Film / The Majestic

"Sometimes your life comes into focus one frame at a time."

The Majestic is a 2001 dramedy film directed by Frank Darabont and starring Jim Carrey in one of his first serious roles.

It is 1951 and screenwriter Peter Appleton (Carrey) is about to get his big break when he's blacklisted as a Communist and subsequently fired from the studios. No one wants to be associated with him, so naturally he heads to the bar and tells a bottle of beer all his problems.

After driving his car off a bridge, Appleton miraculously survives, albeit without his memory. He wanders into the town of Lawson, California. In a bizarre coincidence, Peter is a dead ringer for Luke Trimble — one of the town's young men who never returned from the war. Convinced that he is his missing son, Harry Trimble (Martin Landau) takes Peter in and tries to pick their lives together back up where they left off.

Peter tries to fit into his new identity, hoping to regain his memories. All the while, the House Un-American Activities Committee is hunting him down...

Provides examples of:

  • Amnesiac Hero: Peter.
  • B-Movie : Sand Pirates of the Sahara, Peter's new movie. Complete with a cameo by the king of B-movies, Bruce Campbell.
  • Back from the Dead: Luke, sort of. Peter, when he returns to the court.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Sand Pirates of the Sahara. When the Majestic Theater unexpectedly plays it one night, seeing it makes Peter remember who he is.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: What the locals first think Peter is.
  • A Dog Named "Dog": "Simple, I like it."
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Adele.
  • Eagleland: Lawson, California seems to embody Type 1 for the most part, though it can also come across as a tad more progressive than the times. On the other hand, Los Angeles in general and the HUAC represent Type 2, showing the darker sides of the decade.
  • Easy Amnesia: It lasts exactly long enough.
  • Executive Meddling: In-Universe, several scenes show Peter trying to deal with executives toying with his masterpiece script. Their banter and suggestions are painfully realistic in their absurdity.
  • Fan Boy: Harry Trimble loves films, to the extent that when he misses a reel change he won't stop apologizing. even though it was because he had a stroke.
  • The '50s
  • Identical Stranger: The entire plot runs on this.
  • Let Them Die Happy: Peter doesn't tell Harry he's not his son moments before his death.
  • Most Writers Are Writers: Peter is a blacklisted writer.
  • Never Found the Body: Why Harry believes Peter is Luke.
  • Posthumous Character: Luke, whose integrity becomes a catalyst for Peter's own personal growth.
    Peter: The fact is I... I've never been a man of great conviction. I never saw the percentage in it... and quite frankly, I suppose I, uh... lacked the courage. See, I'm not like Luke Trimble. He had the market cornered on those things. I never met the guy, but I feel like I've gotten to know him. The thing is, I can't help wondering what he'd say... if he were standing here right now. You know, I think what I think he'd probably tell you: the America represented in this room... is not the America he died defending.
  • Old Soldier: Emmett, the head usher of the Majestic back in the day, served in World War One and we even see his full uniform at the ceremony honoring those who didn't make it back.
  • Only Sane Man: When the whole town is overjoyed at the return of Luke, Adele and Bob are cynical at first.
  • Quest for Identity: Peter tries so hard to be Luke.
  • Red Scare: Peter is under investigation by the House of Un-American Activities Committee.
  • Running Gag: The dog that the execs want to add to Peter's script keeps popping up.
    Clyde: Communist trash from beginning to end! There's a dog in it I quite like, but asides that...
  • Secret Secret-Keeper:
    • Emmett, the elderly black gentleman who ushered The Majestic back in the day, knew for a while Peter was not "Luke" because Luke could not play jazz on the piano.
    • Adele knew for a long time and tried hard not to fall in love with him.
  • Shaming the Mob: When Peter decides to throw out his planned "confession" he starts attacking the Committee for the values they are supporting and how these are completely against the ideals America just fought for in World War II. After this his lawyer notes how effective it was by making him a "hero" in public opinion and to prevent from making him a "martyr" they won't send him to jail for contempt.
  • Shout-Out: The golden idol used in Sand Pirates is the one from the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Ark.
  • Show Within a Show: Sand Pirates of the Sahara
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: When Peter is done shaming the House Un-American Committee with reading the First Amendment and citing what a Hero Luke Trimble was and what he died for, he silences the committee by showing them the Congressional Medal of Honor Luke was honored with for his valor above and beyond the call of duty.
  • Throwing Out the Script: Peter has a prepared statement for HUAC that was prepared by his lawyer and specifically tailored to get him off the Hollywood blacklist. However, when he starts to read it his throat goes dry and he realizes how wrong all of this is. He proceeds to chew out the committee and tell them what America is truly founded on.
  • Witch Hunt: HUAC and their Commie hunt.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: When Peter regains his memory, Lawson can't be home for him any more. Once he clears his name and returns triumphantly to Hollywood, he finds there is no happiness or satisfaction for him there. He decides to forge a new life in Lawson as Peter, not Luke.