| Juno: Film Essay
DESCRIBE AT LEAST ONE IDEA YOU THOUGHT WAS IMPORTANT IN THE TEXT. EXPLAIN HOW VISUAL/ORAL FEATURES THAT WERE USED SHOW YOU THE IDEA.
An important idea in the film Juno directed by Jason Reitman, is the idea that all of our choices will have consequences. This idea is shown in many ways throughout the film. For example, Juno’s choice to have un-protected sex, her choice not to abort her baby, and the choice to carry out an adoption even though her plans didn’t turn out the way they had expected, all had following consequences.
The protagonist of the film is 16-year-old, Juno MacGuff. Juno has to face the dilemmas of an unexpected pregnancy. She finds what seems to be the perfect adoption couple, but when her adoption plans take a turn for disaster, Juno must dig herself out of her sticky situation and do what’s best for her baby.
At the start of the film, Juno decides to have unprotected sex with her close friend, Paulie Bleeker. Her choice to have un-protected sex is a choice she hasn’t taken into a whole lot of consideration, consequently leading Juno to becoming pregnant.
The mise-en-scene at the start of the film shows us how Juno now feels about her pregnancy. Juno stands across from the armchair Bleeker and she had sex on, while a voice over says, ‘It started with a chair.’ The armchair seems much larger than Juno even though they are about the same size. The chair represents Juno’s sudden pregnancy, something dominant, something overwhelming her. Juno looks small in comparison to the chair, showing us that she feels small, insignificant and weak.
New Zealand has a shocking teen pregnancy rate, with 3,800 babies born to teens throughout the country every year. Teenagers who have sex without using protection may not expect to end up with a pregnancy, because they naively believe that the chances of a pregnancy are too slim for it to happen to them. When a teen becomes pregnant they can be left in a position of helplessness because they were never prepared to deal with a baby. This is the consequence of not being careful enough and not protecting yourself when having sex, something that Juno has to deal with.
Juno plans to quickly get rid of the baby by arranging an abortion. Juno goes to the clinic where she meets a Soo-Chin, fellow classmate, who is holding an anti abortion sign in the clinic car park. Soo-Chin tells Juno that her baby is well alive inside of her, and has even grown fingernails. Juno finds this interesting, but continues into the clinic. She waits for her appointment inside, but as she is waiting, the reality that her baby is in-fact alive inside her scares Juno into canceling her abortion.
This is shown by the added foley sound effect of people’s fingernails inside the clinic. As Juno waits she hears the sounds of people’s fingernails drumming, filing and scratching reminding her that her own baby already has fingernails. The sound of the fingernails starts to resemble a pulse, making Juno feel uncomfortable and nervous, causing her to run out of the clinic. Juno later arranges a closed adoption instead of an abortion.
Many pregnant teens who choose not to abort do so because they do not want to cause pain to the baby living inside of them. This choice means that they have to carry on with the pregnancy at their tender age. They later keep the baby or adopt out likewise to Juno.
Juno chooses a couple, Mark and Vanessa, who seem like the perfect parents for Juno’s child, and so Juno arranges a closed adoption. But nearing the end of Juno’s pregnancy, she discovers that Mark plans on leaving Vanessa, throwing all of Juno’s adoption plans away. Juno becomes distraught; but even without Mark in the picture, Juno realizes that Vanessa is dedicated enough to love and care for the baby. This is shown to us by the technique of the bird’s-eye view, when Juno and her friend are at the mall, and spot Vanessa. Juno looks down at her from above, almost as if she was assessing her, and sees that Vanessa naturally has a way with children. Juno writes a note to Vanessa saying that she is still up for the adoption if Vanessa is too.
We see that the carefully thought out choice that Juno makes turns out positively, as Vanessa gets the child that she’s always wanted, and Juno’s life settles again.
The use of set shows us that the dilemma has concluded, as we see a rocking chair, with a voiceover that says ‘It ended with a chair.’ Vanessa’s room is cluttered and her clothing is very casual, showing that she has finally let go of her proper, uptight self. The mise-en-scene of the very final scene also shows us that Juno’s choice resulted well, as Juno and Bleeker are seated opposite each other. They are in complete symmetry and are of equal size, showing us that they are both in harmony and all is well.
Adoption is a process growing in popularity in today’s society. It can be very convenient for both sides of the adoption. People who desperately want their own children and cannot have any can adopt someone else’s child, giving the child a nurturing home that the child probably wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. The biological parent of the adopted child is probably unable to provide a nurturing home for the child, or not at an age where parenting is an option. So the choice of adoption becomes convenient for them, knowing that their child will go to someone else who will love them and will be able to take very good care of them.
Many techniques help build up the important idea that all of our actions will have consequences. We see that sometimes, spontaneous choices can lead to unexpected, negative results, such as Juno’s pregnancy. We see that sometimes, our gut feeling or instinct can change our choices, like when Juno decides not to abort her baby. Juno also shows us that choices that are thought out will usually turn out for the better, an example we see from the ending of the film. Because the teen pregnancy rate in New Zealand is one of the highest in the world, Juno is an easily relatable film for teenagers in our country, who may even learn a thing or two from watching Juno’s situation play out before us. This is why the film Juno is such a successful and charming watch.
Great – apart from a couple of inaccuracies and a suggestion or two that I have made in-text, this is definitely working towards Excellence level.