What is the primary emphasis of the film or show?
The primary emphasis in “Breaking Bad” is the artistic expression. This is done mainly through the character, Mr. White. He was a chemistry teacher, but was diagnosed with lung cancer. He can’t afford the treatment and so he starts cooking methamphetamine. His character goes through a major transformation from the beginning to the end of the show, and that is the focus of the show.
What cultural values is the film or show attempting to promote?
The show is breaking down the walls of what is believed to be acceptable, and showing the transformation that a person could be capable of. The values of an average family are put into question when someone faces the difficult decision about whether he should break the law so that he is able to afford his cancer treatments.
What is the surface-level subject matter of the film?
The story is about a chemistry teacher who is married and has a son, but he faces devastating news when he finds out he has cancer. He then starts cooking methamphetamine so that he can pay for treatment. His character goes through a major transformation, and becomes a far darker person than he once was.
What trends in this film or show are also commonly found in other films or shows?
The trend that stands out to me the most, is the transformation of a character. Many scripts feature a character who starts out in one way and then finishes as a completely different person. An example of that is Tyler Durden in “Fight Club.” In that film Ed Norton starts off as a regular person, but then opens up a fight club and becomes an anarchist.
What is the subtext or underlying theme of the film? What issues or values are explored in the film or show?
The subtext relates to the question about whether it is evil to cook meth. The audience starts to cheer for the lead character, even though he is a drug kingpin. This puts into question whether supplying drugs is as evil as we make it out to be. While there are many innocent people harmed by drugs, the market is keyed to outcasts who are already at rock bottom.
What cultural stereotypes or archetypes are present in the narrative? What is the purpose behind the stereotypes or archetypal character?
Mr. White’s helper, Jessie, is a white person who acts like he is black. He is portrayed in a way that is stereotypical to white people acting like they are black. This is presented with the way he walks, talks and with what he wears. The purpose behind the stereotype is because it is very true of many people, especially around Jessie’s age.
What is the source of conflict in the narrative of the film or show? How is the conflict resolved in the film or show?
The source of conflict is in Mr. White himself. He is conflicting between good and evil. There is the drug king pin, and on the other end, there is the loving husband and father. This conflict continues, and gradually the drug king pin side of him takes over. We don’t know how this resolves because the final season hasn’t been aired.
In what way is sound or music used to tell the story or to manipulate the viewer response?
The film uses hollow sounds when depicting Mr. White when he is cooking meth. There are a lot of large sliding doors that open with the echo of a large meth lab waiting for him. This helps convey that this is an empty and hollow side of his life but, ironically, it is what is giving him life, as it allows him to afford cancer treatment.
What ethical issues or moral dilemmas are explored in the film? Describe your reaction to issues. Do you agree or disagree with how the issues were portrayed? Why or why not?
The overarching issue is whether it is okay to cook drugs and sell them. The show reveals the highs and lows of the drug trade, and I don’t think it is advocating that it is wrong or acceptable. I agree with how the issue is portrayed, because it appears to be honest. I like that there are times when tragic things happen, as it shows there is certainly a dark side to manufacturing drugs.
What types of editing techniques or technical effects are used to tell the story?
I notice that when Mr. White is going through a conflicting time, the lighting changes. It is very shadowy, and shows Mr. White with some of his face in the light, and some of it in the darkness. This subtly tells the audience that there are two sides to this character.
Does viewing films or shows like this affect how you form your individual identity? Why or why not?
I think viewing these types of films affects how I form my identity. I’ve found that when a show is good, there will be a character I relate to. I will then generally take on that character’s attitude unwillingly. For example, Dr. Gregory House in the show “House” made me have a very negative outlook and I think I became very sarcastic after watching his show a lot. It’s really hard to say why that is. I think maybe the border between who I am and who the character is becomes faded when I watch a show too much.