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In Physical Education, We Learn to Conform


February 14, 2022 by ashikarija



This scene highlights the rigid structure that the teachers and adults in the film are imposing on the students. Her timed and robotic movements are a symbol for the authoritarian desire for a “perfect” society of people who are willing to conform to strict rules. Standing in the center of the circle, unmoving, adds to the perfect structure of the scene, as she is not trying to escape the circle or move within it. She is content with the structure, smiling and staring into the camera, breaking the fourth wall. The eerie smile plastered on her face suggests an urging for her students to do the same, to find happiness within this rigid society and conform as she did. It is almost a threatening smile, as she is instructing the students to do as she does, with unknown consequences if they don’t. It gives off the feeling of a bad dream that the viewer needs to wake up from. This scene juxtaposes the scenes around it, which are full of the students being noisy and chaotic in their environments, highlighting the stark difference of the generations. This also adds to the perspective of the different generations, with the youth being fed up with the authoritarian rule, while the adults are basking in it (and the fact that they almost directly control it.)


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