Of Mice and Men: Critical Analysis of Movie

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In 1937 Director Gary Sinise and writer John Steinbeck published Of Mice and Men. The film Of Mice and Men is based around two friends traveling to a ranch for work to make money for their own land. One of the men has a mental health issue, and is constantly causing problems at any place the two men work. At the new ranch the two men are working at, it starts out okay. One issue arises between Curley and Lennie, only because Lennie is bigger than any of the other men which sparks jealousy.

Once the issue is resolved the men continue going on their daily routine of working the ranch. In the film the “bad guy” is shown to be Curley, and Curley’s Wife is known as the woman that sleeps around with all the guys and causes trouble between everyone. Throughout the entire film, Lennie and Curley have constant problems. George and Lennie both had the dream of having their own ranch, but with the problems Lennie caused the two men couldn’t stick with a job long enough to save up enough money before having to run off and find another ranch. Lennie would always do the same thing, which was the leading cause for the men to always leave and run off from the ranch’s.

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The setting of the film takes place on a ranch in California (cliffnotes), none of the men have very much money and rely on the farm and the work that needs to be done in order to get their pay. The film Of Mice and Men had taken place during the 1930’s therefore the characters were “old fashioned” when it came to their behavior and clothing. Throughout this film you will see the journey of George Milton and Lennie Small facing their many difficulties in finding and keeping a job, along with fights, girls, and the planning of their own ranch.

In the film Of Mice and Men, there are few motifs (sparknotes). One of the motifs is: “The Corrupting Power of Women” in the film, the outlook on women is very limited and harsh. It is shown many times for women to be bad, for example, George and Lennie are always running from ranch to ranch due to problems that arise between Lennie and the women. The women mistake Lennie’s love for soft colorful things and turn it into a rape accusation. George continues to say he blames Lennie’s behavior on the women for being “tempting” which would “cause men to react in sexual ways”. In the film all the workers on the ranch go to a “flophouse” which is a lot like a “prostitution house”, to drink and look at the women. While being in the flophouse George realizes he didn’t want a wife because of all the trouble and temptations they cause.

Curley’s wife realizes how tired of Curley she is and how bored she is with her life on the ranch. Therefore it leads to her constantly trying to talk to the other men on the ranch and causing Curley to be jealous which results in fights. Curley’s wife then turns to Lennie one day which resulted in her death when she panicked about Lennie touching her. When really Lennie just wanted to play with her hair. Curley’s wife had started yelling and screaming which put Lennie into a panic, and as he grabbed her, he snapped her neck and she died.

The next motif in the film, was “Loneliness and Companionship”, most of the men don’t stay on one ranch for very long, meaning they don’t have anyone to turn to or going along with them. Most of the men in the film express some sort of loneliness, including George. George moves from ranch to ranch because of his friend Lennie. The only person he has in the film is Lennie, who is a mentally ill man. George does show signs of being lonely and even expresses how being a “ranch hand” is very lonely since you are on your own working for your own money.

The last motif is “Strength and Weakness” there are many signs of both strength and weaknesses in the film Of Mice and Men. For example: a physical strength would be when Lennie kills the mice just by petting them. Lennie doesn’t know his own strength so when he thinks he is just petting them he is really squeezing them until they do die. Lennie has another point in the film for physical strength when he gets into an altercation with Curley, Curley swings on Lennie which causes Lennie to grab Curley’s hand and squeeze until all his fingers and bones in his hand are broken. A weakness in the film, is in fact Lennie’s mental issue. Lennie’s mental issues have caused both George and Lennie to have to run from ranch to ranch. In the ending of the film, Lennie had made a mistake and with the weakness of not knowing what to do, George shoots and kills Lennie.

In the film Of Mice and Men, there are also many “symbols”. For example, George and Lennie’s farm, the farm that George and Lennie have planned out in their head symbolizes their want for freedom and independence. The farm is their motivation to continue working and save up the money in order the buy the land and animals. Lennie’s puppy was also a symbol in the film. The puppy was given to Lennie so he could have something of his own to care for. George was hesitant about giving Lennie the puppy simply because Lennie didn’t know his own strength when it came to small animals. The puppy tested Lennie on caring for his own animal, like he wanted to when the two men got their own farmland.

Two other symbols in the film would be Candy’s dog, and Curley’s glove. Candy’s dog was very old, and had been with Candy for a very long time. The dog had gone with Candy from every ranch he had been at, and was his comfort for not being lonely. Curley’s glove was kept for his wife. Curley would wear a glove on one hand for when he fought all so he could “keep one hand nice for his wife”. Curley never went without the glove even when working, and we see in the film, a time when he was going to fight Curley purposefully put the glove on before starting anything.

For Mise-en-scene in the film Of Mice and Men, it immediately starts with the credits. In the scene with the credits the men are shown running to a train. In the train car you see the colors changing as it is shown to be dark but changes when the moonlight hits on the train car. Once the men are seen in the train car the coloration changes to a faint constant light due to the “moonlight”. There is also the barn scene with Lennie and Curley’s wife. As Curley’s wife and Lennie were talking it is known that it would be day time outside, but in the barn it is fairly darker due to the shade. As Lennie starts to hold onto Curley’s wife to keep her from screaming you can see the light coming through the barn walls hitting Curley’s wife as she is moved around by Lennie. Once Lennie accidentally kills her, Lennie lays her body in the stack of hay and the light focuses on Curley’s wife and shows everything else around her to be dark.

The film Of Mice and Men is a clearly well thought out and edited film. Throughout this film the director and editor had chosen to make the storyline slower and easier to catch on to. In the process of editing the film, it was wanted to be sure that the “audience” could catch on to the story and understand what was happening (Prezi). Throughout this film there were also many sound effects brought into story. Some of the sound effects included: Gun shots, Horses galloping, Dogs, Horseshoes being thrown, bus tires, and even as simple of sounds as birds. In each scene some sound effect was brought into play to make the film even more realistic and thought out. Without the many different sound effects and lighting the film would not have seemed as realistic as it had.

In the Film Of Mice and Men, there are about 8 main characters. Each character is different and has their own flaws and perfections. Starting with the first and probably most important character throughout the film: George Milton. George is a hard working lonely ranch hand he has the dream of having his own land and ranch one day but has to overcome many obstacles in his way of earning his money. Lennie Small is the next important character from the film. Lennie is a mentally ill large man. Lennie has caused some type pf problem at each ranch he has worked at. Lennie runs from ranch to ranch with George. George would be known as Lennie’s keeper. Next you have Candy, Candy is probably the oldest ranch worker in the film. Candy is defiantly one of the quietest and lonely men on the ranch. Candy doesn’t have anyone but a dog, and further on in the movie the other men shoot the dog due to it being very old and nasty.

Another character you see is Curley’s wife. Curley’s wife is really the only female you see throughout the film. Curley’s wife is known for causing trouble around the ranch with the other men. She starts flirting more with Lennie which had led to her death when he accidentally snapped her neck trying to keep her from yelling. Next is Curley, Curley is the ranch owners son. Curley is always starting fights and causing problems between the guys. Curley tries to start a fight with Lennie, but when he starts throwing punches, Lennie grabs Curley’s hand and squeezes until his hand is completely broken. Slim is the next character, Slim keeps track of most of the men on the ranch. Slim would be known as the boss below the ranch owner, he tells the men what to do and when to do it. Crooks is also a big character, because he is the only black man on the ranch. Crooks got his name from his crooked back in which he got from being kicked by a horse. The last main character is Carlson. Carlson isn’t very important but he is one of the meaner men on the ranch. Carlson is also the man that shot Candy’s dog. (shmoop)

In this Analysis of the film, most elements of film has been discussed along with all of the main characters.

Works Cited

  1. Of Mice and Men Sinise, Gary 1992 Story by: Steinbeck, John
  2. https://www.shmoop.com/of-mice-and-men/characters.html
  3. https://prezi.com/pcrslyud9ehp/of-mice-and-men/
  4. https://www.sparknotes.com/lit/micemen/motifs/


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