Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Handout: Oleanna

Film: Oleanna (1994)

Set at a New England college, starring William H. Macy as the college professor, John, and Debra Eisenstadt as his student, Carol. The play and screenplay are by David Mamet.

Q: Why is the title Oleanna?
A: Taken from this review ((http://movie-reviews.colossus.net/movies/o/oleanna.html):

As titles go, this one is rather obscure. Oleanna refers to a folk story about how a man (named Ole) and his wife (Anna) bought acres of swampland then sold it as farmland to those who were willing to invest their lives' savings. Once the money had been collected, the pair vanished and the buyers were left with worthless property. This became known as the "Oleanna swindle." For Mamet, higher education may be today's "Oleanna swindle."

Questions to Consider…think of your own to discuss too!

1 Comment upon the setting of the film, given what we have already discussed in this class.

2 How do the characters change in the course of the film?

3 Which, if either, character do you find most sympathetic?

4 How would you have conducted yourself if you had been in Carol’s position? In John’s position?

5 Why does John consider higher education a “ritual” and a “fashionable necessity”? Why does he query whether higher education is an “unassailable good”?

6 Are Carol’s complaints warranted?

7 Comment upon the following issues in relation to the film: The tenure system; Academic freedom; The power and prerogative of professors; Student rights; Political correctness.

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