Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

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Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is now over seventy years old. Does the movie stand the test of time?

The movie, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, is a classic tale of an ‘underdog’ saving the day.

The film is about an idealistic and naive young man named Jefferson Smith, a role played by the very talented James Stewart, who becomes appointed to the United States Senate where he gains the mentorship of, presidential hopeful and childhood hero, the ‘noble’ Senator Joseph Paine, a character brought to life by Claude Rains. In Washington, however, Jefferson discovers many of the short-comings of the political process. Paine is seen getting involved in a scheme to discredit Jefferson, who had set out to build the boys' campsite at a location where, in Senator Paine’s opinion, a more lucrative project could go. With the determination to stand up against Senator Paine and his corrupt peers, Jefferson takes to the Senate floor to plead his case.

With regard to the question, I am of the strong opinion that the movie has stood the test of time. The issues addressed in a movie from the year 1939 are relevant today especially when touching on the government and its inner workings. It points out the rot in society and the kind of corruption that goes on. On top of it all, it points out, through Jefferson’s words, what would happen if we do not put an end to this corruption. It urges those in government offices to speak out against the likes of Senator Paine so that corruption can be weeded out. It would basically be fixing the problem at the root and those with the power to do it are those who are already on the inside.

I also feel that the movie cuts across many governments and regimes. This is because I am of the opinion that corruption is not a problem specific to the United States government. This means the lessons to be learnt from the film are also applicable worldwide. Lest we forget the question of time, nature dictates that for a society, and its members, to run smoothly, it is necessary for there to be rules. These rules are made by those at the top of the hierarchical pyramid. This will always be the case even in times to come meaning that the movie was applicable in the past, still has a significant standing in present times, and will influence the future in a very big way if the lessons in it are put into action.

In conclusion, I feel that it is important to point out that Jefferson showed us what path to take once you are given power. In this movie we see him being given a bit of power which he uses to right, and expose, some of the wrongs in society. His character gives us a clear guideline on how one should use their position of power while Senator Paine’s character on the other hand is a clear indication of how one can misuse power and instead make it a gateway for exploitation of members of the society behind the scenes while making them believe he is a saint.

September 25, 2023




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Film Analysis

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