THE MOVIE CRASH
                                  Discussion and Writing Guide
     Karima Vargas Bushnell * Cross-World Consulting *

 “ A Brentwood housewife and her DA husband. A Persian store owner. Two police detectives who are
also lovers. An African-American television director and his wife. A Mexican locksmith. Two car-jackers.
A rookie cop. A middle-aged Korean couple... They all live in Los Angeles. And during the next 36 hours,
they will all collide...” – plot synopsis from the Lions Gate official website

      Discuss with others character development, intercultural issues and intercultural
communication in the culturally complex and emotionally intense 2005 movie Crash. You
choose which characters, scenes and situations to focus on.

      The ideas below are suggestions of ways to focus your discussion. You can
concentrate on two or three of them, mix or blend them as you see fit, or do something entirely
your own. Try to see beneath the surface with careful analysis, depth and insight. Of course
you may watch the movie as many times as you like—many people have reported catching
new things in the second or third viewing.

       1. CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT. A number of main characters in Crash
       undergo radical spiritual and psychological transformations in the course of the
       story. Discuss the character development of the Iranian store owner, the lead
       car hijacker, the Brentwood housewife, the TV executive, the young policeman,
       the older policeman, the police detective or others who change in major ways.

       2. OBJECTS. Five objects become instruments of fate in the psychological
       ―saving‖ or ―damnation‖ of different characters (as well as the physical survival or
       death of others.) Explain how one or more objects comes into the story, its
       significance, and its saving or destructive effect on the personality of the
       character paired with it below.

               The red ammunition box - the store owner
               The red ammunition box – the locksmith
               The two religious statues - the young policeman
               The invisibility cloak - the store owner
               The invisibility cloak – the locksmith
               The burning car - the older policeman
               The burning car – the TV executive‘s wife
               The last stolen van with it‘s surprising ‗cargo‘ - the lead car hijacker
3. RELATIONSHIPS. Analyze clusters of relationships that occur in Crash such
as those between:

The Iranian (Persian) store owner, the Mexican-American locksmith and their
The African-American television executive, his wife, his boss.
The older policeman, the older policeman‘s father and the social services worker.
The younger and older policemen, their supervisor, the television executive
       and the car-hijacker side kick.
The police detective, his girlfriend, his brother and those who offer him a higher
The Brentwood housewife, her husband, his ‗friend‘ at work, the locksmith and
       the housekeeper.
The lead car jacker, his sidekick, his distributor/boss, the ―Chinaman‖ and the

How do you analyze a relationship? Some key questions: How do the people
know each other and what do they do together? Where does the relationship
take place? How do they communicate? Which person or people make the
decisions or hold the power? How are they different from each other? Where do
they agree and disagree? Are there conflicts, and if so, about what? How does
each side try to ‗win‘? Is it a mutually beneficial relationship, or is someone
exploiting someone else? Are there major misunderstandings or differences in
points of view? Explain.

4. PREJUDICE AND STEREOTYPES. Most of the characters in Crash have
their own ideas about the other cultures they interact with. Discuss the role of
prejudice and stereotyping in Crash, trying to identify as many instances as
possible and analyzing them as appropriate.

5. SCENES. Choose and analyze particular scenes that interest you, describing
the setting, the situation, the character interactions and the scene‘s importance
for the characters and the plot. Pay special attention to the verbal and
nonverbal communications among the characters and how they affect the
characters‘ attitudes and actions toward each other.

6. OVERARCHING ISSUES. Pick a theme you see repeated throughout the film
and explore it. An example: The police detective, the television director and the
young policeman are all asked to do things by their superiors at work that go
against their moral and personal values. Explore their dilemmas, the choices
they make, and the effects of those choices.

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