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Sidney Lumet and His Concerns Essay

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Updated: Jul 26th, 2018

Each person who creates a piece of art has certain concerns that are usually presented with the help of interesting and thought-provoking themes, strong charismatic characters, and an appealing and attention-grabbing story. In this respect, it is necessary to analyze the movies created by an outstanding director Sydney Lumet who managed to provoke thoughts in his audience teaching them abut the life values and essential principles that should be followed.

A Stranger Among Us (1992)

A Stranger Among Us (1992) starring Melanie Griffith who played a role of Emily, a detective undercover, is the first movie that should be assessed in terms of theme, characters, and story. Emily lives in the family of rebbe and investigates a case of robbery committed by a step-daughter of rebbe who knew nothing about her past life.

This story is full of spirituality and seriousness because the main character is depicted as an independent and emancipated woman who thinks that her life is her own business and she is the only person who can decide for her.

This idea is suggested as a contrast to the fact that an arranged marriage will take place between the rebbe’s son and a girl he never saw before. In this respect, we can clearly see the relationships between American culture where women can do whatever they want and a highly spiritual Hasidic culture in accordance to which people can get married without knowing each other well enough.

So, the investigation intertwines closely to the spiritual development of Emily as the main character and gaining of understanding about other people and motives behind their actions.

One of the most powerful scenes is the one that took place in the store where Ariel (the rebbe’s son) cuts diamonds; two gangsters came to the place and demanded a sum of money given to them monthly for their services of protecting the store from all problems and concerns.

This scene ended ambiguously as Emily saw the actions of gangsters but did nothing to prevent them from doing so; it is clear that she worked undercover though she could inform her colleagues about that gang. Moreover, neither Ariel nor his sister made efforts to prevent those criminals from extorting money from them.

The story told in the movie A Stranger Among Us (1992) is similar to all stories used by Sydney Lumet where the director manages to introduce characters who by all means choose the side of observing the laws or the side of illegal actions. In this respect, the character of Melanie Griffith represents the positions believed by Lumet as she chooses the side of legal actions and protects the right of others to be in safe.

Though some characters really choose the side of good guys, other are definitely bad and the director does not show changes in characters in terms of their life way. However, he manages to show that the main character develops spiritually and recognizes her behavior as inappropriate for the Hasidic community.

Family Business (1989)

The second movie that should be discussed I terms of themes, characters, and story is the Family Business (1989) starring such celebrated actors as Sean Connery, Dustin Hoffman, and Matthew Broderick. Thus, we can see Sean Connery as the grandfather, Dustin Hoffman as his son while Matthew Broderick plays the role of son of Dustin Hoffman’s character.

Relationships between the members of one family that were ruined due to the desire of one of them to change his destiny and live a good life without criminal matters can be considered the major theme of the movie.

As the crimes were associated by Dustin Hoffman’s character with his father played by Sean Connery, he decided to protect his own son from the influence of criminal principles advocated by his own father. In this respect, the director managed to show the true family relations in the background of criminal activity exercised by all three men.

This story shows that men cannot change though every person should remember about his/her relatives and strive to keep in contact with them regardless of the conflicts and misunderstandings that could have happened in the past. All three main characters are shown as similar in one way and absolutely different in another. Thus, the grandfather has a ‘career of criminal’ as he likes what he does and is not going to give it up.

At the same time, his son is sure about the rightness of his decision to keep his own son farther from his grandfather whereas the mystery is revealed and the boy demonstrate interest and enthusiasm about performing some robbery together with his grandfather. It is clear that the relations between these people become better only when all three are operating together. This story also shows that the power of habits can make a person commit crimes again and again.

Sydney Lumet does not introduce anything new but approach for showing of basic principles of life. Talent of actors and the director enable them to create something outstanding whereas the story for this movie can be traced in a great number of families all over the world. Generation gap and attempts to do quite the opposite what a father has done can separate people for the whole life.

In this respect, the audience likes movies directed by Lumet because of the ideas and principles advocated by the director who manages to convey his message with the help of the story and characters. The Family Business (1989) directed by Sydney Lumet can be considered one of the feature films that provoke thoughts about relations with other members of the family and importance of keeping connections.

The themes and characters used by Sydney Lumet contribute greatly to the stories chosen for a screen version. The director feels the audience and chooses the themes that can evoke certain emotions in people and make them rethink their life positions and beliefs. The positions believed by Lumet find their reflection in the characters of his movies; this can be found in every movie because he manages to make every character distinctive and unique.

Though he can repeat what he said earlier, all words pronounced by characters are filled with specific meaning which is wise and thought-out.

These two movies A Stranger Among Us (1992) starring Melanie Griffith and Family Business (1989) starring Sean Connery, Dustin Hoffman, and Matthew Broderick can be compared to The Hill (1965) starring Sean Connery where the story reveals the actions that took place in a detention camp. The similar thing in these stories is that they have strong characters who know what they want from life and are sure what side to support.

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1. IvyPanda. "Sidney Lumet and His Concerns." July 26, 2018. https://ivypanda.com/essays/sidney-lumet-and-his-concerns/.


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IvyPanda. 2018. "Sidney Lumet and His Concerns." July 26, 2018. https://ivypanda.com/essays/sidney-lumet-and-his-concerns/.


IvyPanda. (2018) 'Sidney Lumet and His Concerns'. 26 July.

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