Film Summary Cinderella Man

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Cinderella Man is a 2005 film that is set during the great depression and follows struggling professional boxer, James J. Braddock as he attempts to provide for his family amid a looming financial crisis. The plot of financial crisis allows for the application of several themes involving gender differences, feminism, class differences, commodification, class exploitation, and cultural hegemony. For example, several characters within the film suffer from the consequence of the financial crisis. This allows for a comparative assessment of varying responses to the great depression. Following a bout that leaves him with a broken hand, Braddock is forced to give up a promising boxing career and begins working at the docks. As a consequence, his family suffers and he risks losing part of family. In this case, despite being a hard-worker, the high demand for jobs, low wages, and his ailing hand limit his capacity to support his family forcing him to ask for charity and register for welfare.

After a period of financial anguish, his friend, Joe Gould is able to book him a series of high-profile bouts that allow him to gain his financial independence once more. His win over Max Baer for the heavyweight championship is perceived as a symbolic representation of national hope. Analysis The film primarily views sports as a mobility escalator as seen in the facilitation of the main character’s upward social mobility through his hardwork, dedication, and focus. This involves growth from low socioeconomic backgrounds as seen in the acquisition of fame and fortune (Eitzen and Sage 188). With this in mind, one of the key theories in the film is the social conflict theory.

It proposes that the interaction between individuals and groups is based on conflict as opposed to consensus (Mosher and Akins 73). It views social life within the logic of competition as seen in the distribution of power, resources, and inequality. The theme of social conflict theory is quite widespread within the film. For example, ‘Cinderella Man’ depicts a vision of loss, poverty, and despair across multiple social strata within its setting. At the same time, seemingly wealthy individuals and families are able to maintain their luxurious lifestyle with little regard for their impoverished counterparts. These social differences cause several social problems that pit groups against each other. This hypothesis is proven through the riots that caused the death of Mike Wilson, Braddock’s friend. In this case, it is suggested that the ‘commies’ started the riot (Howard 1:26:10). This suggests an underlying form of class warfare sparked by financial challenges in light of the great depression. The riots can, therefore, be interpreted as the application of social conflict theory.

Another clear manifestation of social conflict theory is tied to the concept of class exploitation both of which are a consequence of the massive wealth inequality. For example, in the film, Joe Gould dismisses James Johnston’s false concern for Braddock’s safety on the ring and suggests that the latter’s only concern is his capacity to make money. Second, symbolic interactionism requires the consideration of symbols and inherent details in everyday life. More specifically, it suggests that people’s actions towards different things is based on their preconceptions of what those things mean to them and in turn, meaning is derived from social interaction and is subsequently modified or altered through interpretation. This perspective can be highlighted through an assessment of Braddock’s sense of duty to his family, marriage, friendships, and community. In the first case, he considers his responsibilities to his family in the highest of regard and struggles to keep it together regardless of his suffering. More specifically, his sense of duty are an embodiment of integral American values that are synonymous with national traditions.

For example, despite being impoverished, he condemns his son when he steals a slab of salami from the local meat store and justifies the act as an attempt to feed his hungry family and prevent its separation. He suggests that people have to work to avert their problems and not reduce themselves to basic instincts. The third concept is tied to the representation of functionalism, which can be seen through an analysis of Braddock’s marriage. In this case, the placement of ultimate family responsibilities on Braddock provides proof of the functionalist theory. In this regard, the functionalist perspective suggests that social functions are supported by different parts. Here, Wilson, Gould, and Braddock are largely perceived providers for their respective families. For example, Gould’s wife suggests that they have to wait for their husbands to fix everything (Howard 1:10:19).

Despite the underlying implications for feminist thought, the film exposes a functional perspective to family. Discussion Braddock’s successes in the arena despite the challenges in his life contribute to the view that sports is an important avenue out of poverty (Eitzen and Sage 194). This effect is reinforced through the emotional aspects of his life. In addition, the movie’s main purpose is the fulfillment of moral and ethical growth. It emphasizes the importance of sacrifice, dedication, loyalty, and endurance. Despite Braddock’s successes, this theme is flawed, especially since statistical evidence contradict the notion of sports as an integral facilitator of upward mobility (Eitzen and Sage 194). Regardless, the movie uplifts positive attributes and either ignores or condemns alternative views on life and society. This hypothesis is based on the main character’s achievements. As far as society is concerned, the movie allows the audience to visualize the depths to which human beings can reach in light of radical socio-economic changes, challenges, and problems. These issues are well-represented in current affairs where poverty and growing wealth and income inequality have resulted in higher levels of crime as represented by the social conflict theory.

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Film Summary Cinderella Man. (2021, Dec 29). Retrieved April 18, 2024 , from

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