Movie Evaluation

Synopsis of the Movie

The movie Philadelphia was released 14 January 1994. Themes in the movie revolve around the subject HIV/Aids which was major threat to human generation especially from the last decade until now. Another theme that the movie brings out is discrimination where Becket gets discriminated upon his condition. The main character in the movie is Andrew Beckett who acts as one of the main lawyer in a leading Philadelphia law Firm. The other main character is Andrews’s lawyer (Miller) who helped him in his legal battle. There are also other characters who help in building up the flow of the movie. From the movie, Becket tries to hide his identity about the fact that he is a homosexual and also his HIV positive. On one fateful day he was given the task to defend a case of the newest client in the law firm. During the period of handling the case, another coworker noticed something strange about Beckett. He noticed that Beckett had a lesion on his forehead and because of this he refused to turn up for work so that he hides his lesion.

During the period, Beckett was at home he suffered from bowels sperms and as a result he was rushed to the hospital. In this scene, Beckett receives a call requesting him to deliver the client’s complain case but this was in vain because he had lost all the files and he did not have even a soft copy in his computer. Due to this problem, Beckett receives a dismissal from Miguel whom he had considered as a friend for a long time. Beckett however believes that this step was done deliberately as a form of discrimination because of his HIV condition. To him this act is unlawful and Beckett decides to take a legal action on the matter. Among the lawyers that Beckett looks for to help him in his case is his friend lawyer Joe Miller. Surprisingly, Joe miller declines to take the case but goes further to contact the doctor to know whether it was possible that he can contact AIDS by shaking hands with Beckett.


Therefore, Beckett fails to get a lawyer to help him in his case and instead he takes up the role of acting as his own attorney. Beckett suffers a lot of discrimination because of his status. The discrimination Becketts goes through is evident the point the Liberian gave direction that Beckett uses a private room because of his HIV status. The law firm also summons Miller a friend to Beckett who decided to help him in the case since they believed that the act would destroy the image of the firm. During the time, the case was proceeding Charles Wheeler (Beckett former boss at the law firm) maintains that Beckett was incompetent on his work. 

In the last scene, of the movie Philadelphia the jury votes in favor of Beckett and this makes him to receive compensation for damages, pain and suffering. Approximately he receives 4.5 million US dollars. Lastly, Beckett dies while undergoing treatment in the hospital.

Theoretical Concepts of Interpersonal Communication Applied in the Movie

According to Floyd, the term ‘interpersonal communication’ refers to the process whereby a person stimulates meanings of other things in the mind of others through verbal or nonverbal means. In most cases, interpersonal communication keeps on changing, but still it happens between two or more people. On the other hand, theoretical concepts refer to ideas that are used to explain different kinds of interpersonal communication. Three theoretical concepts/approaches applied in this movie according to Floyd, includes the development approach, situational approach and governed approach.

Governed approach is a method that an individual chooses when making rules and procedures that will be helpful in solving disputes. In the movie, Philadelphia, there are various instances where the governed theoretical concepts have been applied. According to this approach, an individual chooses to follow the established rules and procedures in order to settle a dispute. This approach applies to the movie Philadelphia, when Beckett chooses to file a law suit by going for legal battle for his unlawful dismissal from the Philadelphia law firm.

In the movie, the author also employs the use of situational approach in its plot. Situational approach as an interpersonal theoretical concept involves developing a communication channel among two or more people regarding to their situation. In the movie, we identify Joe when his sermons Miller over the case of Beckett arguing that his case would destroy the image of the Philadelphia law firm. In the court rooms, Beckett is forced by situations to remove his to unbutton shirt to prove that his lesions were actually visible. Beckett undergoes a lot of shame in order to prove to the court that he had nothing left to hide. Situational approach is a key interpersonal communication method used to address agent needs. 

The other theoretical concept addressed in the book that applies to the movie is the use of development approach. Development approach refers to the movement of communication from one stage to another.  In this case, the message develops from one stage to the other in the sense that new information emerges between the parties. This case applies to Beckett when he decides to take legal actions following his dismissal. During the process of court hearing on Beckett case a lot of information emerges. For instance, more individuals get to learn about the fact that Beckett had a lesion. Again, it emerged that Beckett engaged in anonymous sex, which made him to acquire HIV/Aids. Therefore, notes that development approach helps us to critically analyze situations in a more objective manner.

Significance of the Theoretical Concepts

The theoretical concepts are very important in our daily to daily lives. In various occasions, we are involved in activities that subject us to perform communications activities that relates to theoretical concept. In this case, development approach it is very important in assisting in investigations. During the process of investigations, individuals might be interviewed and from the interview new information emerges that is relevant to the investigation process. In the movie, development approach applies to when the teacher coaches his/her students. In this case, the student is introduced to a new concept after the other. It means that the student learns new information about the topic each and every time the concept is introduced. The development approach is a good interpersonal communication method sine it enables one to have an in-depth understanding about a subject. The other benefit of this approach is that it builds good foundation in building a better relationship among friends. The more an individual knows the other the more the bond between them will grow stronger.  

Situational approach occurs in various instances in our day-to-day lives. For instance, it is evidenced in the movie when one character named Beckett was approached by his/her friend’s or his boss in the place of work to explain about a given activity in the firm. The situation will force the employee to compose him/her and give the information he is in reach of at the moment. Another example is when one is appointed to give an impromptu speech. The individual is likely to communicate little information because of lack of preparedness. Situational approach is never valuable. This is because situational approach can make one to compromise his or her image. In this case, it limits better communication among people. Situational approach can also lead to misjudgment of a situation. Because of an individual’ situation at the moment of communication it becomes easy to judge one wrongly. 

Floyd noted that the governed approach applies to our day to day live in places such as court system and in the formal institutions. For example, the movie demonstrated that people usually go to court to settle disputes by following the established rules and regulations, thus Beckett went to court to seek redress of his case with the law firm. This approach usually involves professionals in the respective field and it requires that a lot of consultation to be done before the final decision is made between the conflicting parties. In addition, formal institutions such as schools and other corporate organizations have their method of settling disputes. This method promotes governance in an organization by enabling people to settle disputes in a more organized way. In my view, this approach is valuable because it promotes discipline among individuals since one is forced to follow the correct procedures. 

Assessment of the Learning Value of this Experience and Examples in the Movie

Respecting human rights is an important value that we learn in the movie Philadelphia.  In the movie, Beckett’s is discriminated base on his health status. For example, Beckett’s case confirms that he was dismissed from his career in the Philadelphian Law firm due to his HIV status. At a given scene while Beckett is in the library, the librarian directs that he moves to the private room after learning about his condition that he was a HIV patient looking for information about HIV Aids. All this forms of discrimination violates human rights. Therefore, it is important that institutions adhere to the rule on people’s right in order to avoid suffering and pain that individuals go through when discriminated upon. Respecting human rights will also create harmony in the working environment. 

The other important learning value is that institutions play a very key role in solving disputes. The Beckett case is an example of dispute that came up between him and the employee. This was due to the fact that there was no proper communication among them. During the time Beckett was in the court defending his case he fought a lot of accusations. For instance, the accusation that he was incompetent in the organization. At the end of the movie Philadelphia, Beckett emerges the winner and he get a compensation for the damages that he was caused to suffer. Thus, it is important to recognize the fact that the court played a key role in ensuring that the conflict was solved.

The other key value lays on the networks that we have in life. The networks that we make in life have various advantages and disadvantages. Some of these communication networks are beneficial while others affect our lives negatively. Beckets files a legal case against his former boss at Philadelphia law firm we can surely notice that his friend Miller stood by him to help him win the case. At the last scene when Becketts finally dies, we see close friends and family members attend his burial. As Becketts is laid to rest we notice the emotional attachment and relationship that his friends and family had for him. On other hand, social networks of Becketts affected him negatively. In the court, Becketts admits that he previously lived a promiscuous life. He therefore contacted HIV when he had sex with a man. The effects of the disease made Becketts to have lesson on his forehead. Finally, Becketts dies a painful death. 

One of the major critical lessons learned from the movie is that it is important to appreciate diversity especially in the work place. At Philadelphian law firm, the managers sacked Beckett based on discrimination and this means that they failed to appreciate diversity in terms of recognizing employee’s health status. Due to the fact that Becketts was discriminated, he went through a lot of pain and suffering before his death. In this case, we realize that it is important to support people during the time they need helps most. Floyd calls for the end of stereotype period because it is clear that discriminating people has a lot of disadvantages especially to the life of the individuals.


In conclusion, the movie Philadelphia is a very interesting movie especially due to the fact that it is addresses important issues that happens in our day-to-day lives. Through the life of Beckett it is possible to feel the pain and shame that majority of those who live with HIV goes through. For example, Becket underwent a lot of pain and rejection after it was noticed that he was HIV positive. The lesson we get from the Philadelphian Law firm about the manner in which they treated the Beckett indicated to us how employees undergoes discrimination based on their health status. This is true today in many organizations where employees are discriminated upon based on gender, race, and ethnicity among others. Thus it is important for every individual and companies to respect human rights in all aspects. The movie Philadelphia clearly brings out the role of interpersonal communication. This is especially through the main character Becketts who experiences series of interpersonal communication after people knew about his condition and started to discriminate him. Similarly, while he was in the court, he found answer by himself why he was dismissed from the Philadelphia law firm. This clearly indicates the role that interpersonal communication took in the movie.

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