Undergraduate Honors Theses

Title

Fathers, Sons, Priests, and Politicians: Navigating the Ills of Modern American Society Through the Allegories of Martin Scorsese's The Departed

Thesis Defended

Spring 2013

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Film Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Melinda Barlow

Abstract

This thesis is an examination of the father-son allegory in Martin Scorsese’s The Departed (2006). As an allegory, it addresses various social and political crises occurring in the years leading up to production, including: the terrorist attacks of September 11th 2001, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Hurricane Katrina, and the numerous molestation scandals related to the Catholic Church. Following Susan Jeffords’ argument, this thesis relates the father son allegory to the cultural mood surrounding the political and religious leaders associated with the various social crises of the time. The Departed exemplifies a trend in Hollywood cinema at the time that embraced this father son trope as a means to discuss the national climate; these films include Catch Me If You Can (2002), Road to Perdition (2002), Big Fish (2003), Finding Nemo (2003), Mystic River (2003), Broken Flowers (2005), The Squid and The Whale (2005), The Pursuit of Happyness (2006), No Country For Old Men (2007), There Will Be Blood (2007), Doubt (2008), Crazy Heart (2009), The Road (2009), UP (2009), World’s Greatest Dad (2009), Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010). This thesis incorporates both cinematic and sociopolitical history in order to better interpret The Departed, specifically citing Susan Jeffords’ “Fathers and Sons: Continuity and Revolution in the Reagan Years” from her book Hard Bodies: Hollywood Masculinity in the Reagan Era (1993).

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