Double Indemnity Essay

736 words - 3 pages

Billy Wilder’s Double Indemnity is one of the best representatives of the film noir era in Hollywood as it contains all the main characteristics of the genre. The general darkness present throughout the movie is embodied in the plot which reveals the moral bankruptcy of the main characters. It is also present in the mise-en-scene choices such as the dark costumes and modest lighting with the great emphasis on shadows. The main character’s voice-over, another important film noir characteristic, brings this darkness to life and communicates it to the audience with brutal honesty. One of the scenes of the film which contains all of these features is the one where the two main characters, Neff ...view middle of the document...

Phyllis is introduced in the next shot. Wilder created a setting which allowed him to place Phyllis on the staircase, physically above Neff. Initially he showed this spatial disproportion using a wide lens and a low camera angle thereby showing Neff at the bottom of the staircase and Phyllis at its top in a single frame. This is followed by a series of shots which follow the conversation between the two and show mid close-ups of Neff looking up to Phyllis and Phyllis looking down to Neff. The respective positions of the two main characters in the give setting give away the influence and the power Phyllis has over Neff just a few seconds after they met. The double-entendre filled dialogue confirms this as well as it confirms that Phyllis is aware of the power she possesses over Neff which gives an indication that she is planning to use, or rather misuse, it. Wrapped in a white towel, instantly suggesting sex appeal, Phyllis is the only well-lit, all in white person in this house of shadows which instantly makes Neff believe in her purity, innocence and vulnerability. This masterful use of...

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