Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Prison Film

  Prison film is the genre of that focuses on prison life or imprisoned characters. Generally a prison escape, a crime or just a depiction of prison life takes place. The term crime film (at least in the pre-code era) is used interchangeably with prison film, as well as with chain gang film. The Big House (1930) is said to be, the prototype of the genre prompted by the Ohio Penitentiary fire where guards refused to free prisoners, which resulted in about 300 deaths. Chain gang films were also created in the same manner. They were a response to the cruelty of the chain gang system, which was prevalent mostly in the southern states of the U.S. I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932), also a pre-code film, depicted life in prison as well. Especially, a conviction to a chain gang, which is when prisoners are chained to one another in order to perform some kind of boring or physically demanding work as a shape of punishment.  Since this genre appealed only to men, and not a bit to women they did not have strong box performances.

  However, as of 1991, I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang has been considered a culturally, historically and aesthetically significant so it was selected for preservation by the United States National Film Registry. This film, in specific, prompted the questioning of some of the measures used in the U.S. legal system and  persuaded the release of chain gang victims. Notable prison moves include: Cool Hand Luke (1967),  Escape From New York (1981), The Shawshank Redemption (1994), and The Green Mile (1999). Some of them, even though, considered underdogs when first released have become milestones of the genre.

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