The Devil Wears Prada (2006)
What happens when your first job is working for a ruthless boss? The simple and naive just-graduated in journalism Andrea Sachs is hired to work as the second assistant of the powerful and sophisticated Miranda Priestly, the ruthless and merciless executive of the New York based Runway fashion magazine. Andrea dreams to become a journalist and faces the opportunity as a temporary professional challenge. The first assistant Emily advises Andrea about the behavior and preferences of their cruel boss, and the stylist Nigel helps Andrea to dress more adequately for the environment. Andrea changes her attitude and behavior, affecting her private life and the relationship with her boyfriend Nate, her family and friends. In the end, Andrea learns that life is made of choices.
- Genres: Comedy | Drama | Romance
- Motion Picture Rating (MPAA): Rated PG-13 for some sensuality
- Country: USA
- Language: English | French
- Release Date: June 30, 2006
- Production Co: Fox 2000 Pictures, Dune Entertainment, Major Studio PartnersRuntime: 109 min
Theological Review of the film by Inger Manchester
Film Title: The Devil Wears Prada
Director: David Frankel Emmy award winner for short story comedy. Also directed Marley and Me.
Original release form/venue: Big Screen Release
Current Availability and formats: DVD
MPAA Rating: PG 13 for some sensuality
Story Elements — Characters
Miranda Priestly- Editor in Chief of Runway fashion magazine-played by Meryl Streep
Andy Sachs- Recent Northwestern Journalism Grad looking for her first “break” becomes co-assistant for Miranda- played by Anne Hathaway
Emily- Co- assistant for Miranda who reluctantly teaches Andy the ropes – played by Emily Blunt
Nigel- Art Director for Runway Magazine who befriends Andy – played by Stanly Tucci
Nate- Andy’s boyfriend played by Adrian Grenier
Simon Baker- The ‘other’ man played by Christian Thompson
Atmosphere: The atmosphere is most definitely urban chic. Much of the film is shot in New York City or with the city clearly in the background (like when the friends are in restaurants they are always at a window with the city behind them). The inside shots are very esthetic and white. There is constant movement. Racks, people, all are moving constantly in the background.
Plot: Andy is a recent Journalism grad from Northwestern. She is looking for a break through position in order to get a position in ‘real’ journalism. She considers the assistant position a rung in the ladder yet is constantly reminded how many women would kill to be in her position as Miranda’s assistant. Andy begins the movie not having any particular interest in fashion. However, as Andy embraces her very difficult position and begins to see the perks associated with it, she transforms. No longer is she the woman in sweatpants, she is now in haute couture. In order to keep up with the pace and demands of her position she has to make decisions that put her at odds with her family, her boyfriend and her friends. She begins to recognize the price that comes along with this level of success.
Film Language Elements:
Pacing: The pace is fast so that one feels as if they are in the city and that the job is constantly demanding more and more.
Acting: The acting is superb. Meryl Streep plays Miranda with tone of voice and facial gestures. She is cool and calculating; essential ingredients for her success in this difficult world. Emily Blunt plays the assistant brilliantly, weaving in just the right tine of disdain and comedic relief as she coaches Andy in how to assist. Andy played by Anne Hathaway is also brilliant, transforming from the “fat smart girl” (in what world?) to the chic, couture assistant of a fashion editor.
Setting: The film is primarily set in the city with many iconic NY images such as Time Square, and the fashion offices. There is a lot of use of glass in the offices to give an expansive feel. Racks of clothes are also used to set the tone of the workplace. The racks move and are constantly changing their inventory. Also worth noting is Andy’s apartment which is fitting for a recent college graduate, boxed and utilitarian.
Images: Shoes are a big image here. Many shots begin with the shoes and film up, implying that the shoes complete the outfit. In fact in the beginning Andy most definitely has the ‘wrong’ shoes and is quickly given a pair of 4 inch heels by Nigel. The branding of the film is a red stiletto heal that ends in a pitchfork. Clackers are those who work in the fashion industry whose heels click clack on the marble floors.
Editing: The shots are quickly strung together – note the coat montage- to show passing of time. There is a lot of fashion to show in a quick amount of time. Fashion is a character in itself.
Sound or Music: Music sets the tone and pace- upbeat and moving. Vogue by Madonna is a good example of the insider music.
Lighting: Often the background characters are present but blurred to give the impression that Andy is a little fish in the big city.
Audience/ Cultural Context Elements:
Intended Audience: This movie is intended for the most part for women although men would enjoy the story line as well. There is some implied sensuality and many underwear shots that might make this movie uncomfortable for those under 17. Films attitude towards audience: Most of the audience would be like the early Andyunaware of the rules of high fashion. There are insiders and outsiders. Most of us would consider ourselves outsiders to this high couture world.
Social Context: What does it ‘take’, what are we willing to give up, for success? What defines success?
Relationship of Film to its culture: Many young adult will relate easily to Andy who is a recent grad trying to find her way. The stress of the 20s and 30s is a big subject right now with some literature being released on The 20 something life crisis. Andy, in this film, is also in crisis.
Theological Themes for Conversation: What are the idols and goals we create for ourselves and do these goals in the end make us happy? Where is there room for Sabbath in this movie? Is this feasible or real? Using the temptations of Jesus in the wilderness, note that Jesus was tempted by bread when he was hungry. What was Andy most tempted by and why? What did she stand to lose?
Suggested type of Conversation: For Young Adult Women- struggling with the Quarter Life Crisis. Using the book 20 Something 20 Everything by Christine Hassler (New World Library 2005) Chapter 4 Securing Your Independence “ Maybe if we gave ourselves permission to relax and discover who we are rather than immediately defining ourselves, the phrase “twenty something crisis” could be replaced by something more appealing, such as “twenty something awakening” (p.103)
Introduction to The Devil Wears Prada — This movie revolves around the life of Andy, a recent Northwestern graduate who desires a career as a serious journalist. In her job search she ends us falling into a position of co assistant to Miranda Priestly, the powerful and demanding editor of a Runway, “THE” fashion magazine. Andy is sucked slowly into the world of fashion which seeks not only to change her outward appearance from frumpy to glamorous but her moral compass as well. We are rarely tempted by things that are easy to spot as evil, but easily tempted by things that have appeal to us. Therefore, as the book we have been reading points out, we
need to learn to recognize what we really desire- our intrinsic desires, from our reactionary desires.
Scene set up- Andy has been working at the magazine for a while now and her family is becoming concerned about the toll that the demands of the position are taking . Is Andy too involved to see what
is going on?
Look at scene – 11 Dinner with her father — How is Andy’s transition to independence portrayed here? What do you see about reactionary versus intrinsic behavior? Is this realistic- that sometimes we get caught up in expectations? Why does Andy put up with it? Is this realistic? Have you made any decisions to prove yourself to someone? The book talks about making the safest option- the one that is expected of you- do you see Andy doing this? What is her other choice? What would you do? Independence versus Interdependence? How does the book define the difference? (p.114)
Webster definition of independence- “not subject to control by others , self governing; not affiliated with a larger controlling unit; not requiring or relying on someone or something else; not looking to
others for one’s opinions or for guidance in conduct”
To set scene up- Miranda has just learned that her third husband is leaving her. She also has learned and navigated through the potential loss of her position of power by being politically minded but the
result is she has sacrificed friendships. Andy is seeing the results of this lifestyle of glamour and the need to constantly be on top.
Look at scene-31 “To Be Us” — What are the results of full independence? The book talks about creating a toolbox to help you through life- what tools might Andy have to ground her? What choices has Miranda made? Does everyone want to be them? Sabbath time is certainly not a positive in this movie- the movie celebrates the city lifestyle, the glitz, the need to always be calculating to be on top. Although exaggerated, do you see this as a true commentary of what is expected of you as one who is building your career? How can faith and church be a support system? “A tool” in your toolbox?
Final Comments: This movie presents a wonderful opportunity to speak with young women about the pressures that they face as 20 and 30 years old. Work, social relationships and expectations are all things that young people face today. By using Andy as a fun to watch and a bit over the top example it can open good conversation in this arena. What is their reality?