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Like Father and Son, from Chaplin to the Beginners
Posted March 01, 2012 to photo album "Like Father and Son, from Chaplin to the Beginners"
Mike Mills poignant portrait of a father and son relationship inspired us to look back at how films from Chaplin to Beginners have handled this paternal subject.
Road to Perdition (2002)
After his satire of family values, American Beauty, Sam Mendes wanted to change direction for his next project and finally landed on the script for Road to Perdition, a dark gangster film set in Al Capone’s Chicago. Far from ironic, the story of Michael Sullivan (Tom Hanks), a hired killer who turns against the mob to save his young son, Michael Sullivan Jr. (Tyler Hoechlin), was mythic in feel and scope. The story was adapted from Max Allan Collins’ graphic novel of the same name, which itself was inspired by the 70s Japanese Manga called Lone Wolf and Cub, about a Shōgun's executioner forced into exile along with his son. The theme of fathers and sons runs deep in this nearly all-male film, with Paul Newman, the mob boss, acting as a surrogate dad. Jude Law, who plays another hit man in the film, explains, “It’s about a father and son finding each other in the most adverse of conditions.” In approaching the script, Hanks told dealmemo.com how he made the 20s gangster plot personal “by looking back at the relationship that I had with my own father, as well as the relationship that I have with my own kids. When I read it, I said to myself: I know what these guys are going through.” The film, which was nominated for six Academy Awards, powerfully imagined the complex emotional world created by father and son. As Stephen Holden wrote in his New York Times review, “In surveying the world through Michael Jr.'s eyes, the movie captures, like no film I've seen, the fear-tinged awe with which young boys regard their fathers and the degree to which that awe continues to reverberate into adult life.”