"It's the sense of touch. In any real city, you walk, you know? You brush past people, people bump into you. In L.A., nobody touches you. We're always behind this metal and glass. I think we miss that touch so much, that we crash into each other, just so we can feel something."
One of the films I have learned to love is Paul Haggis's "Crash" from 2004. This is a film that really works with students. This is the third year I have shown it to my classes, and so far only one of my students has said that he did not like the movie. Several times students have actually come up to me after class, just to tell me how much they liked it.
The plot in "Crash" is quite complicated, and though I have seen the film 7-8 times, I still see new, interesting things in it. We may think that the themes in the film apply to Americans only, being a film set in LA, but I believe this film is quite accurate in describing how afraid we all are of the unknown, how little we know about other cultures, and how quickly we put the people we meet into boxes and categories. Our own feelings and beliefs are challenged here, and I believe most people actually have to admit that we have some prejudices towards people different from ourselves.
What I like about "Crash" is that this film has it all; you laugh, you cry, you scream, you get upset. It is also a film that sparks off interesting discussions in class. Some of the students may not have seen all the connections between the various plots in the film, but they all have something to say. On damaris.org, I have found some questions for discussion which can serve as a starting point for a class discussion on the film. Filmeducation.org also has some questions/discussion topics that work well.
Before watching the film this year, we worked on the topic "Race and ethnicity in the USA" in class. This is a huge topic, and spending only a couple of lessons on the topic as we did this time, does not allow us enough time to really go into the complexity of the US society. I nevertheless find it important for us here in Norway to put focus on this and to stress that the US is so much more than what is presented in the traditional Hollywood-movies.