Sweet Home Alabama

Subject: Art
Type: Exploratory Essay
Pages: 7
Word count: 2195
Topics: Film Analysis, Divorce, Film Review, Marriage, Social Issues

Film study involves the critical analysis of cinemas or movies by looking at the key elements of the genre, themes, the plot, and other techniques of movie production. Film study also entails learning skills of art production and on how they can be used to pass useful information to society. Usually, musicians and movie directors find it easier to teach the society about the current issues which are trending in the society as well as those which affect the ordinary citizen of any given country. Actually, the film industry does not only help to rectify some unwanted behaviors among the people in the society but it also helps to build people’s characters. For instance, there are movies whose content is about ethical morals hence when people watch them they gain ethical behaviors which modify their character. The paper will give an analysis of a movie known as Sweet Home Alabama. The analysis will involve the discussion of the contextual information, story or plot, aesthetic choices, social impact as well as the reflection of the movie at individual level.

Contextual Information

The title of the movie at stake is Sweet Home Alabama. The director of this movie is known as Andy Tennant and he is the one who was responsible for the creative decisions of the movie. During the production of Sweet Home Alabama, Andy selected actors according to their personal vision and skills. Therefore, the plot of the movie was Andy’s creative work. Moreover, the cinematographer of the movie at hand is known as Andrew Dunn and he is the one who was in charge of shooting the movie. Dunn’s contributions to the movie were basically color selection, determination of the shooting angles, and evoking emotions such as humor, fear, and delight in the movie. Moreover, the major actors of the movie are Melanie Smooter who acts as a newly wife of Andrew though she was married to Jake, Andrew Hennings who acts as Melanie’s current husband, Earl Smooter who plays the role of being a father to Melanie, and Jake Perry who was the earlier husband and a childhood friend of Melanie. Furthermore, the movie Sweet Home Alabama was released on September 27, 2002 (Palmer, 2011). The genre of the movie is a romantic comedy film. Moreover, the type of the movie is blockbuster since blockbuster has been an American movie producing firm for a long time.

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Story or Plot

The movie opens on a beach known as Alabama by featuring two children namely Jake Perry and Melanie Smooter. Jake had brought Melanie out in order to demonstrate to her the glass molds that are formed when lightning strikes the sand but they ended up also discussing their future as married couples (Na Lu, 2016). At the present, Andrew wanted Melanie to marry her but she seemed to be reluctant to accept the marriage proposal. But after Andrew taking her to a rings’ shop, Melanie became surprised at the way the shop was arranged with different types of rings. After accepting to marry Andrew, Melanie decided to go to Jake in order to present to him divorce documents but Jake refused to sign the papers.  From Jake’s residence, Melanie went to her parents to tell them about her engagement plans as well as to discuss with them her divorce with Jake. Later on, Melanie decided to change the last pet part of her name to Carmichael which related her to a rich local family as a way of hiding her poor Southern origin.

Additionally, Melanie decided to empty her bank account upon learning that the account was still bearing her name. This incident resulted in Jake’s signing of the divorce papers the following day. Melanie then followed Jake to a local bar where she embarrassed herself in the presence of her childhood friends after getting drunk. Melanie later visited Bobby Ray in his plantations in order to apologize to him in regard to her engagement decisions. She later found out that Jake had followed her to New York in order to win her heart. Moreover, Andrew also decided to go to Carmichael plantation where he met with Jake and Melanie’s father. Andrew then realized that Melanie had lied to him about her father when he found out that her father’s name was Earl Smooter. Later the wedding between Melanie and Andrew was canceled because Melanie had not signed the divorce papers by herself and this made Melanie return to Jake. They are then taken to Jake’s mother by Sheriff Wade where they engage in a dance as a wife and husband (Na Lu, 2016).

The plot of this movie has been arranged in a systematic way throughout the film since the movie has a series of events which are aligned in such a way that one event leads to the other thus enhancing the flow of thoughts throughout the movie. Moreover, the difference between the film’s story and the plot is that the film story contains more events which are not all covered in the plot. Actually, the plot gives the film’s story in a brief summary hence illuminating the whole story in a short version. Furthermore, the reason as to why people should watch this movie is that the movie reveals how society views marriage and the impact of divorce on the people in general.

Aesthetic Choices

‘Mise-en-scene’ is a term which used to refer to visual styles in film production (Gibbs, 2002). Some of the visual styles include lightning, sounds, and costuming. Lightning has been used in Sweet Home Alabama in order to enhance the clarity of images. Also, the usage of light in movies creates an impression of reality since films usually introduce visual schemes to suggest that the light came from certain sources. Moreover sounds help to make the film lively hence putting the audience in the moods of different scenes. For instance, in the movie, there is the usage of hard sound between Melanie and Jake and this helps to put the audience in the mood of quarreling conflict. On the other hand, costumes have been used to create a picture of an American culture which can be depicted from Melanie and Andrew’s mode of dressing (Gibbs, 2002).

Moreover, editing entails the rearranging of video shots in order to create the flow as well as remove the unwanted parts of video shooting. Several cuts and the transition have been used in the video clip at stake in order to enhance a continuous flow of the plot. In addition, several angles were used during the shooting of this movie in order to promote a full view of every event and characters in the movie. Therefore, editing was effective in this movie because it helped to add some graphics, pace, and the flow of the movie. Additionally, technology has contributed to the effectiveness of the required movie. For example, the graphics which have been used in the video indicate that the devices such as cameras which were used to shoot the video were of high quality. This is evident from the clarity of images of characters and their surroundings. Technological advancement has contributed to the improvement which is seen in film production since nowadays movies are produced through high-quality film stock. In earlier years, the insensitive microphones were used in film production but with the advancement of technology nowadays the sound quality is high hence the satisfaction of the audience (Piccirillo, 2011).

Social/Personal impact

The movie Sweet Home Alabama pictures the culture of two regions, New York City, and the Southern region. The movie places the two cultures in a conflict since the video centers itself on New York culture which later becomes rejected by Melanie who goes for the Southern culture which is centered on family affairs (Palmer, 2011). Moreover, the movie featured the Southern culture as being static since Melanie’s childhood friends were still the same. Also, the society is affected negatively since the movie is about the theme of divorce between Melanie and Jake hence this can influence people more especially other women who are not in good terms with their husbands to seek a divorce.

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In the society, it is good for a woman to be married to only one man since this will help to reduce the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Divorce is considered to be a menace which has affected many families in different cultural dynamics (Palmer, 2011). The movie also reveals the struggle for resources between Southern culture and Northern culture. For instance, Melanie moved to the North in order to look for a good job which made her land on a job of fashion designing hence she was able to earn a living by herself. In addition, the movie reveals the gap which exists between family members. For instance, Melanie had stayed in the North for seven years without visiting her parents (Na Lu, 2016). Society is made of families hence family members are supposed to stay close to one another in order to build family love. Personally, the movie has affected my thoughts since the reason for Melanie divorcing Jake is not clear to me. Moreover, the movie has impacted my life in a positive way since it has led to my conclusion that married couples should stick together in whatever the circumstances which they may fall in. Also, the movie has contributed to my change of thoughts since I have learned from the movie that people should be calm, sensitive, and caring just like Jake during hardship moments of life.


There are many things which can be gained from film analysis. Firstly, film analysis has helped me to gain an understanding of the essence of different aesthetic choices in the movie. For example, the importance of colors, costumes, lighting, and editing in a movie. Initially, I did not know whether all these things played a significant role in movie production. Also, film analysis has contributed to my understanding of how I can determine the theme and the framework of the movie. Additionally, movie analysis has cultivated my deep understanding of various events which take place in a movie. Movie analysis has helped me change the way in which I was initially viewing the movies whereby I was watching just for fun and entertainment. Nowadays, I can critically analyze as well as determine the impression of different lightning in any movie. Also, movie analysis has helped me to develop a habit of relating the scenes in a movie to the real-life situation thus transforming the way I view things in the surrounding.

Film theory and criticism have greatly helped me to interpret meaning in movies. For example, formalist theory reveals more about the structure and form of the movie. This theory gives an analysis of narrative elements and techniques such as the setting, characters, editing, and different sounds which have been used in a film. Therefore, by determining the effect of the elements in a video, I am able to arrive at the meaning of the movie. In addition, the study of film analysis has contributed to my understanding of society. Usually, movies try to reveal the current issues in the society, thus by analyzing the scenes of the movie I am able to extract the message of the movie and then reflect it to the society. Also, this course has improved my thinking capacity since film analysis has helped me to view society in another perspective other than the ways I was originally viewing it. The skills which I have developed from this course are analytical skill, active listening, editing skill as well as critical and creative thinking. As a movie designer, the skills will help me to develop high-quality films in the future.

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In summary, the movie Sweet Home Alabama is about the theme of divorce and marriage. The main actors depicted in the movie are Melanie Smooter, Andrew Hennings, and Jake Perry, and Earl Smooter. Melanie has been portrayed as a woman who desires for a better life and that is why she wanted to marry Andrew. But later on, Melanie changed her decision about divorce and decided to marry Jake, her original husband. Also, there are different techniques which have been used in the movie at stake in order to enhance its continuity. Some of those techniques include lighting, costumes, editing, sounds, and shot angles. The movie also tries to reveal a conflict between Southern and Northern culture. This later leads to the rejection of the Northern culture when Melanie decides to marry Jake. Generally, the movie Sweet Home Alabama addresses divorce and culture and how they affect the society as a whole.

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  1. Gibbs, J. (2002). Mise-en-scene: Film style and interpretation. London: Wallflower Press.
  2. Na Lu. (2016, December 4). Sweet home Alabama- Reese Witherspoon, Patrick Dempsey.
  3. Palmer, L. (2011). Gender, regional identity, and the civil war: Politics of the North and South in Sweet Home Alabama and Junebug. In A. B. Leiter (Ed.), Southerners on film: Essays on
  4. Hollywood portrayals since the 1970s (pp. 89-105). Jefferson: McFarland & Company, Inc.
  5. Piccirillo, R. (2011). The technological evolution of filmmaking and its relation to quality in cinema. Inquiries Journal, 3(8), pp.1-2.
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