicit. The fact that Isaac finally exchanges Tracy for Mary is the proof that he was not comfortable with the relationship. Jeremiah is a married man but he still keeps Mary close to him and does not let go. Isaac is in a relationship with a minor while his best friend is cheating on his wife. These are the ills and drawbacks of the society they are living that are clearly seen and evident for the viewers.
The director chooses music for the movie that not only serves as a background to it but it breaks dullness of a boring dialogue. It accompanies most of the scenes and is used to set both the theme and mood of a scene. The use of black and white coloring is simply used to loosen the audience. The author uses this technique to take the movie back in time and this is a feature that he manages to achieve in the film.
Isaac describing Manhattan as “a metaphor for the decay of contemporary culture” certainly regards the movie as a moral tale (Edgar 50). To validate this, the story line that the movie follows is marked with lots of dissipation. Isaac is divorced twice and currently dating a minor, his best friend is cheating on his wife with a lady that he at the same time easily offers to Isaac, Isaac’s first wife is a lesbian, etc.; all these issues are a true reflection of a morally decayed society.
Therefore, one can conclude in the end that the movie is not purely about Manhattan city but about the people that can live and scenes that could happen anywhere across the world.
Edgar, Poe. The Man of the Crowd, New York, NY: Mc Graw Hill, 1840. Print.