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Film Noir: The Maltese Falcon Essay

1012 words - 4 pages

Film Noir was extremely trendy during the 1940’s. People were captivated by the way it expresses a mood of disillusionment and indistinctness between good and evil. Film Noir have key elements; crime, mystery, an anti-hero, femme fatale, and chiaroscuro lighting and camera angles. The Maltese Falcon is an example of film noir because of the usage of camera angles, lighting and ominous settings, as well as sinister characters as Samuel Spade, the anti-hero on a quest for meaning, who encounters the death of his partner but does not show any signs of remorse but instead for his greed for riches.
All throughout The Maltese Falcon the camera angles change with the character. Camera angles and lighting affected the mood of the scene; scenes in which contained more mystery had additional shade and distortion of the lenses and hard lighting to create ominous shadows, among the characters. By creating depth in the scene and tilting the camera angle so that images were portrait, gave the impression of more events were taking place then actually were. Lighting was abnormal with neon lighting in the background and dull lamp light in the foreground, which in turn created it unable to get a clear picture of the situation. As well as background and foreground lighting, there was lighting that would only highlight specific objects, such as the Maltese Falcon, when it was being unwrapped. In some scenes camera angle would be slightly higher than the characters or shown through the characters eyes, the lighting would be underneath the character, not allowing the audience to see their full facial expressions. Lighting and camera angles played a huge role in creating the mystery in Film Noir.
The Maltese Falcon’s settings are dim, claustrophobic, and gloomy. All settings had minimalist lighting. Most clips that were taken outdoors were city night scenes with profound shadows, wet asphalt and sidewalks, dark alleyways, and light coming from flashing neon signs on buildings and street lamps. There were only a few inhabitants on the sidewalks at one point in time; creating a deserted and mystifying scene; when characters walked on the rain-slicked ground, their footsteps could be hear echoing through the vacant city. When the characters were not outside they were in shabby and dimly lit apartments and hotel rooms. Spade spent the majority of his time in hotel rooms and apartments gathering his information about the Maltese Falcon, by visiting the people who knew anything about the falcon. The eerie settings added to the mystery of where the falcon could be.
The Maltese Falcon contained many different types of characters. Spade was a protagonist. While on the other hand Kasper Gutman, Joel Cairo, and Wilmer were antagonists and Brigid O’Shaughnessy was a femme fatale. Each of the characters portrays characteristics of Film Noir.
Spade is known as an anti-hero, “a protagonist who lacks the attributes that make a heroic figure, as nobility of mind and spirit, a life...

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