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The Big Heat

  • Date Submitted: 03/12/2010 12:41 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 58.7 
  • Words: 2743
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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?’
When the woman, who we later know as...

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