The Majestic (film)
The Majestic poster
|Directed by||Frank Darabont|
|Produced by||Jim Behnke
|Written by||Michael Sloane|
David Ogden Stiers
|Music by||Mark Isham|
|Editing by||Jim Page|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
|Running time||152 minutes|
The Majestic is a 2001 American drama film, directed by Frank Darabont and starring Jim Carrey and Laurie Holden. Written by Michael Sloane, the film features a supporting cast of Martin Landau, David Ogden Stiers, James Whitmore, Bob Balaban, Jeffrey DeMunn, and Hal Holbrook. Filmed in Ferndale, California, it premiered on December 11, 2001, and was released in the US and Canada 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.
||This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (October 2012)|
In 1951, Peter Appleton (Jim Carrey), an up-and-coming young screenwriter, is in a meeting of Hollywood executives who are dreaming up ways to radically change the plot of a movie he has written. Not long after, he 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 (James Whitmore) who takes him to the local doctor named Doc Stanton (David Ogden Stiers). The townsfolk believe him to be Luke Trimble, one of the town boys killed in World War II nine years before,who just so 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 (Martin Landau) and his "girlfriend" Adele Stanton (Laurie Holden), starts to restore The Majestic theater, an old movie house that had been closed because of hard times.
Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., Congressional committee member Elvin Clyde (Bob Balaban) is convinced that Appleton's disappearance is proof that he is a Communist. Clyde sends two federal agents to search for him. Back in Lawson, not everyone believes that "Luke" is back.
A few days later, the town throws a welcome home party for "Luke" headed by Mayor Ernie Cole (Jeffrey DeMunn). The town then asks him to play the piano, but instead of playing one of the classics he was taught to play as a kid, he falls into a roadhouse boogie tune. On his way home, he runs into Bob Leffert (Karl Bury), a one-handed veteran who knew the real Luke, did not like him, and is convinced that Peter is not Luke. Bob then punches him when Peter makes a remark about how the war must have damaged him more than is readily apparent. 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 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 death bed, 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, however, federal agents Ellerby (Daniel von Bargen) and Saunders (Shawn Doyle) confront him publicly. The federal agents present Peter with a summons to appear before Congress.
That night, Peter talks with Emmett (the theater's usher), who tells Peter that he realized that Peter wasn't Luke the moment Emmett heard Peter "pounding out that fine roadhouse boogie" tune on the piano, which Luke could never learn to play. Emmett kept quiet, realizing that the town needed "Luke" to be the town's hope for the future. 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 Constitution that was written as a sort of "goodbye letter" from the real Luke (voiced by Matt Damon) 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 (Hal Holbrook) which is 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. Peter then finds out that it was, in fact, the girl that he went to the college meeting with years before that named him to the committee. Soon after, Peter sits in with the same group of unseen studio executives that was heard at the film's opening, brainstorming changes to the plot of the same film yet again. Exasperated, Peter walks away from them, and his career, in disgust.
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 Peter as an individual. The epilogue shows that Peter has resumed ownership and management of The Majestic. Still photos in the residence above the movie house reveal that Adele and Peter got married and had a son.
Production notes 
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (October 2012)|
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."
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.
Main cast 
- Jim Carrey - Peter Appleton
- Laurie Holden - Adele Stanton
- Martin Landau - Harry Trimble
- David Ogden Stiers - Doc Stanton
- James Whitmore - Stan Keller
- Gerry Black - Emmett Smith
- Jeffrey DeMunn - Mayor Ernie Cole
- Brent Briscoe - Sheriff Cecil Coleman
- Catherine Dent - Mabel
- Ron Rifkin - Kevin Bannerman
- Allen Garfield - Leo Kubelsky
- Amanda Detmer - Sandra Sinclair
- Hal Holbrook - Congressman Doyle
- Bob Balaban - Elvin Clyde
- Daniel von Bargen - Federal Agent Ellerby
- Shawn Doyle - Federal Agent Saunders
- Csilla Horvath - Nurse Muriel
- Earl Boen - Newsreel Announcer (voice)
- Bruce Campbell - Roland the Intrepid Explorer
- Cliff Curtis - The Evil But Handsome Prince Khalid
- Michael Sloane - Kindly Old Professor Meredith
- Matt Damon - Luke Trimble (voice)
- J. Edgar Hoover - Himself (archive footage, uncredited)
- Garry Marshall - Studio Executive #1 (voice cameo)
- Paul Mazursky - Studio Executive #2 (voice cameo)
- Sydney Pollack - Studio Executive #3 (voice cameo)
- Carl Reiner - Studio Executive #4 (voice cameo)
- Rob Reiner - Studio Executive #5 (voice cameo)
The town of Ferndale, California provided many of the interior and exterior locations for The Majestic. 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.
The film met with mixed reviews from many critics; it received a score of 42% based on the percentage of reviews tallied by Rotten Tomatoes which were positive. 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". A notable exception to this trail was Roger Ebert, who 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."
See also 
- The Majestic (2001) - Box Office Mojo
- "The Majestic in Ferndale". Retrieved 2010-05-11.
- Haeseler, Rob (17 April 1995). "Hollywood Invades Humboldt County". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 14 January 2012.
- "The Majestic". Northern California Filming locations. Film in America. 2011. Retrieved 14 January 2012.
- The Majestic - Rotten Tomatoes
- "The Majestic". Chicago Sun-Times.
- The Majestic at the Internet Movie Database
- The Majestic at AllRovi
- Warner Brothers' DVD official site
- The Majestic at Rotten Tomatoes