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The importance of visuals and sound cannot be overestimated in movies. They are the methods of emphasizing the key points made by a director. Visual and audio components of a movie are as important as the screenplay and the acting of the most prominent actors and actresses. The movie created by Carol Reed and called The Third Man is the classical example of exploiting visuals as the method of outlining the director’s ideas. Considering the cinematography of The Third Man, the paper is aimed at exploring the lighting and color, the sound, the location, the camera angles, and character’s movement to explain the state of mind of the main character Holly Martins.
Lighting and Color
The main tool used by Reed to make The Third Man look as it looks is the use of black and white filming. The film’s style is noir, so it has to be dark, gray, and grim. The idea was to create the feeling of threat, to increase tension, and sharpen the fears of Holly Martins. The methods of emphasizing the dismal atmosphere in Vienna of that time in the black and white movies are the appropriate lighting and the use of the corresponding hues of black. Thus, the lighting is extensively used to add shadows that symbolize the uncertainty, which should increase suspense. The shadows of boys in the dark street can be used as an example. These shadows are exaggerated and used to intimidate the audience. The director used chiaroscuro lighting to add a noir effect and show that Holly has two sides of the character. He is good and evil at the same time when the shot demonstrates an almost fully dark scene (the dark side of Holly) and the bright spot in it (Holly’s face, his bright side).
The movie’s soundtrack seems something rather unsuitable for such a dark and tense motion picture. It is cheerful, and it has the motives of happiness, which is inconsistent with Holly. It is more associated with the charm of Harry Limes. Non-diegetic sounds are exploited in the movie to present Harry as a good person while his actions show that he has the terrible side of the character as well. Dialogues are supplemented with diegetic sounds, but German dialogues do not have subtitles, which makes the audience feel uneasy in this situation. The power of sound in the movie is used to emphasize the mood and the activities of some character or a scene. It is worth mentioning that the music is produced by a zither, which is important considering the location of the movie set – Vienna.
The post-war Vienna is the setting of the movie. It is depicted as a fractured, hostile, shattered place where the segregation and the black market are rather normal. The scenes in the movie depict streets of Vienna as deserted, sometimes dark, sometimes shiny to show the labyrinth, in which Holly Martins appears. The first scene presented in the movie shows an unglamorous setting that looks unpleasant, dirty, and seems rather isolated. The dead body in the water along with a shipwreck should make the audience fell appropriately and get prepared for the scenes and story that follows next. The overall image of Vienna is very unappealing. It looks like a risky and dangerous place where Holly will have to be.
Camera Angles and Character’s Movement
The work of a cinematographer in The Third Man is an exceptional example of artwork. The movie has a substantial variety of shots that have a particular style and purpose. Lines, tilts, Dutch angles, a variety of perspectives, and many other methods utilized by the professional behind the camera have made this movie so different-looking and unusual. The tilt, for example, is aimed at indicating the confusion of the main character and it is extensively used in the movie as well as lines that make shots two-dimensional, flat, and thus, more vivid and expressive.
High angle shots demonstrate the weaknesses of the character while low angle shots point at something or somebody scary. The confusion of Holly, his unclear and undecided position regarding many things in the movie, and his state of mind are emphasized by the tilts and weird angles, creating unusual perspectives in the shots. Thus, for example, when the train comes too close and becomes bigger and bigger, it should daunt the audience. Holly’s movement in the move is not confident, and it shows the doubts in his mind about many different things he is not sure about anymore. In color, the film would not be that strong in terms of the operator’s work. It can be said that the black and white approach was the only possible to use.
Summing, the paper explored the lighting and color, the sound, the location, the camera angles, and the characters’ movement and explained the state of mind of the main character Holly Martins. Using a style of noir, Reed managed to create a grim, gray-colored movie depicting the main character as the man with a similar state of mind full of inconsistences and weird perspectives on regular things. The famous Dutch angles were used extensively in the movie to emphasize it.