Cool Hand Luke Review
March 7, 2019 at 4:44 pm #1343Valeria GuarnerosParticipant
The protagonist is said to have a “cool hand” several times throughout the film. At first, the meaning of the term may seem confusing, but becomes clear when it’s used in different situations: when Lucas gets into a boxing match with Dragline, he falls and picks himself back up. When he’s playing cards, he raises the stakes, and loses, however, maintaining his “cool.” Lucas keeps fighting when it’s evident that there’s nothing left to fight for. One of the prisoners say, “Luke’s got more guts than brains,” which stands true because most of his actions are impulsive.
In a later scene, Luke tells his fellow prisoners that he can eat 50 eggs within an hour and bets are placed. Ultimately, Luke proved himself, earning the respect of his fellow prisoners. However, after Luke’s mother passes away, it’s debatable whether he upheld his “cool hand” trait when he begins his attempts to escape the prison. Because Luke refuses to face defeat, he continues to persevere. Eventually, Luke is given a warning that he will get killed if he tries to escape again. He doesn’t enable them to control him and once again, does what he wants, even if that means deceiving the captain and boss.
He escapes three times, but neither time is successful. After his third and last attempt, Lucas is surrounded yet again, and he gets shot. Shortly, Luke is seen smiling as he’s being driven off to the hospital. Not long after, a montage appears on the screen of Luke smiling from previous scenes leading up to the event. This presents a feeling of bliss after everything that the protagonist underwent. Although he was shot, he didn’t seem bothered by it. Instead, he embraced his ending. Despite the circumstances he was placed in, he smiled and moved forward. Throughout the film, Luke maintains a strong sense of character. He goes against authority and although he faces consequences as a result of that, he continues to do so until his final moments.
—Valeria GuarnerosMarch 11, 2019 at 1:21 pm #1349Jonathan KalmanParticipant
“Throughout the film, Luke maintains a strong sense of character.” This line really stuck with me after reading your post. Luke knows who he is and no one is going to tell him otherwise. Maybe he has some kind of death wish or PTSD (being a war veteran and all), but regardless of his reasons for being so impulsive, Luke lives his life to the fullest. I know it is ironic to say that given he is a prisoner throughout the movie, but I think the idea rings true. He does what he wants, but doesn’t really seek out harming others in doing so. The one time he does is what lands him in jail (even if that person wasn’t a person and was in fact a gumball machine). I agree that Luke sees his end with peace in his soul, but I’d like to discuss why he does. Having a death wish might make sense, but I see this as something entirely different. This discussion I will leave up to class discussion as I want to hear the thoughts of everyone who won’t be reading this reply.March 11, 2019 at 2:15 pm #1352Brittany PrattParticipant
I agree that one of the most striking aspects of the film is Luke’s impulsive nature and “death wish.” For me personally with the ending, I’m stuck between Valeria’s interpretation and Jonathan’s questioning of “something entirely different.” While I could see that final shot of Luke smiling as him embracing the end, having lived a full life, I keep returning to this idea that, for the first time in a while, Luke was completely in control. He chose to go out this way, rather than face whatever horrible punishment would be waiting for him back at the prison. Throughout his time in prison, Luke was constantly trying to retain his agency and keep control over his life (i.e. the eggs, running away multiple times—these were all things he chose to do of his own free will). In my opinion, Luke’s iconic smile at the end is representative of the fact that he was finally back in the driver’s seat so to speak, and this is the ultimate act of perseverance.March 11, 2019 at 3:02 pm #1353Shaina FifieldParticipant
I agree that Luke was continually a strong character throughout the film. He never gives up, which in turn makes hims seem like he is a person to look up to. I feel that once Luke first entered the prison, he was looked down upon, and he wasn’t respected. However, throughout the film he was able to gain the respect of all of the men that were also in this prison that used to think nothing of him. When looking back they are able to notice that this man, Luke, is a fighter and he will never give up even when given the chance to.March 11, 2019 at 3:12 pm #1354Jenna CoburnParticipant
I completely agree; Luke’s strength of character and “cool hand” is such a driving force of the movie, both in terms of plot and emotional themes. Ironically, I think the scenes that really drive this point home are the scenes where the audience (along with the guards and prisoners) is made to believe that Luke has been broken. The scene in which we see him beg for mercy and the following scene where he caters to “the man with no eyes” were some of the most heartbreaking of the film for me, mainly because we’re forced to watch this strong, cool character broken down by the system we’ve spent the whole movie watching him fight, and inspire others to fight. The sense of relief and wonder that I personally felt when he steals the car was one of the most emotional parts of the movie, for me, because it restored my (and the other characters’) faith in his perseverance.
- You must be logged in to reply to this topic.