The Consequences of Words by Robert Smalley



     A Thousand Words is a movie starring Eddie Murphy (Jack), Clarke Duke (Aaron), and Cliff Curtis (Dr. Sinja). The very expressionist Eddie Murphy puts on a hilarious performance as a literary agent with the gift to persuade and tries to fast-talk Dr. Sinja, a spiritual self-help guru, into a book deal. The wise Dr. Sinja agrees to his deal only to produce a five-page pamphlet instead of a book. The whole deal backfires and jack finds a magical Bodhi tree in his back yard that will teach a vital life-changing lesson.  Every word Jack now speaks a leaf falls from the tree, when all the leaves are gone the tree will die and so will Jack. This forces Jack to limit his words spoken to stay alive; he must resort to nonverbal communication as a means to converse.

     Costing him his career and the relationship with his lovely wife, Jack searches for a resolution to his crucial situation. Dr. Sinja reveals that he must mend all his broken relationships and find inter peace to save his life and end the curse. His life literally dwindling around him and the leaves becoming sparse jack makes peace with his deceased father who abandoned him as a child without speaking a word; he heals the wounded angry inner child.  The last three leaves drop from the tree as he tells his father, “I forgive you” and Jack suffers a heart attack and falls to the ground in a terrible storm. Thinking he is dead his cellphone rings and his assistant tells him all the leaves are magically back on the tree and he can now vocally speak freely. Jack does fix his relationship with his wife, and buys her a beautiful house to raise their family in and moves his Bodhi tree in the front yard as a symbol and reminder of his experience. His deceitful position was lost to the assistant Aaron (Clarke Duke), and Jack moves on to write a book of his own titled A Thousand Words. The hysterical comedy ends when the assistant is making a deal with Jack for the book and a Bodhi tree appears in his office.


     I chose this artifact because it is extremely relevant to nonverbal behavior and communication. This source is an example of the use of nonverbal at its best, and a perfect example of everything we learned in this class. Eddie Murphy has the amazing ability to over exaggerate facial expressions and dramatic gestures. Jack uses many distinctive types of kinesics behaviors in this movie. He used emblems such as the slashing of the neck to express death, or he used illustrators and regulators like raised brows, nods, and smiles during many of his hilarious nonverbal conversation.

     Interactive gestures invite the receiver to fill in the unstated part of the message. One of the funniest parts of the movie is a perfect example of this. Jack is trying desperately to order coffee at Starbucks non verbally; his first attempt went terribly wrong and caused great misunderstanding. Jack tried again using theatrical gestures and was successful. Imagery-object gestures was effectively used when he held an imaginary espresso cup in his hands and begins to sip it three times to express three shot latte.  Jack continued his charade by wrapping his arms around himself and physically shivering to convey ice latte, and he ended his performance by squeezing his imaginary breast to indicate extra milk. Jack traded in his words for a million expressions in this very funny movie that features nonverbal communication.

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