‘on the Waterfront Shows That Being True to Oneself Is More Important Than Being Loyal to One’s Friends.’ Discuss.

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‘On the Waterfront shows that being true to oneself is more important than being loyal to one’s friends.’ Discuss. Elia Kazan’s film, On the Waterfront clearly conveys that being true to oneself is more important than being loyal to one’s friends. The classic black and white documentary-style film reveals to viewers that life on the ‘fattest harbour in the world’ in the 1950’s on Hoboken, New Jersey is fraught with indignity and uncertainty. The protagonist, Terry Malloy proceeds in a slow transformation throughout the film from a failed prizefighter into the ‘contender he always thought he could’ be. Alongside the affection and guidance exemplified by Edie Doyle and Father Barry, Terry is able to find moral stability and a sense of self in order to testify. However, it is Terry’s loyalties with the mob and Johnny Friendly that prevent him from having a sense of moral righteousness. Furthermore, Charley proves that being true to oneself is more important than being loyal to one’s friends as he proves to be the ultimate sacrifice to stay loyal and true to himself. It is through the use of various cinematic techniques and film noir of light and dark, that viewers are able to explore and delve into Terry’s emotional and moral struggle between being true to oneself and being loyal to one’s friends. Throughout the film, Terry undergoes a slow transformation from remaining ‘D ‘n’ D’ and keeping silent about the corruption that surrounds him, to becoming a ‘stool pigeon’, testifying against the criminally corrupt union officials, and in doing so, risking the acceptance of the men on the waterfront. Adopting a documentary style approach while shooting in the docks of Hoboken, New Jersey, the film powerfully conveys the harsh lives of those attempting to survive in the face of poverty, powerlessness and exploitation. Terry is neither part of the longshoremen or the

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