Bringing the law to the gerontological stage: A different look at movies and old age

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Films often portray the complexities of real-life aging issues, showing how they are apparently handled outside of and around the law or legal issues. Furthermore, films considering the aged and the social issues associated with aging also reveal how the law actually functions as a framework around and within which people develop customs, habits, and behaviors related to the issue of old age. Exposing these hidden socio-legal boundaries allows us to better understand both the films concerned and the place of law within our aging society. In an attempt to better understand these issues, this article deconstructs five relatively modern and well-known films. All feature aged protagonists, and all tell their stories against a background of legal issues that are only alluded to, and remain hidden "behind the scenes." Two main questions are addressed by this analysis: First, to what extent does the reality of old age as described in the films considered here reflect familiar social phenomena identified by empirical studies? And, second, to what extent does the legal infrastructure embedded in the narrative of these films reflect the legal regulations that govern the aged in today's society. The conclusions that arose from the analysis of the cinematic and the legal reality expressed in the films demonstrate that the current level of discourse on major issues in social gerontology ignores the importance and relevance of law. Therefore, it behooves us to "bring the Law to the gerontological stage," where the current situation as it actually exists can be analyzed and perhaps even changed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-254
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Aging and Human Development
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Aging


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