The modern interpretation of any story analysis these days is that the hero is a sociopath. An analysis of Ferris Buller should be no different. But I won’t go down that path. Calling our heroes (or anti-heroes) sociopaths is dismissive and keeps us from digging deeper. So instead, I’ll say that Ferris Buller is a fake.
He fakes his sickness to get out of school. He changes his cloths to fit into any situation that he needs to manipulate. He pretends to be someone that he’s not (Abe Froman) just for a seat at a restaurant. Then when the restaurant host sees past his disguise, he refuses to admit that he’s just a high school kid. He takes the risk of getting into further trouble by playing with the restaurant phone lines in an attempt to look like the person he claims to be. A scene later, when he leaves the restaurant, he sneaks past his father and steals his cab when he’s not looking rather than taking the less risky move of walking away. He still believes that he’s the Abe Froman he claimed to be.
I found it hard to connect with Ferris Buller in the end. There’s only so much I have to say about him, because he only reveals so much about himself. I don’t find him to be a likable character, and that might be the point. But how can we respect anyone that wants to be anyone but himself?
Redemption is found in characters like Cameron and Jean, who make the decision to change when they hit rock bottom.
This has been a very hard film for me to break down and write about. I couldn’t wrap my head around one theme like I can with many other films. But I do feel that the filmmaker used Ferris to make two critiques on the world:
- People believe what they want to believe just as they believed that Ferris was whoever he said he was.
- The world is a prison of rules and responsibilities that keep us from feeling freedom and happiness.
But then those are the life discoveries of a sociopath, aren’t they?