Oleanna (1994)

Not Rated   |    |  Drama, Thriller


Oleanna (1994) Poster

When a student visits her professor to discuss how she failed his course, the discussion takes an awkward turn.


6.7/10
2,849

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  • William H. Macy and Debra Eisenstadt in Oleanna (1994)
  • William H. Macy and Debra Eisenstadt in Oleanna (1994)
  • William H. Macy in Oleanna (1994)
  • William H. Macy and Debra Eisenstadt in Oleanna (1994)
  • William H. Macy and Debra Eisenstadt in Oleanna (1994)
  • Debra Eisenstadt in Oleanna (1994)

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User Reviews


20 August 2007 | oowawa
10
| Oleanna: the sham promised land behind Academia?
One writer perceptively suggests that the term "Oleanna" was used to describe swampland being sold as prime real estate.

I think the primary context in which the title "Oleanna" is to be understood appears in a "folk" stanza preceding Mamet's published edition of the play:

"Oh to be in 'Oleanna,'/ That's where I would rather be,/ Than be bound in Norway/ And drag the chains of slavery."

And so, Oleanna is a version of a Utopian promised land, and in the context of the play, the gateway to this better tomorrow is through the halls of Academia. Susan, the victim of her own false expectations of how the university is to transform her existence, repeatedly mentions the struggle she had to endure in order to get into college. For her, academic success is central to her vision of a better life. John, the pedantic professor, also sees Academia as the means to a comfortable, upper middle class existence with his new house, wife, and son. All he needs to do is make tenure, and his future is secured.

However, John presents himself as an academic bad-boy who debunks the very Academia with which he is trying to secure his comfortable future. This ridicule of the academic process strikes at the heart of Carol's dreams of a better future through education. She quite rightly sees that the professor is trying to have it both ways--playing the academic outsider while trying to kiss-up to the tenure committee in order to ensure his cushy new home in the suburbs. When someone's dreams are threatened, they become angry and strike out, however they can.

This is a brilliant movie. Anyone working in a high school or university, and anyone contemplating an academic career, needs to watch it, and allow it to soak deep into the structure of the brain. Perhaps that academic career isn't such a good idea, after all. Maybe that utopian real estate is really swampland. At any rate, one needs to be very, very careful when dealing with students.

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Did You Know?

Trivia

Actress and musician Rebecca Pidgeon, the wife of the film's writer-director David Mamet, was the film's music composer of its music score.


Quotes

John: Get out of my office!
John: Get out! Get the fuck out of my office!
Carol: I'm leaving. And don't call your wife "Baby"!


Goofs

When Carol leaves John's office after their second meeting, shouting "Help!", the shadow of the camera covers the door.


Crazy Credits

The "school song" (written by Mamet) played during the credits is sung by Mamet's wife, Rebecca Pidgeon who first performed the role of Carol on stage.


Alternate Versions

There is a version of the movie circulating in Australia, in a series of videos along with other David Mamet films including "A Life in the Theater". This particular copy of the film is timecoded. In that version, after Carol tells John not to call his wife "baby," (thus sending him into a torrent of rage), and he slaps her arm and grabs her, screaming a sexual expletive and raising a chair above her head, the door to the hallway swings open and a number of people stand in the hallway, observing the fight and thus hopelessly damning John. In the version now appearing on The Sundance Channel (10/05), the expletive is unchanged but he never lifts the chair and the door never opens; aside from a final exterior shot of the school, the film ends with Carol (Eisenstadt) having collapsed on the floor of John's office, and John sitting in his chair, his head buried in his hands.


Soundtracks

Long Ago And Far Away
Words by
David Mamet
Music by Rebecca Pidgeon
Soloist: Steve Goldstein (as Steven Goldstein)
© Copyright 1994 Dwight Street Music

Storyline

Plot Summary


Genres

Drama | Thriller

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