“We are standing here in Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love, the birthplace of freedom, where the founding fathers authored the Declaration of Independence, and I don’t recall that glorious document saying anything about all straight men are created equal. I believe it says all men are created equal”- Dialogue from the movie, Philadelphia by the character Joe Miller (Denzel Washington)
One of the most memorable dialogues that comprehends the essence of one of the finest movies from Hollywood! The story of a man who want to fight against odds! He was a human being like us but his sexual orientation was not straight. Also, he was an AIDS Patient. It is his story to fight for his cause to lead the life of a normal human being with all dignity! In the celluloid, we have the powerhouse performance of Tom Hanksand Denzel Washington!Need more reasons to catch hold of the DVD?
Real Life Story –There was a young lawyer hired by Baker and McKinzie (international law firm) in the capacity of litigation associate. The young man was having skin lesions and later diagnosed with AIDS. He was a gay. His employer fired him. Newyork State Division of Human Rights decided to take up his case alleging discrimination. The young man died within two months after the trial started. After six years, the court ordered compensation of $500,000 in his favour. This is the real life story of Geoffrey Bowers.B & M decided to go for appeal but finally entered into a secret settlement Bowers’s family.
This story inspired the reel life story of Philadelphia. Lateron, Bowers’s family sued the film makers also!
Back to Reel Life –We have Andrew Becket (Tom Hanks) working for a top corporate law firm and was living with his gay partner Miguel Alvarez (Banderas).Becket was coming up with flying colours but all of sudden got lesion in his forehead and subsequently diagnosed with AIDS that lead to termination of his services. He is aware about his deteriorating health condition and hence thought of approaching another counsel to file a case against discrimination. He was turned down by many and finally he approached Joe Miller (Denzel Washington).
Joe was having “Homophobia” (fear against / aversion to Homosexuals) and hence was apprehensive about taking up his case. Still, being a man guided by reason, he voluntarily takes up the case and fight for his cause.
Rest of the movie is having excellent court scenes where in Joe was trying to break the myths about Homo sexuality, AIDS, revealing the secret practice of apartheid among white —– It was a fight for humankind.
Tom Hanks– delivered a soul stirring performance! No wonder, this is one of his finest screen performance. The hardcore man with obvious body language of gay – he did a wonderful balancing act. Never a time, it became funny. At the later stage, his words, deeds and actions were reflecting miseries and agony but at the same time exhibit “never say die” attitude. His first meeting with Joe Miller was one of the most memorable scenes of the movie. When Joe was not sure of taking his cause, just with a wink he expressed the helplessness of a man in pain!
Also, in the court scene when he shares his penchant towards law as “you get to be a part of justice being done. That really is quite a thrill when that happens”.This dialogue can be used as the anthem of any lawyer you fight for righteous cause!
This performance was rewarded him with Academy Award for Best Actor! It is worth noticing that the very next year also, he got the same award for “Forrest Gump”
Denzel Washington –The flamboyant lawyer’s transformation from being a Homophobic to a rationalist is worth watching. Even if, he decided to fight for Becket, heart in heart he got his aversion towards Homo sexuality. Still, when it comes to justice, he will give secondary preference to his personal likes and dislikes. Enigmatic screen presence during the court scenes was worth watching! The dialogues like “Are you a Homo? Are you a queer? Are you a faggot? Are you a fruit? Are you gay, sir? ” etc. was done with utmost perfection to exhibit the passion and aggression of the lawyer!
The story is scripted by Ron Nyswanerwho is also a gay! No wonder, he the script didnot turn out to be a mockery over sexual orientation.
Call Fullerton and Alan D’Angerio– did wondeful job with with make – up. Especially Becket’s transformation from a cheerful lawyer to an AIDS patient is captured without any flaws!
Jonathan Demme – The celebrity director (After directing Oscar Winning ’’Silence of the Lambs’’) set another benchmark in the history of hollywood. He could get the best out of the crew. We shall not forget the fact that this sensitive subject was featured before sixteen years when Homosexuality / aids etc. were not discussed with open mind. He was a director ahead of time and the relevance of the movie transcends the handicaps of time and space. Nowhere, the movie is turned out to be sentimental or opinionated which is worth noticing! It has got not dramatic twists and turns but still quite engaging! Also, this movie is an answer to those critics who condemned him as homophobic after the release of ”Silence of the lambs”
The movie inspired several bollywood flicks like ’’Phir Milenge’’. Also, the last scene of ’’Kal Ho Na Ho’’ which was much appreciated (where in SRK is in hospital bed and each and every characters are communicating with him) – is a straight rip off from Philadelphia. No wonder – the best creations will give birth to many duplicates but the space for original will remain unaltered.
When you listen to Bruce Springstene’s song Streets of Philadelphia and notice tears on your cheeks, don’t feel ashamed. It is just a proof of you having a throbbing heart!
If you have not seen this movie, you are missing one of the finest performances of seasoned actors in the history of world cinema. If you have already seen this movie, come on, it’s worth watching again at frequent intervals!