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The film Boyz N The Hood is based on quite serious topics for reflection on the life of the black population of the United States of America, namely: crime, poverty, racism, etc. The plot is based on the story of four childhood friends who have to survive in one of the most criminal districts of Los Angeles. One half chooses education followed by college, while the other half lives by the harsh laws of the street. The film not only plays a great tribute to its time but also gives push to many social themes that would be relevant within the next few decades.
The film was released in 1991 and tells a coming-of-age story within the context of rising gangster culture. The plot follows the life of Tre Styles who finds himself in bad company over time. One of his childhood friends turns to gangster life, eventually getting into the crime story. There are also frames with "thoughts" or "stories" of the main characters (Singleton). This allows the audience to empathize with the characters and get a sense of the “hood life” in 1990s.
The film largely raises the themes of living in the black ghetto, gangster life, survival on the streets, shooting, and drugs, but one gets the feeling that the film was made for teenagers. The protagonist, unlike his friends, is raised by his father and gets a clear vision of what is good and what is bad, but in black areas. Being a good guy is not so easy when life can be threatened for a pair of sneakers. Life on the streets is dangerous because everyone has a gun. And where the next bullet will fly out is not known, and therefore life is valuable, just like friendship (Ware). Essentially, while criticizing racism and social issues of black neighborhoods, the film director John Singleton reminds the audience about the value of kindness and friendship.
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The film raises an acute problem, it is not just an action movie, but rather a dramatic and problematic film. The first half of the film is about the childhood of friends, and the second is about their adult life. The film is for different ages and will be of interest to teenagers and adults. After all, this is a film about one of the stories from the life of ordinary black guys from a not very prosperous area (Singleton). The chronology of the movie allows the viewers to assess the main characters and their dynamic rather than characters in a vacuum. Tre and his friends grow personally, change their attitudes, behaviors, and approaches. At the same time, their general traits remain the same, and the essence of their worldviews holds on.
Another peculiar thing about the film is that it is very thrilling and holds the viewer on the edge of their seat at all times. All kinds of showdowns, shootings happen almost all the time. At the same time, the film’s drama creates a sense of credibility. It seems like the events that happen in the film might happen in real life. Most things shown in the movie, from racist police officers and murders to drug trafficking have taken place in the United States in the 90s at some point (Ware). This adds yet another layer to the film making it much more than a gangster drama or a coming-of-age movie. The sense of credibility present in the film provides a serious critique of modern American society and questions whether the current regulations are inclusive enough.
The soundtrack of the film is also worth mentioning as it adds much to the general atmosphere and gives way to some serious immersion. Throughout the film, the audience can enjoy rap songs of those times that have already become a classic and talk about the streets, murders, and drugs, in general, about dangerous areas like Compton and such (Ware). The sounds typical for the hoods of the time evoke even more sensations that the characters might experience, thus, putting the audience in their shoes.
The theme of the film is interesting and, despite being released over 30 years ago, it is still relevant today. The picture carries a certain semantic load, and the plot makes you think about certain life values. At the same time, all action scenes are thrilling enough to correspond with its declared genre, an action movie. Boyz N The Hood definitely fits the mood and the gangster hood atmosphere much romanticized during the 1990s.
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Singleton, John. Boyz N The Hood. Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc., 1991.
Ware, Lawrence. ‘Boyz N The Hood’ At 30: A Vivid Examination Of Racism At Work”. The NY Times, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/12/movies/boyz-n-the-hood-john-singleton.html.
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