Movie 4D Man


The 1950s period was characterized by several scientific as well as social developments not only in American society but also across the world. The development that was taking place in different social spheres was captured and preserved in many media including books and movies. Among the movies that captured the mood in social, economic, and political development is the one entitled 4D Man. It was a depiction of different dimensions defining life in America. This paper seeks to evaluate the historical context in which the movie was made and identify various themes underlined in the film as well as how scientists were portrayed in society during that period. The paper also draws a relationship on how the movie was influenced by the public attitudes towards science.

4D Man was enacted 14 years after the devastating end of the Second World War. Therefore, the theme of scientists discovering things that would easily run out of their control would not capture the public attitude about science as much as the movie. In 1959 when the film was performed, several things had happened in American society including the realization that scientific discovery could be used to destroy the whole of humanity owing to what had happened in the Second World War. The public had definitely become opposed to the use of scientific discoveries such as nuclear bombs as weapons in a war. And therefore in trying to depict a situation where scientific discovery enables Scott to gain the power to go through any material without any difficulty, the writer could capture well the general attitude in the society. It was also during this time when many Americans had returned from war zones and were busy building their families.

As such, the presentation of a situation in the movie where Scott’s girlfriend betrays him and falls for Tony instead indicates the kind of love relationships that were being practiced in society. Scott is also a good scientist who is simply underpaid and unappreciated by his employer but he cannot say anything for this kind of treatment because he has no power to bargain with the employer. When an opportunity comes and he gains magic powers of being able to go through all objects with ease, he finds it appropriate to use this power so that he gets all that he has been missing in the past including money, love, power, and recognition.

The theme of love relationships depicted in this film reflects the kind of life that the American people were living at the time. It was common for scientists to be abandoned by their wives and girlfriends as they were deeply engrossed in their scientific researches and had little time for their families at a time when the family was much valuable. Moreover, the circumstances under which the scientists were finding themselves at the time were beyond their control, because since we had a great intellectual awakening in the country, the government or employers were not ready to remunerate or appreciate the work that scientists were doing. This was a cause for disenfranchisement that permeated the general public about scientists. They were known as disgruntled lot who were not able to use their profession to deliver themselves from the bondage of their labor as well as agitate for better rights from their employers.

The theme of the employer-employee relationship is also brought out clearly in the picture where despite Scott being a brilliant and hardworking research scientist, he is not paid well and is not appreciated at the workplace. When an opportunity presents itself in terms of gaining more power by attaining the 4 dimension capability, Scott does not even think about the consequences which are present in the future. What he only thinks about is money and fame to the extent that a discovery that to go through the material at his own free will, he must utilize the life of other people by going through them, he is not devastated because he has to survive anyway, killing people notwithstanding.

This is the general struggle that existed in the public domain during that time. It was a time when every American was busy finding something exciting in the social, economic, and political landscape of the country. People did not consider the effects that their actions would have on society so long as they would be satisfied in the end. Moreover, American society was transforming in terms of social values, even as science was fast getting a hold on the issues and cultures of so many people in the country. Scientists were considered as people with great minds who were able to come up with an answer to any problem in society. When Scott attains control over his free will to go through tough materials like carbonite, it is understood as the promise of the future wonders that science is going to bring to the nations.

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The theme of unemployment is also revealed in the movie through Tony who is brilliant but unemployed. It must be noted that actually the idea of material attaining 4 dimension states originates with Tony who is unemployed for burning down a college laboratory. Yet it is this brilliant mind in Tony that comes up with an amplifier that can change the state of a material. Tony loses the idea to Scott only when he falls in love with Scott’s girlfriend. This is again another illustration of how different social undertakings like relationships and love can lead to a state in which one can easily lose a pretty idea. In this case, maybe the idea that Tony had just discovered could be used to provide solutions to some problems in society. But, because of his attraction to Scott’s woman, he loses the idea to the almost irrational Scott who uses it for his own benefit and selfish intentions. In this regard, scientists are presented as brilliant people when it comes to discovering creative and innovative things through science but also weak in terms of their emotional attachment. If Tony was not subsidized by the woman, maybe he could have used the idea better than Scott.

The other theme is that of violence. The American society was emerging as a violent society having just managed to drop atomic bombs on two towns in Japan where thousands of people were killed. As such, when Scott’s former girlfriend discovers that Scott becomes almost uncontrollable with his 4-dimensional powers, she tries to seduce him with a kiss just like Delilah and Samson in the Bible and shoots him. Interestingly enough, despite Scott’s magical power to attain a 4D state and go through other people to replenish his powers, he falls for the trap that his former girlfriend lays for him; that of kissing her when in fact she has the intention of shooting him. This underscores the fact that revenge has consequences. Scott actually steals the experiment from Tony as revenge for his stealing of his girlfriend. Scott is also shot by his former girlfriend partly because she feels that Scott is having a good time, money, power, recognition, and everything that a woman would want. Yet, at the time when Tony was stealing her from him, Scott had nothing to show and this is the reason his girlfriend left. Society is awash with revenge and in so doing, it enters into a cycle that is difficult to break. The fact that the shooting does not kill the dangerous Scott means that people need to have a long-term consequence for starting a revenge mission. Scott must therefore continue killing people for his survival in 4 dimension states.

Music is a definitive feature of different societies. You can tell the activities that take place or the preferences of a society through its music. The kind of music used in this movie is a reflection of the level of development that American society was in at the time when the film was acted. Evidently, American society has a long history of music and indeed one of the most inspiring histories; however, using the slow music in the movie was an indication that art was almost taking a backstage in the social development at that time. This makes the movie a bit detached from the next generation that sprung in the 1960s that appreciated music.

However, the movie fails to capture the political wave that was taking place in the country at the time including the civil rights movements and many other agitations that were going on in the society. Probably, this was a conscious intention by the directors to stay clear out of politics. However, it was uncommon for American movies around this time to come out without having a single illustration of the political situation in the country. The only instance, when the picture seems to refer to the political situation in the country is when we are told that Scott was hardworking yet underpaid and unappreciated.

Definitely, a critic of the prevailing circumstance in the country would argue that this was about the blacks in America who were doing lots of work in predominantly white workplaces with poor working conditions laced with discrimination in workplaces. On the other hand, it could be argued that this was a reference to the generally poor working conditions even to the white people who were underpaid and not only the blacks. Whatever the interpretation, it is evident that this theme captures that general circumstance in which the public had found itself in terms of labor relations in the country at the time.


In general, the movie 4D Man reveals different themes that were evident in the American society of that time. Perhaps, the movie’s major theme of scientific discovery captures the prevailing mood in the American society at the period leading to the enactment of the movie. It is evident that at that time, public attitude could easily make or break an idea. This is because the country was emerging from a period of war where it had used its scientifically discovered atomic weapons to unleash terror on people.

Depicting a theme of destructive scientific discovery in the picture was most probably influenced by the public attitudes towards the science of weapons at that time. Other themes touching on love, betrayal, labor, and family relationships also were inspired by the happening and social adjustments that were taking place in the society. Generally, 4D Man presents scientists as people who are greatly endowed with great minds and intelligence but who need regulation so that they can put their knowledge to useful applications. It also portrays them as people who are week in their morals. This is based on the observation that since Scott gives up his girlfriend to pursue his newfound hobby of going through objects, he falls into a trap when the former girlfriend comes with a kiss, something that even the most polished and accomplished scientist like Scott could not resist.

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