In reviewing the movie «Slingblade» many moral issues arose. «Slingblade» revolves totally around Karl, a retarded man who has spent almost all of his life in a psychiatric hospital. Upon the day of his release, Karl told his horrific story to a student newspaper reporter. While discussing his story, the viewers find that Karl was treated almost like an animal by his parents, picked on by almost everyone in town, including his father's boss's son. At the age of 11, Karl saw his father's boss's son having his way with his mother and assumes the worst. He then proceeds to attack the man with a Slingblade and kills him. When Karl learned his mother was enjoying the event, he kills her to.
About 25 years later, the psychiatric hospital feels Karl is cured and they release him into the world on his own. When the student newspaper reporter asked Karl if he would kill again, Karl stated, «I reckon I got no reason to kill nobody.»
While Karl was staying in the hospital he discovers his own faith. It took Karl four years to read the bible but then goes on state, «it wasn't what I expected in some places.»
After his release from the hospital the hospital director gets Karl a job fixing small machinery (lawn mowers) for his friend from his church. Karl was like a genius working on these machines.
I feel one of «Slingblades» main themes is the tragedy of lost childhood which Karl explores through his friendship with Frank. Later on, Frank's mother allows Karl to live in her garage and gives Karl a place at her table. However, Frank's mother has an abusive boyfriend Doyle, who makes Karl continually relive his past pain through the violent treatment Doyle expresses to Frank and his mother.
John Ritter plays a homosexual male in the movie who is like a father figure to Frank and a best friend to Frank's mother. He expresses several times in the movie to Karl how scared he is of Doyle and how he thinks that one-day Doyle will hurt them.
In the movie, Karl puts on the front to be a Christian like figure. His only possessions are a Bible and a few other books on Christmas and Carpentry. In the final scenes of the movie, Karl calls out to three of the main characters before he goes to confront Doyle.
Billy Bob Thorton uses the inversion of Peter's betrayal of Jesus to create a moral ambivalence over Karl's actions. «Slingblade» has no secret ever leading to his final confrontation, which I believe is a strange mix of Christ-like self-sacrifice and Old Testament Law.
In the movie «Slingblade» Karl expresses types of repulsion that show inner fear of brokeness and fragility. I believe the main theme of this movie was the tragedy of a lost childhood. The moral issues of the movie question the concepts of what we believe in to be right and wrong, sin and benevolence. In Karl's position did he even know what was right and what was wrong? From a social standpoint can we blame society allowing a child to live in an abusive home, not providing proper training for handicap individuals? Should his town have had obligations to him and his well being that they just turned there back on?
I also feel that Karl believed in his childlike way that what he did was morally the correct thing to do and the best way to handle the situation. Karl loved that little boy and wanted to protect him from danger the best way he know how and obviously the twenty-five years the state should have been treating Karl it was ineffective because Karl could not grasp the concept that killing someone is morally wrong. Society fell far short for preparing this man for any type of existence out the institution.
As for the movie going public, I feel that a better-written film, which leans more to the darker side of Karl, would have left the public feeling better about movie. The movie leaves you questioning good and evil. Asking yourself was Karl aware of what he has done. The movie had to many unanswered questions and the movie going public would be questionable because of the film. In a small town, how does not one person respond to Karl's actions? I felt the film was not too believable and had more fiction than fact. The movie public would be more involved when serious wrongs were being committed and being ignored under any religion that all people are good.