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The Vanguard

Lebanon Trail High School News

The Vanguard

Lebanon Trail High School News

The Vanguard

Movies, Mental Health, and the ’90s

Marisa Naraine
A collage of popular movies from the ’90s that discuss mental health topics

The ’90s brought the emergence of mental health representation in popular movies. The first emergence of such a movie was “Dead Poets Society”, released in 1989. Other movies of this sort throughout the decade included “Good Will Hunting”, “Girl Interrupted”, and “The Virgin Suicides”.

The above films mentioned all have one thing in common: they were coming-of-age stories. These movies portrayed life somewhat more realistically than those of the ’80s such as “Risky Business”,The Breakfast Club”, and “Pretty in Pink”; most of these being comedies. Don’t get me wrong, plenty of great teen comedies were still a part of the ’90s like “Clueless” and “10 Things I Hate About You”. Yet the difference between the ’80s and ’90s is how it became more common to see coming-of-age films people could at least partially relate to; they were not only feel-good, rom-com, or adventure stories.

Movies with “mentally ill” characters have historically (and still to this day) depicted them as violent and impulsive. Films depicting mental health are most of the time rated R or PG-13. Mentally ill characters also tend to be villains. For example, Norman Bates and practically every Batman character. Looking at the Norman Bates character in “Psycho”, he was supposed to have a dissociative personality disorder. However, in the film, he is aware of his different personality which is a false portrayal of such a disorder.

In “Good Will Hunting”, Matt Damon stars as a troubled yet extremely gifted young man whose life is changed by a therapist played by Robin Williams. Damon was one of the young IT actors of the ’90s so it was powerful to see a prominent actor express such deep emotion on screen when it is not considered “masculine,” even in today’s society. Similarly, “Girl Interrupted” also starred popular celebrity names (Winona Ryder and Angelina Jolie). It was interesting to see A-list-level actors take on these roles because such roles historically are not popular for stars. The biggest actors of the ’50s and ’60s usually stuck to more “polished” roles, however, actors like James Dean and Marlon Brando did bridge out.

Many of the films mentioned were celebrated at the Oscars. “Dead Poets Society”, “The Virgin Suicides”, “Good Will Hunting”, and “Girl Interrupted” were all at least nominated for multiple awards. Overall, the ’90s were a revolutionary time period for portraying “taboo subjects” on screen. They continue to stand the test of time more than 24 years later and inspire the creatives of today.

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About the Contributor
Marisa Naraine
Marisa Naraine, Staff Reporter
Marisa Naraine is a current sophomore at LTHS. She joined newspaper in hopes to pursue journalism in the future. If that doesn’t happen, she plans to become a therapist instead. She is also a member of the LT color guard. If she is not busy with schoolwork or color guard she’s probably reading or watching movies that she plans to write a review for newspaper. Contact Info - [email protected]

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