Peter Appleton (Carrey) is an ambitious and vain B-grade screenwriter for a
Hollywood studio in the 1950s. Like most of the Hollywood establishment in
this period he comes under scrutiny for his communist loyalties. A less likely communist we would never meet. Rather than appear before the Un-American Activities Inquiry, Appleton flees LA and on the way out of town has a car accident, suffers amnesia and is rescued from drowning by a kindly local who takes him home. Appleton is recognised by the local townsfolk as Harry Trimble's (Landau) son who went missing in action during WWII. Harry owns the local movie palace, The Majestic, and is convinced that Luke has come back from the dead.
Director Frank Darabont's has had great successes with The Shawshank
Redemption and The Green Mile. He makes films with strong moral messages. The stories in these other films are more substantial than The Majestic, but this latest film asks some equally important questions in a very
Driven by fear, the House Un-American Activities Commission was a dark
chapter in US history, curtailing freedoms of the press, association and
expression for nearly a decade. An allegation became a conviction. Film and television media were scapegoated for all of society's ills and the truth never got in the road of the zealot's work. We can easily see why Darabont thinks it's time to revisit these issues today.
The Majestic is not, however, just a history lesson. It is in part celebration of the golden years of Hollywood, part commemoration of the loss of young men who never came back from the war and part commentary on how desperate people, in all walks of life, believe what they need to, so they can carry on.
The Majestic is cleverly constructed as if in B-grade film style except the acting is first rate, with Carrey and Landau giving performances of depth. The production values are top-class and the values are ones on which we all ponder. We still see truth and freedom sacrificed by people who should know
The film is way too long and the ending is a bit schmaltzy for Australian tastes, but that doesn't take away the overall magic of The Majestic. A good family film.
Richard Leonard SJ