The Manchurian Candidate: Film Analysis

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1The McCarthy Era was a period of the Cold War when fear of communism in America was at an all-time high. These tensions were exacerbated by the man this era is named for, Senator Joseph McCarthy. Senator McCarthy was known for throwing around unsubstantiated claims related to communists in the government and this only intensified the fear of communism for ordinary Americans. This panic led to Americans looking for someone to blame. One group that came under heavy fire were women, more specifically mothers. The belief was that bad mothers exposed their children making them significantly more susceptible to the threat of communism. In Philip Wylie’s book “Generation of Vipers”, he wrote an entire chapter entitled “Common Women” that addressed the threats of ambitious women and unfit mothers. Hollywood also brought public attention to these threats in several films, one of the most well known of these films is The Manchurian Candidate. 1The Manchurian Candidate focused on the public’s fear of communists brainwashing Americans. The film played upon the fear that anyone could be a communist spy and maybe not even know it. In the case of the film, Sergeant Raymond Shaw and his platoon are captured and brainwashed as part of a communist plot to infiltrate…show more content…
Eleanor’s control over Raymond and ability to force him to work against his own self-interests is something that had been going on long before Raymond ever left for war. During the presentation Dr. Yen Lo talks about how one of the issues with brainwashing is that the subject “won’t behave in a manner that goes against his self-interests or is in moral opposition to his beliefs”, this is then followed by Raymond executing two members of his platoon. Raymond’s actions indicate that due to his mother's conditioning earlier in life, he is much more susceptible to brainwashing and more willing to do things that he would never do

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