The Land of False Hopes and Dreams

Kelly Macdonald
Professor Richardson
Humanities 450
March 22, 2009
The Land of False Hopes and Dreams
From the instant people started finding gold across the American River, the migration to and population of California grew exponentially. Hundreds of thousands of people from across the nation and the world crossed land and sea to get the opportunity to strike it rich in California. At this time to an outside perspective, California personified the central ideas behind everyone’s American Dream. The beautiful landscape, the hopeful dreams of finding gold, and the idea that you could make a new life for yourself without the baggage and negativity of your old life made it all the more attractive. However, those who came to California were soon so wrapped up in the greatness of the “Golden” state, that they were completely blinded to the realities of the situations. The majority of people who mined for gold didn’t strike it rich; they were just left with false hope, no money, and broken dreams. As in the case with the gold rush area of California, the California of the late 1920s- 1940s was not the utopia that was envisioned by the many residents and people who migrated to California. Work and money were not of abundance, and corruption and lawlessness was all too common, leaving the majority of people feeling defeated and hopeless. The underlying theme behind the films and books made at this time was a loss of hope. Films such as The Grapes of Wrath and Sunset Boulevard illustrate California as the once great place of hope and glamour that was overtaken by the sense of defeat. Since Hollywood was such a big business in California, the fact that it was so brutal and crooked was hard to swallow. Even though by looking at the films now it is easier to judge it as a dystopia, the false hope that is evident in both of the movies makes it seem like there is still possibility for a utopian society. Depression and war age films mirror the idea that California was not...