The Majestic (film)

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The Majestic
The Majestic poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Frank Darabont
Produced by Frank Darabont
Written by Michael Sloane
Starring Jim Carrey
Bob Balaban
Brent Briscoe
Jeffrey DeMunn
Amanda Detmer
Allen Garfield
Hal Holbrook
Laurie Holden
Martin Landau
Ron Rifkin
David Ogden Stiers
James Whitmore
Music by Mark Isham
Cinematography David Tattersall
Edited by Jim Page
Production
  company
Castle Rock Entertainment
Village Roadshow Pictures
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date(s)
  • December 11, 2001 (2001-12-11) (United States: premiere)
  • December 21, 2001 (2001-12-21) (United States: wide)
Running time 152 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $72 million[2]
Box office $37,317,558[2]

The Majestic is a 2001 American drama film directed and produced by Frank Darabont and starring Jim Carrey. Written by Michael Sloane, the film features a supporting cast of Bob Balaban, Brent Briscoe, Jeffrey DeMunn, Amanda Detmer, Allen Garfield, Hal Holbrook, Laurie Holden, Martin Landau, Ron Rifkin, David Ogden Stiers and James Whitmore. Filmed in Ferndale, California,[3] it premiered on December 11, 2001, and was released in the United States on December 21, 2001. Jim Carrey's performance in The Majestic was a departure from his previous work, which until then had mostly been comedy films. The film received mixed to negative reviews from critics and with a gross of $37 million worldwide against a budget of $72 million, The Majestic was a box office bomb.

Plot[edit]

In 1951, Peter Appleton is an up-and-coming young screenwriter in Hollywood, who learns that he has been accused of being a communist because he attended an antiwar meeting in college years before, a meeting he claims he only attended to impress a girl. In an instant, his new film is pushed back for a few months, the credit is given to someone else, his movie star girlfriend leaves him, and his contract with the studio is dropped.

Appleton gets drunk and accidentally drives his car off a bridge and into a river. He is knocked unconscious, wakes up on an ocean beach with amnesia, and finds himself in a small town called Lawson after being discovered by Stan Keller who takes him to the local doctor, Doc Stanton. The townsfolk believe him to be Luke Trimble, one of the town boys killed in World War II, who just happens to look exactly like Peter, and embrace him as a symbol of hope. "Luke" is at first mildly hesitant to embrace this life but he eventually settles in to "his old life", and with his "father" Harry and his "girlfriend" Adele Stanton, starts to restore The Majestic theater, an old movie house that has been closed because of hard times.

A few days later, the town throws a welcome home party for "Luke". Peter, Harry, Adele, and the other staff members of The Majestic and the rest of the townsfolk work together to restore the theater to its former glory. Peter also convinces the town to finally display a memorial that President Franklin D. Roosevelt had commissioned after the war, but which the town did not have the heart to erect.

Peter recovers from his amnesia when The Majestic shows a movie he wrote called Sand Pirates of the Sahara. At the same moment, Harry suffers a massive heart attack before the reel change, halting the movie. Doc tells Peter that Harry's condition is fatal and that he will die soon. At Harry's deathbed, Peter lets him die believing that he is really Harry's son. Immediately after Harry's funeral, Peter tells Adele that he has regained his memory and knows that he is not Luke. Adele admits that she suspected it. Before he can break the news to the other townspeople, federal agents confront him publicly. The federal agents present Peter with a summons to appear before a Congressional committee specially convened in Los Angeles.

Peter's agent advises him to "admit" and then denounce his past associations with the Communist Party, and presents him with a list of named "communists" that he could read before the committee to clear his name. Initially, Peter reluctantly agrees to this plan, but an argument with Adele and a letter he finds in a pocket-sized copy of the U.S. Constitution that was written as a sort of "goodbye letter" from the real Luke trying to explain to Adele that he knows he might die for a real cause, inspire Peter to instead confront the committee.

At the hearing, headed up by Congressman Doyle and televised, with the citizens of Lawson also watching, Peter makes an impassioned speech about American ideals, which wins the crowd over. Fearing a political backlash, the lawmakers let him go free. Soon afterwards, Peter, in disgust, leaves Hollywood and his career.

Peter then returns to Lawson, fearing an unwelcome reception. Instead, he receives a hero's welcome from the town's citizens, who have come to respect him as an individual. Peter then resumes ownership and management of The Majestic, he gets married to Adele, and the two have a son together.

Cast[edit]

Production notes[edit]

Luke's father Harry is shown projecting the 1925 silent film The Big Parade on the torn screen while Emmett Smith (Gerry Black) watches in the theater holding his dog, reminiscing about France and World War I. The scene shown is Melisande desperately trying to hold onto James as he is being sent up to the front lines. The Big Parade is not named in the film, and is only referenced by Harry as "the first film ever shown in the theater."

A brief appearance of the golden idol from Raiders of the Lost Ark can be seen in Appleton's in-film movie, Sand Pirates of the Sahara.

The letter from Luke that Adele gives to Peter contains many lines that are similar to the farewell letter written by Sullivan Ballou to his wife shortly before he was killed at the First Battle of Bull Run.

In one scene a band plays "Stranger on the Shore", a song that wasn't published until the 1960s.

There is a brief scene of The Coco Bongo Club, a club that was featured in a prior Jim Carrey film, The Mask.

Location[edit]

The town of Ferndale, California[4] provided many of the interior and exterior locations for The Majestic.[5] The namesake theater was built as a false-front in the Ferndale municipal parking lot, and many Main Street buildings were modified by the film company.[5]

Reception[edit]

The film met with mixed to negative reviews from many critics. It holds a 42% "Rotten" score on the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 138 reviews, with the consensus "Ponderous and overlong, The Majestic drowns in forced sentimentality and resembles a mish-mash of other, better films."[6] Kenneth Turan of Los Angeles Times commented that it was a "derivative, self-satisfied fable that couldn't be more treacly and simple-minded if it tried".[7]

One exception to this was Roger Ebert, who awarded the film 3 and a half stars and praised the film and its ideals:

"It flies the flag in honor of our World War II heroes, and evokes nostalgia for small-town movie palaces and the people who run them... Frank Darabont has deliberately tried to make the kind of movie Capra made, about decent small-town folks standing up for traditional American values. In an age of Rambo patriotism, it is good to be reminded of Capra patriotism--to remember that America is not just about fighting and winning, but about defending our freedoms."[8]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "THE MAJESTIC (PG)". Warner Bros. British Board of Film Classification. January 14, 2002. Retrieved September 6, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b "The Majestic)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved January 27, 2014.
  3. ^ "The Majestic - Starring Jim Carrey & Ferndale, California!". Victorian Village Inn. Retrieved 2010-01-27. 
  4. ^ Haeseler, Rob (17 April 1995). "Hollywood Invades Humboldt County". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 14 January 2012. 
  5. ^ a b "The Majestic". Northern California Filming locations. Film in America. 2011. Retrieved January 27, 2014. 
  6. ^ "The Majestic (2001)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved January 27, 2014.
  7. ^ "Beyond Criticism". Los Angeles Times. January 5, 2002.
  8. ^ Ebert, Roger (December 21, 2001). "The Majestic". Chicago Sun-Times. 

External links[edit]