Representing Institutional Evil
- Three Kings (1999)
- The war machine grinds on after the war has ended.
Kuwait may have been freed, but Iraqi rebels are tortured and killed,
depending upon an American army which pulls out, having accomplished its
- Summer of Sam
- The scene where Spike
Lee interviews the folks in the black community for "the darker
perspective" on the horror of the killings. The Son-of-Sam killings
are only news because they are happening in the white neighborhoods.
Similar events happen in the black neighborhoods all of the time, but
they are "not news".
Green Mile (1999)
- Percy as the Personification of Institutional Evil. (see review
at Hollywood Jesus)
- The Confession (1999)
- The conspiracy about the water - political "buying
of others" - joy over others' misfortunes. (DVD ch 5)
- The death of Stevie because of institutional
malpractice, not individual immorality.
- The Messenger: The Story of Joan of
- Joan is shocked to see the bloodshed her leadership has
caused. (Dennis L. Zimmerman)
- Instinct (1999)
- Institutional evil portrayed by "society" - the
prison officials and guards, the "card game", those who hunt
the gorillas, Ethan Powell's former participation in a lifestyle that
hurt his family, Calder's unexamined participation in society.
- Three Kings (1999)
- Amistad (1997)
- slavery/slave trade in
- Devil's Advocate (1997)
- Professional oaths are used as a substitute for moral
- Dead Man Walking (1995)
- An interesting exploration of the relationship between
corporate and individual sin and evil.
- Shawshank Redemption
- Cruelty of guards and of
other prisoners as institutional evil within corrupt system.
- Natural Born Killers
- Prison system, abusive family cycles, media
glorification of violence, environmental violence are all described as
contributing to the level of violence in our society.
- Quiz Show (1994)
- Conversation between Goodwin and Geritol Sponsor:
"Who does it hurt?" Lies at congressional committee hearing.
(DVD chapter 24)
- "The Government" as symbol for institutional
evil. The first concern is to cover up the plague (sin/evil), not to
attempt to save folks from it. (DVD part 1, chapter 4)
- Schindler's List (1993)
- Holocaust, war, and
Schindler's initial participation in them presented as institutional
- At the River I Stand
1300 sanitation workers formed the lowest caste of a deeply racist
society, earning so little they qualified for welfare. In the film,
retired workers recall the fear as they took on the entire white power
structure when they struck for higher wages and union recognition...At
the River I Stand succeeds in showing that the causes (and possibly
the solutions) to our present racial quandary may well be found in what
happened in Memphis. Its riveting portrait of the grit and determination
of ordinary people will inspire viewers to rededicate themselves to
racial and economic justice." (California Newsreel Official
Poet's Society (1989)
- Symbolized by the
uniformity of the school and by Neil's father's insistence that his son
go to medical school.
- Ward: "He was
guilty. Anyone's guilty who watches it happen and does nothing. He was
guilty. Maybe we all are."
- The Milagro Beanfield
- The developers bent on turning everything into a
- Robocop (1987)
- Technology and Corporate Evil. Ed209 is the robot that
doesn't work but makes money for the developers. (Writer of Robocop
understands this as a symbol of the American attitude in Vietnam brought
to the urban situation. Names one of the scientists "MacNamara".
- Verhoeven says in DVD commentary that he has RoboCop
walk on water to emphasize the parallel with Jesus. Verhoeven is trying
to make a comment about institutional religion - people who kill others
in the name of Christ and in the name of their faith have somehow
perverted God's/Christ's intention. He chuckles that he may not have
accomplished what he intended.
- The Wall - Pink Floyd (1982)
- "All we are is just another brick in the
- Norma Rae (1979)
- One Flew Over the Cuckoo's
- Nurse Ratched as the embodiment of the evil
inherent in The Establishment, robbing others of humanity by their
- The Poseidon Adventure
- The representative of the the worn-out ship's owner
insists on running the ship "full steam ahead" even though the
ship needs to take on more ballast if it is to survive any kind of storm
- On the Waterfront
- The Grapes of Wrath
- Tom Joad: If there was a law, they was
workin' with maybe we could take it, but it ain't the law. They're
workin' away our spirits, tryin' to make us cringe and crawl, takin'
away our decency.
Index of Movie Titles
Index of Movie Themes