The Pursuit of Happyness – is it the whole picture?


Based on a true story, The Pursuit of Happyness reflects the idea of what is happiness, and how you get it. It is a touching and meaningful story, and it is quite successful in expressing the message. But is it the whole picture of happiness? Does it missed something, or even hide something?

** Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow. **

How I interpret the film

One may interpret the film as “Gardner get happiness because he get a good job, and he will get rich”. The ending of film tells us Gardner earns a lot afterwards, and that may brings the previous point of view. But I do not believe that it is the true message from the film. The happiness is not because he knows he will get rich, it is because he work hard and archive his dream. This is how I interpret the film.

What the film said

The film gives us a simple and straight forward idea of happiness: have a dream, and then do everything you can to archive it. You have to trust yourself when someone teasing you. You have to be strong when facing sadness. You have to stand up again when you hit by failure. You have to pay inestimable effort. When you pass through all the difficulties and archive what you dreamed, you will get the happiness. This is true, and I strongly agree with that. Success of archive a target can bring you happiness, especially if you suffer a lot in the process.

What the film didn’t said (or hided)

Meanwhile, I also feel that the film hided other kinds of happiness. At the ending of the film, it said only the short moment he would call it “happy”. But is that true? I believe there should be also other kinds of happiness, and even the film actually shows us. One greatest example is Gardner playing with Christopher on the beach. We can feel his happiness of being with his son, enjoying the family time. There are also countless scenes that we can see Gardner’s happiness from his son. So, I do not agree with the voice-over that the moment of being hired is the only short moment of happiness. Also, this let me feel that the film is suppressing other kinds of happiness, to emphasize the happiness of success.

From the point of view of cultural difference

The point that the movie emphasize success and dream reminds me about the cultural difference of east and west. As a Chinese, our culture emphasize more on “respect and enjoy your profession” and “one who is contented is always happy”, that is about finding happiness in our current living condition. But in my understanding of American culture, they emphasize more on opportunities and dreams, that is about striving for a better living condition. This difference may be seen on The Pursuit of Happyness, that as a American film, it emphasize a lot on dream, but suppressing other kinds of happiness. This point of view may be quite objective, so leave comment if you have any thoughts.

Just a few more words…

Well, it’s hard to say I like this film or not. I do like the way it present the idea of happiness through success and archiving one’s dream, but I do not agree that it is appropriate to suppress other kinds of happiness. So, what do you think?

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