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3.0 1
Director: David Mamet

Cast: William H. Macy, Debra Eisenstadt, Rebecca Pidgeon


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David Mamet directed this screen version of his controversial two-character stage drama. John (William H. Macy) is a self-centered college professor preoccupied with his bid for tenure and negotiations for a house that he and his wife want to buy. Mary (Debra Eisenstadt), one of his students, comes by John's office after class; she's failing his course and is


David Mamet directed this screen version of his controversial two-character stage drama. John (William H. Macy) is a self-centered college professor preoccupied with his bid for tenure and negotiations for a house that he and his wife want to buy. Mary (Debra Eisenstadt), one of his students, comes by John's office after class; she's failing his course and is obviously confused by the material. Not really paying attention to her, John discusses his philosophies about education in an abstract manner rather than offering concrete suggestions on how to improve her grades. The discussion becomes confrontational and eventually Mary leaves. Several days later, Mary returns, announcing that on the advice of her "group" that she is filing sexual harassment charges against John based on a broad interpretation of his statements. If Mary's suit is successful, it could cost John his job -- and the house he's always wanted. Mamet's wife, actress and musician Rebecca Pidgeon, composed the film's musical score.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Matthew Tobey
Frustrated with the inability to pin it down as a film about feminism or American higher education or class differences or any other number of social and political themes, some simply criticized David Mamet's Oleanna as unclear and confused about its own intentions. But it is its grayness that makes Oleanna, just like its source play, such an outstanding film. The film deals with all of those issues, and its ambiguity toward them, like that in our everyday lives, is why it polarizes audiences and sparks so many debates. Boiled down to its basic elements, Oleanna is a power struggle between its two characters, fascinatingly portrayed by William H. Macy and Debra Eisenstadt. At first Macy's character has the power in the relationship, and he wields it carelessly and patronizingly, offering no real answers or help to his fragile and confused student. Unsatisfied with their meeting, Eisenstadt's desperation leads her to seize the power without regard to consequences. It is the careless handling of power and the desperation felt when facing such power, coupled with the claustrophobic setting and trademark Mamet dialogue and pacing that makes watching Oleanna such a emotionally charged and downright maddening experience. Viewers shouldn't expect to walk away with any solid impression of Mamet's personal ideologies, but they can certainly expect to be affected.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Mgm (Video & Dvd)
Region Code:
[Wide Screen]
[Dolby Digital Mono]

Special Features

Closed Caption; Original theatrical trailer; English: mono; Spanish: mono; English, French & Spanish language subtitles

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
William H. Macy John
Debra Eisenstadt Carol
Rebecca Pidgeon Actor
Scott Zigler Clerk in Copy Shop

Technical Credits
David Mamet Director,Screenwriter
Kate Conklin Set Decoration/Design
Cara Giallanza Asst. Director
Sarah Green Producer
Jane Greenwood Costumes/Costume Designer
Peter Kurland Sound/Sound Designer
Rebecca Pidgeon Score Composer
Freddy Potatohead Musical Direction/Supervision
Andrzej Sekula Cinematographer
Barbara Tulliver Editor
David Wasco Production Designer
Ryan Weiss Sound/Sound Designer
Patricia Wolff Producer

Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Main Title [2:55]
2. "What Is a Term of Art?" [3:53]
3. Not Quite Good Enough [4:47]
4. On Being Stupid [6:48]
5. "Because I Like You" [3:20]
6. Starting With an "A" [5:20]
7. Just Prejudice [3:07]
8. Professional Provocateur [5:10]
9. Almost a Confession [7:45]
10. Shaky Dreams [11:59]
11. Simply, Imperfectly Human [7:59]
12. "You Are Not God" [8:54]
13. The Student as Teacher [4:05]
14. Requirements for Peace [5:34]
15. The Last Straw [4:33]
16. End Credits [3:09]


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Oleanna 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Oleanna review Oleanna is a play written by David Mamet, the play is about a university lecturer named John and a young female student Carol, who is struggling in his class. The characters are central to Mamet's presentation of certain themes. Their relationship is developed through three acts, each showing a new phase of their interaction. The play has many themes throughout it such as sexual harassment, feminism, gender but I believe that there is a power struggle between both protagonists, and this throughout the play is a main theme. The language at the beginning has many repetitions, unfinished sentences and interruptions; this can be difficult for the reader to understand what is actually going on,this may act as a link to show us how Carol is feeling at present moment in play. Throughout this conversation John has many telephone calls, one from his wife , they are discussing personal matters, but Carol is listening in and later asks him about the house he is buying ¿You¿re buying a new house!¿This is an improper question and this could be seen as Carol actually crossing the teacher-student boundary. The form their dialogue takes also expresses a power dynamic here it is John that does most of the interrupting, exerting his dominance over Carol in conversation. Its starts off with Carol going to her professor for help who sympathises with her frustration. He lectures her of his own frustration that he felt as a student at the dogma of education. Thus releasing his authority and power. Carol takes advantage of this and abuses the power he has allowed her. Instead of giving her conventional advice, the professor explains to Carol his entire philosophy of education. She is offended by some of what he says, and they argue, but their eventual parting seems to be amicable. Act two, however, reveals that Carol has filed a protest against the professor, accusing him of sexual harassment. Her charges are accurate in fact, but neither intent nor context is considered. Bolstered by a group of nameless, faceless supporters, Carol is no longer the nervous, uncertain girl of act one. And, as her self-assurances waxes, the professor's wanes. He stands to lose his tenure and his beloved house. He absolutely cannot accept these lose. It¿s clear from this point on that she has the upper hand; it's also painfully obvious that Carol is aiming for more than justice in her actions against John. She clearly enjoys watching him squirm: in a sense, she's exercising her power as the puppeteer, which she proves by going back to talk to him, even when she is recommended otherwise. Any sympathy we had for this character in earlier developments is lost in the transition from one act to another; soon, it comes down to a question of who is right, and who is wrong. She transformed successfully from submissive to dominant throughout the acts. The dogma that the open-minded professor was defying came back to bite him. He was the clear victim of this tragedy. I will not summarise the entire final act but I will say the scary and shattering finale of Oleanna shows how, tragically, violence remains the answer of choice for so many impasses in today's society. The most illuminating value of Oleanna is that it demonstrates so clearly how men and women can view the same events through entirely different prisms. With all the best will in the world, despite a real effort, I cannot see the professor as guilty. I see the student as a pathetic feminist who masks her own inadequacies with a manufactured ideological attack: She is failing the course not because she is a bad student but because her teacher is a sexist pig. Oleanna is a film that will arouse strong feelings within you as you watch these two characters attack each other and switch roles. Mamet skilfully portrays the lust for power that lies behind the confrontations waged in the name of gender, class, age, and political correctness.