In the film, ‘The Big Heat’, the distinctive, dark and dangerous world of ‘Film Noir’ becomes immediately apparent from the first scene. The genre that originated just after the Second World War, inspired by Europe, tells the gloomy tales of a corrupt society in which women, the ‘femme fatales’-beautiful, famous Hollywood actresses- are very powerful and manipulative. As these film were made at a time when women were beginning to gain more rights, the plots of these films worried the male audience, as this showed a future that they wanted to avoid. This idea of women becoming more powerful certainly didn’t seem impossible to the men in Lang’s 1950’s contemporary audience, and it clearly wasn’t impossible. Looking at a typical modern-day relationship the power is relatively balanced, yet not as serious or anywhere near as dark as ‘Film Noir’ implies.
The opening scene of ‘The Big Heat’ is a very effective way to introduce a film of the sinister, mysterious ‘Film Noir’ genre. This is achieved by a poorly lit set and then from the smoke emerging from the barrel of the gun.
The establishing shot is a close-up; a short, black, snub-nosed revolver. It is shown in a close up to make the viewers realise what will inevitably happen: this gun will be used and somebody will probably be killed. After all, Fritz Lang’s contemporary audience would surely realise what this was as it was standard attire for the shadowy, mysterious figures at the time. Still in close up, a hand retrieves the weapon and removes it from the shot. After this, we hear a gunshot and Lang cuts to a slightly wider shot to allow the viewer to see the dead body of man, now slumped across the desk, still holding the smoking firearm. The smoke could represent the clouded judgement of the suicide or just confirm to the viewer that the weapon has been fired. This piece of action surprises the viewer and engrosses them to the film, making them ask, ‘what’s going on?’
The Essay on The Film, witness, shows the audience a clash of different cultures that come together briefly but cannot mix
It is clear that the clash of the Amish and mainstream American society cannot mix, as shown in the film Witness. Although the cultures meet out of necessity in the film, the relationship between John Book and Rachel Lapp doesn’t eventuate, Eli and Book disagree on their ideas of justice, and the lifestyles of the two different societies are often incompatible. (When Samuel is involved in the ...
When the woman, who we later know as Bertha Duncan, comes down the stairs, the camera cuts to a mid shot of her; she looks concerned but not as distraught as one would expect. In this way, Fritz Lang is making the scene mysterious and keeping the viewer in the dark. She pauses on a small landing in between the stairs and stands next to a clock that reads exactly three o’ clock. This may be to show how strategically planned and timed his suicide was or to make the audience wonder if it is early morning or mid-afternoon and what difference this might have; it is impossible to tell if any light is coming through the window due to the usual dark lighting and smoky atmosphere either way, the way in which the clock is filmed makes the audience remember the time shown on its face.
The woman, Bertha Duncan, then picks up a bulky envelope, presumably containing a suicide note. Before she opens it, Lang uses another mid-shot to show that the letter is clearly not addressed to her, yet she opens it anyway. Then she calls the ‘district attorney’ instead of the police. Although she is dressed, and seems, like the ‘nurturer,’ by doing these small things she is making the audience reconsider her position in this film. She is beginning to seem like ‘femme fatale.’
This scene is full of little clues designed to be unravelled by the viewer, who, in turn, will then make an interpretation and question the clues meaning and what they might mean in the world of ‘Film Noir.’
The next scene is the first time we meet the ‘femme fatale’, and it opens with a long-shot of a her, Debbie Marsh, lying on a sofa with her feet up, smoking a cigarette. Lang’s contemporary audience would be mortified, as in the 1950’s, women were not supposed to smoke and the fact that she has her feet up shows the audience that she is bored, along with her expression and body language. If this is the case, and she is bored, it shows that she isn’t doing any chores or she hasn’t got any to do; this helps the audience recognise that she is, in fact, a femme fatale.
Artemesia Gentileschi Artemesia Gentileschi Artemesia Gentileschi Essay, Research Paper Artemesia Gentileschi was very different from other artists of her time. Being a woman painter was all but unheard of during the High Renaissance. She had the style of Caravaggio, while at the same time bringing in women's characters who were in the position of power. Throughout art history, an idea that women ...
When she picks up the phone and realises who it is on the other end she acts surprisingly. Although she knows she is talking to a powerful and important man she mocks him and her boyfriend, Vince Stone, who is playing a card game with a selection of corrupt officials from the police force and the council. She comments on their ‘power’ acting as though they are playing some kind of ‘make-believe’ game.
When Stone does come in the room there is a lot of shadow cast over his face and a dark shadow follows him on the wall. The use of shadows occurs very often in Film Noir and it is used to show a characters dark side, in this case, Vince and Debbie’s bad side.
After Vince has finished on the phone, Debbie gets up and climbs over the furniture, not asking, but telling Vince that she is going to get a drink. Women at the time were not expected to drink but Lang has already proved to the viewer that Debbie is not a stereotypical woman and the way she speaks to Stone suggests she has more power in the relationship which is an unusual thing to happen at the time and furthermore confirms her position as a femme fatale.
As Debbie walks out of the room, like Vince, her shadow follows her on the wall showing her dark side again. She continues being cheeky to Vince as she says “two” on her way out of the room, meaning she is going to have two drinks, yet Vince doesn’t seem to care at all.
As she leaves the room, Vince is not watching her leave, he is staring at her legs. This shows the viewer that their relationship is not a loving one, it is more of a relationship where Debbie gains from Vince’s money and gifts of clothes and jewellery and Vince is content to give these as long as this beautiful woman is on his arm.
... turning him over to the police. As Debbie dies, shot by Vince, Bannion tells her about his wife and ideal family ... Place: The Absent Family of Film Noir,' Women in Film Noir, ed. E. Ann Kaplan (London: British Film Institute, 1980): 27. According to Harvey, ... a sense of film noir's complicated relationship to the family develops. The Big Heat (1953), directed by Fritz Lang, represents family life ...
The films, including this one, usually feature a hero or anti-hero, Dave Bannion in this case, who must solve some kind of problem or crime. On the way, this character may get emotionally involved and ‘sucked-in’ to the problem, and sometimes ends up, along with the femme fatale, dead, although, fortunately for Bannion, this is not the case in, ‘The Big Heat.’
The ‘hard-boiled’ detective is made, by Fritz Lang, the director, a very likeable figure by showing the audience his intelligence and determination. The first time he comes on the screen, at the scene of Tom Duncan’s suicide, he is dressed in a shirt and suit without a tie. Although he is smartly dressed, it is clear that his suit is not quite as well-cut as the ones the criminals are wearing, a typical Film Noir message is conveyed here, crime pays.
Lang also makes the audience warm towards Bannion when we see him with his wife, Katie. The way they speak to each other and casually share drinks and cigarettes shows the viewer how much they love each other and make us feel happy for them. This is what makes it so tragic when the explosion kills Katie and Lang uses a close-up of his face and a tear trickles down his cheek, turning the emotions of the viewer from very happy to very sad in a matter of seconds.
Towards the beginning of the film, Bannion manages to stay emotionally uninvolved with the case but after the Lucy Chapman murder, Bannion clearly gets dragged into the case, he is clearly disgusted with Lagana and Stone’s actions especially, it seems, the way that Lucy Chapman was burned with a cigarette. He gets even more attached to the case when his wife dies, which is when Bannion begins to seek revenge rather than justice. In typical ‘Film Noir’ this would probably lead to his downfall, yet Bannion seems to be lucky in this way as he escapes the horrors of Film Noir unscathed which is more than can be said about his wife.
In the 1950’s, technology was a completely new concept and not all the public completely trusted, or felt that they could rely, on it. Throughout ‘The Big Heat,’ Lang uses technology, in particular the telephone, to bring bad news to the characters, as if implying that the technology is, in fact, evil.
Film noir is one of the most beloved and popular "period" film genres of the late twentieth century, although at the time that the movies comprising the genre were made, the term film noir was unknown. Essentially, it mean "black film" - a variation on the nineteenth-century French critical term roman noir, or "black novel" - referring to any number of doom-laden, deeply psychological crime dramas ...
One particularly good example of this is when, early in the film, Debbie answers the phone and passes on to Vince without an ounce of hesitation, completely interrupting his game of cards. Yet later, when Katie answers the phone and hears that it is for Bannion, she is reluctant to pass the phone on and interrupt their meal. Lang shows the audience yet another clear divide between good and evil.
Throughout the film, mirrors are often used to show a characters vanity, generally the femme fatale’s vanity and this is a huge ‘Film Noir‘ message, don’t be vain. The majority of women at the time would not have cared much for her looks, she would usually be too busy looking out for her family and keeping the home in order. The femme fatales, however, are quite the contrary, they appear to be constantly staring into a mirror, checking their appearance.
A mirror is used when Dave Bannion meets Bertha Duncan in her room. Before he enters the room, she is looking into a dressing table mirror and applying make-up, yet when Bannion knocks on her door she rubs her face, worsening her appearance. Attempting to appear to Bannion more like the nurturer, and less like the femme fatale she is evidently becoming, to mask her overall involvement in the whole situation.
The mirrors also help the audience to see the split personality of these women along with the shadows and, ultimately, the scar on Debbie Marsh’s face from the hot coffee tipped on her by Vince Stone, her souvenir from the evil side of ‘Film Noir,’ especially as she cares so much for her appearance.
Each time a mirror is used it could be to show the characters vanity or to show the viewer the other side of this woman, or both. Keen ‘Film Noir’ viewers, including Lang’s audience, would have noticed this and realised what Fritz Lang was trying to achieve.
Lang uses juxtaposition to show the contrast between Vince Stone’s penthouse and Dave Bannion’s family home. Stone’s luxury apartment is very large, probably too big for just Vince and Debbie as they always seem to be separated in different rooms by partition doors. When Vince is playing cards with the crooked officials, Debbie is in the next room with the door shut, lying on a sofa. These proxemics suggest to the audience that Vince and Debbie don’t actually love each other and would prefer to be apart than together. Whereas Bannion’s home is completely the opposite, his home is smaller yet very open-plan and him and Katie are always together, portraying the fact that this is very much a more loving, family relationship than the criminal one of Stone and Debbie and although they are much wealthier than Bannion, you can’t buy love. This is why putting these scenes together is very effective as to show the difference between good and bad.
Debbie Allen Debbie Allen has become one of America’s brightest stars. She has spent a lifetime preparing to be famous. She lives her life by the philosophy that “luck is when opportunity meets preparation.” Actress, singer, dancer, director, producer Allen was born in Houston, Texas, on January 16, 1950, to a Pulitzer Prize-nominee for poetry, Vivian Allen, and a dentist, Andrew Allen. She is the ...
Lieutenant Wilks, Bannion’s boss in the police force, is a strange character to appear in a Film Noir as he is seems to be neither here nor there in the way of corruption. When Wilks first appears on the screen, he is washing his hands, implying that he is guilty? Or is he hiding something from Bannion? This makes him come across to the audience like a Pontius Pilate figure, the Prefect of the Roman Province of Judaea who sentenced Jesus to death but famously washed his hands in front of the crowd that had gathered to hear the Prefect condemning Jesus, saying “I am innocent of this mans blood; you will see.” Pilate did not want to order the death of Jesus but he was persuaded by other, more powerful, leaders and felt that he had no choice, this seems to be similar to Lieutenant Wilks’ position, as the commissioner is completely crooked, and was one of those playing cards with Vince earlier in the film, Lang tries to allow the audience to see this by making the character wash his hands.
Wilks, although he is not actually corrupt, tries to keep in line and lie low, whereas Bannion doesn’t mind having the spotlight on him, as long as justice is served. Wilks describes him as a, “corn-stepper in instinct,” as although he has been told to leave Bertha Duncan alone, he still goes back to question her, showing his determination to achieve justice.
In typical ‘Film Noir’ style, the film ends the same way it started, with murder. After her conversation with Bannion, Debbie realises that he is not going to kill Bertha Duncan, and so she takes matters into her own hands and does it herself. She talks to Bertha, describing the pair of them as, “the mink-coated girls” as they are both ‘femme fatales’ and, coincidentally, wearing the standard femme fatale mink coats.
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What are the benefits and shortcoming of only using qualitative techniques to make long term financial decisions? (5%) Qualitative techniques are used to make long-term financial decisions among small and medium enterprises (SMEs) with great consistency. The qualitative based decisions are made on experiential knowledge of the various factors involved rather than on monetary measurements, yet they ...
After Debbie has finished there, she goes back to Vince’s penthouse. Lang shows a long shot of Stone walking through the door into his apartment after his meeting with Lagana about killing Bannion. Much to the audience’s surprise, a pot of hot coffee is thrown over him from the shadows; the lights flick on and Debbie is seen, standing by the door, the pot still in her hand, she walks up to him and shows him the scar that has ruined half her face. As she steps away, shadow covers this half of her face, again, showing the two sides of the character. She walks across the room and Stone shoots her, then Bannion emerges from the shadows and starts shooting at Vince. The shoot-out, shown by a series of long shots, progresses outside, and Bannion manages to catch Stone and points a gun to his head. Yet his likeable, ‘family-man’ character can not bring himself to shoot Stone, or anyone for that matter and so he calls back-up and has him arrested instead.
When Bannion returns to check on Debbie he, and the audience, immediately notices a change. She is no longer wearing her mink coat, her make-up is slightly less thick and her face is turned to show the good, non scarred, side of her face. The viewer sees that she has finally left her evil behind but it is too late as even she says, “I am going to die,” and this seems to be what will happen.
Film Noir is typically very distinctive and easily recognisable. Dark rooms with light slicing through Venetian blinds, alleys cluttered with overflowing bins and loose bin bags, streets, shiny from a layer of rain, with rivers of water running in the gutters: this is the stuff of film noir. The genre that abides by a clear set of rules: have a woman with no past and a hero with no future, use no fiction but pulp fiction, make it any colour as long as its black…and the list of ‘rules’ continues.
Some ’Film Noir’s’ were so low-budget that they were often filmed in just ordinary streets in big cities but the unusual, twisted, complicated storylines often rocketed the films to great success. The victim may become the aggressor, the hunted turns into the hunter; the investigator might also be the victim, or the ‘baddie.’ This goes completely against usual detective stories that have three different characters: the victim, the ‘baddie’, or killer, and the detective. But going against this concept makes a better, more entertaining story and this is exactly what makes film noir’s successful and ‘The Big Heat’ is a classic example of this.