Violation “VIOLATION” is the first thing seen when watching the screen, setting the theme right off the bat for the movie “Cool Hand Luke”. Lukas Jackson, a man introduced to us by cutting the heads off parking meters, is sent to a chain gang for two years as punishment. After watching the film, and reading the reviews, it is obvious that there are several pertinent ideas that characterize the film’s central theme-Luke’s question of his faith, his keen smile that tells all, how he is neither a hero or an anti hero, and how ironically he is a Christ like figure himself.
From the very first minute in the movie, Luke has already introduced us to his famous smile. “The man grins foolishly and lifts a bottle in salute” (Champlin 3). This small grin, sets up the tone for the rest of the movie. A grin so powerful, that even after his defeat it continues to shine through, “In the end, Luke is martyred in a church after a final run for freedom, but his everlasting spirit is invoked by Kennedy’s recollection of “that ole’ Luke smile” and montage of Newman grinning from here to eternity” (Pevere 1).
Who ever thought something as small as a smile would be so telling about a character? Well this portrayal of Luke smile certainly answered that question. While watching the film, the thought of Jesus Christ becomes repetitive. From the scene where Luke is eating all the rice resembling the last supper, till the end where his photograph is crinkled in the shape of a cross, Jesus Christ is a definite aspect for theme. “Small wonder so many folks saw a blue-eyed Jesus in the role” (Pevere 1). It is a small wonder-isn’t it? How ironically the rebel of the film resembles Jesus Christ himself. Then too, after the station wagon bearing the dying Newman drives off into the rainy night, a dramatic point at which to have ended the film, there is a postlude establishing partly with flashbacks that Newman has Christ-like become a convict legend” (Champlin 4). Regardless of his rebel-like character, Luke had-in his own way, become Christ-like. How ironic. After watching the film, many reviewers pinned look as the hero; while others pinned him as the anti-hero. Luke didn’t want the responsibility of being either of those titles.
Champlin states, “ It is about the relationship of one man to many, when that man is neither a would be hero, nor a would be anti-hero. ” Completely agree with this statement because Luke wasn’t trying to impress anyone, everything he did was a self-willed act of selfishness. In Peveres article, he quotes Kauffmann on his thoughts, “His escapes are self-willed escapades, not acts of heroism. And he get’s himself killed out of stubborn cussedness, not for any cause or practical reason. “ Pevere labels this statement by Kauffmann the most cogent critical appreciation.
Either way, Luke was never a hero, nor an anti-hero. He was just Luke. Not only was Luke seen as a Christ-like figure, he was also seen for his struggle with his own faith. He struggles throughout the movie to understand where he stands with God. Champlin adds, “ after a beautifully laconic, understated performance whose “Yeah, well” was more eloquent than pages, the speech struck me as stagey and redundant. ” This statement explains a lot because all Luke had to say to make it clear he was struggling was his “yeah, well” when he was in the church.
Creekmore states something he heard the author said about the film,” He has said that his novel is probably a parable about man and his relationship to God” This gives the idea that Luke struggles with God, some roots, because even the author himself said it. The reviewers have presented several central ideas; Luke struggles to understand his faith, his keen smile that tells all, how ironically he rises as the Christ figure, and how everybody- even convicts need their hero’s.
Lukas Jackson neither tried nor wanted to be any kind of hero or anti-hero. He might have los a lot of battles, but one thing no one could ever take away from him-he will inevitably live on forever. Works Cited Champlin, Charles. “Cool Hand Luke, “Simple Tale With Truths to Tell. ” Los Angeles Times 30. October 1967:1-2 Print Creekmore, Hubert. “Everyman In Chains. ” New York Times 18 September 1965: 1-2 Print Pevere, Geoff. “Rebel hero captured restless spirit of an era” The star. com 18 March 2007: 1-2 Web