Books and Movies Reviews

Colors

The film, “Colors”, produced in 1988 by Dennis Hopper, is giving us a view of Los Angeles street gangs and how the police and community deal with them.What is ironic about the story is although there are plenty of scenes of violence and terror, the producer seems to take a more sympathetic stance toward the gangs, rather than to their victims.The police unit dealing with the gang activity includes the two main characters, “Pac man”, played by Sean Penn, a rookie in the unit, and” Hodges”, the veteran, played by Robert Duvall, who are at conflict with each other over police tactics when handling gang members.Maria Conchita Alonso is cast as the love interest for Sean Penn’s character. The relationship between the two stretches the boundaries of believability (a cop involved with a “home girl”), but is intended to give us an insider’s look at gang life from their perspective.
The mood of the film is one of tension, with darkly lit scenes, and typical oldies music playing in the background for the Hispanic gang and contemporary rap sounds for the African American gang, which alludes to the differences in culture between the two rival gangs. There were lots of aerial camera shots showing the gang neighborhoods on the outskirts of L.A., as though banished from mainstream society, a subtle depiction of the social dynamic of why outsiders join gangs in thefirst place.
The events that portray the film’s sympathy toward the gangs include a scene with Alonso’s (Pac man’s girlfriend) story of a tagger that was caught by Pac man, that she believed was treated cruelly by him with his punishment of painting the kid’s face with his own spray paint. She claims that the kid was her cousin and splits with Pac man, telling him she is one of them, a home girl, and that they are her family.The attitude that the gang members are part of a family (because they have no other) and not a group of violent offenders is both as realistic as it is …

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