Chinatown

The sequence I have chosen begins when Jack walks into the house. This sequence is definitely typical of its genre, it had all of the correct generic signifiers a film noir should have.

The lighting is typical film noir, serpia tones and shadows reflecting different moods. The iconography is correct in the sense that he is wearing an over dressed suit, showing power and he keeps his hat on that he is wearing because this is a true film noir icon of a private detective.

We Will Write a Custom Essay Specifically
For You For Only $13.90/page!


order now

The camera leads into the house through Jakes eyes so that I immediately see the room in darkness apart from a pile of suitcases and luggage in front of him, illuminated with light to emphasise the fact that they are leaving somewhere in a hurry. This camera effect gives me a sense of unknowing what to expect and adds a feeling of vulnerability as a viewer because it makes you feel you are the person walking into that house. All you can see is what the camera shows, so it keeps me on the edge of my seat not knowing what will happen or what he will find.

Next he sits down on the sofa and she is standing looking over him like a more dominant character suggesting that she knows something he does not. This makes him look slightly vulnerable adding suspicion to the audience because it is unclear what will be happening next. Behind him there are typical film noir shadows, these shadows are cluttered adding to the mood of confusion. The shadows also half cover his face, this suggests that he does not know all of the truth, where as she has a lighter frame showing that she knows the truth or reality better than he does. At this point I was beginning to believe that she was the femme fatale of the film, as I felt this would make it a true film noir, and I was not really siding with her because like Jack I felt left in the shadows, not knowing the truth. This for me added great suspense and excitement when I found out this was not the case at all.

The both of them smoke cigarettes as well, which is true iconography of film noir again specifying it as this particular genre. It also shows they feel under stress, the smoke produced adds to the hidden truth because it clouds everything over so things are seen through a curtain of smoke and not seen clearly.

She will not tell him what he wants to hear when he asks her questions and she starts getting defensive so he slaps her round the face. This is definitely not expected because it is not the usual gentleman like thing to do and she is stunned by it making the audience feel slight sympathy for her. The fact that he slaps her again and again shocked me further and I really felt for her when he pushed her into the wall and she hit her head, this kept me watching to see what the reactions will be and the violence stimulated a sense of protection for the woman. When she gets hysterical and he is out of the shot his hands come into the shot and grab her wrists to calm her down, this motion is quick and dominating again giving her vulnerability but also another sign of his violence that was once hidden from me and the audience. I particularly like this bit because he comes across as strong and harmful and this is the first glimpse I got that she is not a femme fatale.

This part particularly affected me out of the whole film because it was a big twist. Jack had been nice all of the way through the film, especially to her and there was no streak of violence shown by him at all. For him to just lose control out of the blue like that provoked great shock to me because it definitely was not expected. It completely changed my opinion on him, especially when I found out about the truth of her and her father raping her because I felt Jack and acted too harshly on her.

After this has happened the whole typical film noir features change when I as the audience find out that she is not the femme fatale but the victim of a malicious rape that has resulted in her getting pregnant by her own father. The truth is now revealed to me. The girl she has been hiding is not someone that she wanted to kill or hide on purpose but her own daughter and sister. When she explains this she does not come straight out with the fact that she was raped but tells Jack that the girl is both her sister and her daughter, when she tells him this the camera looks down on her as if vulnerable, like how she must have felt when she was raped. This creates sympathy on her part and excites me because I was left unknowing what Jacks reaction would be to all of this and whether or not he would believe what she was tying to tell him.

I thought everything was explained now but I was completely wrong when at the end of this sequence she turns round to Jack and tells him the glasses he had found do not belong to her husband. The camera cuts to an ECU of Jacks face, he is in a lighter frame now, which makes me question whether he now knows the truth or has worked something out from what she has just told him.

Overall, this sequence holds a great amount of pleasure for me because it has so much suspense and excitement involved in it, and still keeps to the same guidelines as film noir with its generic features. The fact that the sequence has the big story twist in it makes me enjoy it more because it was totally unexpected and kept me “on the edge of my seat” all of the way through, constantly trying to guess what would happen next.