The character Cameron Frye (Alan Ruck) from Ferris Bueller's Day Off is one of the most interesting and deep characters I’ve ever seen in a comedy. Anyone who’s survived the trials of growing up and making it though High School has a little bit of Cameron in them. This essay assumes that the reader is fairly familiar with the movie. If you haven’t seen it, or seen it recently, immediately stop reading and go rent the DVD. Then come back.

The Ferrari 250GT represents the way that Cameron wants to be treated. He, like the car is very “low mileage”, has been kept by his parents in “pristine condition” and has not been let out. Cameron is surrounded by nice things, and he resents it. “Cameron’s home life is really twisted. His house is like a museum,” explains Ferris, “it’s very big, and very cold, and you’re not allowed to touch anything”.

Cameron craves attention from his parents, especially his father. He’s is embittered about the amount of time his father spends on the car, and not with his family. When Ferris wants to take the car in the beginning, Cameron explains, “he doesn’t drive it, he just rubs it with a diaper.” By motioning the word diaper, Cameron expresses that his father treats the car like a baby, rather than as a machine.

Childhood was an extremely traumatic experience for Cameron. He felt like a prisoner in his own home. While lying in bed, he sings, “When Cameron was in Egypt land, ‘let my Cameron go.’” Even the simple mention of marriage by Ferris brings up negative feelings toward his parents. “You want two reasons to not get married?” says Cameron, “My mother and my father. They’re married and they hate each other.”

Cameron also suffers from the lack of a good role model. He’s tried to emulate his father, and thus, as Ferris explains, “he’s wound up so tight, if you stuck a lump of coal up his ass, in two weeks you’d have a diamond.” He spends the entire day running around with Ferris and Sloane, but never really has a good time because he’s scared about the car. In the afternoon, Ferris in his normal style, gets up on a float and starts singing, dedicating the song, “to a guy who says he hasn’t seen anything good today,” implying that there are no boundaries to what you can do as a kid. This is a concept that Cameron does not want to accept.

The transformation that Cameron undergoes in the movie is all mental, but it is demonstrated by physical symptoms. At the beginning of the film, Cameron is “sick” at home. Ferris finally convinces him to go out, and he fights not to go. After discovering that the parking people had driven the Ferrari all day, Cameron goes into shock. He walls himself out of the world, in the same way that a caterpillar builds a cocoon. In the end, he comes out of his trance and decides to face his problems, not run away from them.

“I am not going to sit on my ass as the events that affect me unfold to determine the course of my life,” says Cameron before taking out all of his pent up anger aimed at his father on the car. During his monologue, he yells at the car as if it was his father. “Who do you love? You love a car!” Cameron yells as his kicks the front bumper. Afterwards, after he “kills the car” and gets over the initial “holy shit”, he comes to realize a great deal about his life. He finally decides to face his father, and thus deal with his emotional issues.

By the end of the film, Cameron has changed from a scared, sheltered, confused child to a mature man who is willing to face his future head-on. He’s going to deal with his problems, and he’s not going to let anyone get in his way. “Do you think Cameron’s going to be ok?” Sloane asks Ferris, as they get ready to go home. “Yes,” answers Ferris, “for the first time in his life.”

Thank you

The most beautiful moment in this film occurs when Cameron is at the Art Institute of Chicago. He's standing in front of Georges Seurat's Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. The painting consists of small points of color, a style called pointillism. In this painting, done in 1884, men, women and children are standing and lying down along a lakeside, women with their umbrellas, wearing corsets and covering their bodies from head to foot. Everything is proper, geometric, nothing out of place, like Cameron's life. In the middle of the scene stands a young infant, three or four years old with a pale washed-out face, looking straight at the viewer.

The scene in the movie cuts back and forth between Cameron's sorrowful face and the face of the child. Cameron recognizes aspects of his nature in that child's face. The unformed blank face suggests a tabula rasa life, a life unformed, a life unlived, like Cameron's, all potential but no action.

The music is especially haunting. It's by Tangerine Dream, and it's entitled Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want. Thanks go to mattress and another noder (/msg me if you were the one!) for pointing out that this was originally written by Morrissey of the Smiths, and can be found on their Louder than Bombs album.

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