Describe the film “Serpico”. Briefly summarize the film and explain the ethical conflict in the film. Share your thoughts on the conflicts presented. To complete this assignment, review the document attached below. 2-3 paragraphs APA format.
Title: Ethical Dilemmas and Conflicts in “Serpico”
“Serpico” is a 1973 American crime drama film directed by Sidney Lumet, based on the true story of Frank Serpico, a New York City police officer who becomes a whistleblower against police corruption. The film follows Serpico’s journey as he joins the police force, becomes increasingly disillusioned by the widespread corruption within the department, and ultimately decides to expose the misconduct.
Summary of the Film:
“Serpico” portrays the struggles of Frank Serpico (played by Al Pacino) as he embarks on his career as an idealistic police officer in the 1960s. As he encounters the pervasive corruption within the police force, he faces a moral dilemma: should he go along with the prevailing culture of bribery and misconduct or should he risk his own safety and stand up against it?
Throughout the film, Serpico’s integration into the police department reveals an insidious network of graft and bribery that extends from the precinct level to the highest ranks. Despite repeated attempts to address the issue to his superiors, Serpico finds himself isolated and targeted by fellow officers who view his refusal to accept bribes as a threat to their illicit activities.
As the film progresses, Serpico’s frustrations deepen, and he increasingly becomes an outcast within the department. Ultimately, he gathers concrete evidence to substantiate his claims of corruption and presents it to an independent investigative commission. The film concludes with Serpico testifying against his former colleagues, which leads to widespread arrests and reforms within the NYPD.
Ethical Conflict Explored in the Film:
The central ethical conflict in “Serpico” revolves around the tension between loyalty to one’s profession and the duty to uphold moral principles. Frank Serpico finds himself torn between conforming to the corrupt practices of his fellow officers and risking his own safety to expose systemic corruption.
On one hand, Serpico’s colleagues argue that he should accept the bribes and participate in illegal activities in order to ensure both his own survival within the department and the perceived safety of the community. They contend that individual police officers should prioritize loyalty to their colleagues and maintain a “brotherhood” rather than disrupt the status quo.
On the other hand, Serpico is driven by a strong ethical compass, believing that the duty of a police officer is to protect and serve the community, not to exploit it for personal gain. He is deeply troubled by the rampant corruption he encounters and feels compelled to expose it, even if it means facing isolation, hostility, and danger.
Thoughts on the Conflicts Presented:
The ethical conflicts presented in “Serpico” shed light on the complex dynamics within institutions and the challenges faced by individuals seeking to uphold their moral principles. The film raises thought-provoking questions about the role and responsibility of individuals within a corrupt system: Should one conform to corrupt practices to survive and effect change from within, or is it necessary to risk one’s own safety and well-being to expose systemic wrongdoing?
Serpico’s refusal to participate in corrupt activities and his determination to expose the truth demonstrate his unwavering commitment to truth and justice. His actions force audiences to confront their own ethical beliefs and the sacrifices individuals may have to make when confronted with profound institutional flaws.
Moreover, the film explores the social and psychological costs of blowing the whistle, as Serpico experiences isolation, betrayal, and even threats to his life. The complex portrayal of the personal toll on Serpico adds depth to the ethical dilemmas presented, making the audience question the moral limits of individual courage and the potential for change within entrenched systems of corruption.
In conclusion, “Serpico” serves as a powerful examination of the ethical conflicts faced by individuals within corrupt institutions. The film raises important questions about the role of integrity, loyalty, and moral responsibility in the face of systemic misconduct. By presenting the challenges and consequences of Serpico’s quest for truth, the film urges audiences to reflect on the moral compromises individuals may face when confronted with deeply entrenched corruption.