This paper sought to examine the way the media industry had been portrayed in the novel the Big Ben and even in the movie.In this book, the way the characters play a game against each other while denying certain vital elements of their own personalities results in a fascinating psychological thriller. One of the central character’s George Stroud has been depicted in the light of man who is trying to seek freedom but in unable to do so as a result of a number of activities.
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A psychological thriller, The Big Clock, though not as famous as some films of its genre makes use of some awe-inspiring black and white cinematography that is used throughout film’s length. The convoluted plot and the sharp dialogue allow the viewers to remain glued to the seat, ensnared by a slickly produced film about the modern media industry.
All the elements of such a film are included from a superficial boss who makes use of his authority in order to suppress those working beneath him. This very manipulative and self-obsessed nature is all results of working in such an industry which thrives on the creation and sustenance of such ego-maniacs.
The film centers on an oddity which is repeatedly used throughout the film; a big clock which reads the time around the world. This fixation of the boss; Mr. Earl Janoth, describes the eccentricity of people attached to the media industry.
This very fixation of Janoth becomes the measurement scale for the rest of the characters lives, some who are living in a state of constant fear while others try to seek reasons for a crime.(Meyer 1998)
Another central character of the film, George Stroud, who has been working for the egoistical Janoth for a number of years, finally decides to quit after being forced to give up a long awaited trip with his wife.
And hence, this very act results in a myriad of activities all being timed by the same big clock.The characters all seem to represent the various aspects of an industry which centers on obsessions manipulative characters, the lower depressed working class and the unhappy females who are caught in empty relationships.
George Stroud represents the lower depressed working class who has to sacrifice his personal life for the sake of the professional one.
Seeming to have no control over the way his life progresses, he finally takes the initiative of quitting and follows a period of depression.
The magazine is named “Crimeways” which is ironical considering that the editor himself is a murderer and another escaped fugitive in his own eyes. George Stroud’s inability to divide his personal and professional life becomes the very cause of his downfall, in a way explaining the reason behind the subsequent downfall of a number of media related people in various cases.
George Stroud’s meeting with the unhappy mistress of his boss is depictive of many scenarios in which the women connected to men in the media business have to suffer either from lack of attention, from having to share the man’s attention or simply form their own insecurities.
The mistress of the magazine’s boss suffers from the same state of unhappiness and hence, uses George Stroud as an anchor to get through the night. This very attempt to share each other’s woes and problems results in their biggest problem.
George is portrayed as a man who is suggesting the aftermath of his momentous decision to quite a job which though he was pretty successful at, was unable to exercise the level of control and authority that he should have. (Meyer 1998)
Being a common problem of people in the lower strata’s of the media society, George is represent of the proletariat. A man who is bound the wishes of the boss to the extent that even his much awaited trip has to be cancelled.
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Though, his decision does allow him the personal freedom that he desires -the professional one however, has much to be said about. This very depression results in a night of carousing and when his boss finds out that his mistress has spent the night with another man, kills in her a jealous rage and from then on begins a bizarre turn of events.
The killer seeks evidence that the man that he supposedly saw was the actual killer. George Stroud is summoned back and from then, has to evade attempts to prosecute hi for a crime that he never committed.
The title of the movie is pretty apt as the weapon used to kill the mistress is also a sundial. The “fugitive” is bound by time, has to prove his innocence or else be framed for a murder that he never committed.
If one was to analyze the character of George Stroud, we see a man trapped by many things, circumstances in the case of the murder, his profession which has made him a mere scapegoat and the lack of control over his own life.
This sense of being beholden to a man who is trying to cause his ultimate destruction results in a state of fear , guilt of almost betraying his own wife and at the same time being aware of the consequences of being named as the “unknown” man who the boss’ mistress spend the night with.
Film Critic Bruce Eder wrote
“[The Big Clock] is a near, perfect match for the book, telling in generally superb visual style a tale set against the backdrop of upscale of 1940s New York and offering an early(but accurate) depiction of the modern media industry”.
The innocent man has to face the “gallows” due to the power being in the hands of his boss only. The big clock for him is way to measure the amount of time he as left to prove himself or be prepared for persecution.
The assistant teams of Janoth all represent the power hungry individuals who seek all means to down trod the weaker ones and seek illegal means to prove their own agendas and causes.
The irony of being handed the task of finding the man who the mistress spent the night with, Stroud seeks to disrupt the activities of a super successful sleuth team in order to prevent his own destruction.
The provision of clues and the build of a murder mystery all are norms of an industry which has seen numerous cases of unresolved cases in which the victims; actors, actresses, producers etc, were killed under mysterious circumstances.
In most case, those closest to the person sought ways to down play their connection in order to avoid the responsibly of helping the detectives. This movie sheds light on such a scenario as the actual killer immediately sought ways to prove his own innocence while creating a false claim of a mysterious killer.
The only reason that the urgency was shown to find the actual killer was to remove himself from the murderer’s list. The innocent were falsely blamed in such cases as those being higher up on the power calendar had ways to remove themselves quite cleverly from the reach of justice.
The mute aide of Janoth, Henry Morgan, appears as a character who makes Stroud constantly aware of the tenacious hold that he has over his life right now. Henry Morgan, however, himself does not seem too favorable towards his boss as if disapproving of the nefarious actions that his boss has engaged in.
Stroud finds himself trapped by the big clock, constantly aware of the people who are looking for him. The big clock which is present in the building presents the personality of Janoth himself; menacing and deadly.
A presence which times the time of freedom that Stroud has while at the same time measuring the amount of time that he does not have to prove his innocent.
The big clock therefore, has been used to represent the thread which ties all of us down and which does not allow man the freedom that he so rightly desires. The rhythm of the clock represents the marching tone to which we all have to march irrelevant of whatever we actually think about the tone itself.
Even Stroud finds himself losing control over this very rhythm as he sees time slipping by while he is simply standing helpless on the side. He is unable to deny his involvement as that very denial becomes the cause for his downfall. Even though Stroud does consider himself, to be a man who makes his own decisions and a free man in that sense, he is equally tied as us all.
The pincher claws and the grinding gears of the big clock have caught Stroud in their midst and from him there seems to be no hope. Hence, the movie represents vital elements of the media industry while at the same portraying the extent to which a man can be beholden to circumstances created by himself and by circumstances themselves.
List of References
Meyer,D (1998).” A Girl and a Gun: The Complete Guide to Film Noir on Video.” Avon Books.