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Inherit The Wind Character Development Of Matthew And Sarah Brady

1310 words - 5 pages

Inherit the Wind - Character Development of Matthew and Sarah Brady


Films with intense legal themes generally present very dry, professional characters with occasional moments of character development. In the film Inherit the Wind, the head legal counsel for the prosecution, Matthew Harrison Brady, first appears as a dynamic man of the people. He and his wife, Sarah, seem to be a perfect couple in the spotlight of American politics. Both characters wear broad smiles, walk tall and proud, and sport conservative, yet fashionable attire. Sarah proudly applauds in support of her husband as he addresses the town of Hillsboro as their lead prosecutor. However, the director and screenwriter of the film continue to develop the Bradys as a couple with a long history full of emotion and love. In the scene entitled "Rachel Visits the Bradys," the characters of Matthew and Sarah Brady emerge as not only a political power couple, but as two very emotionally connected people.


The director, Stanley Kramer, uses lighting, sound, and costuming in the character development of Matthew and Sarah Brady. These staging techniques accentuate the intense dialogue between Sarah and Rachel Brown, the preacher's daughter, and between Sarah and Matthew. In this scene, Rachel pays a visit to the Brady's hotel room to confront Matthew about his decision to put her on the witness stand against Bertram Cates. Instead of speaking with Matthew, Rachel and Sarah have a powerful exchange. Matthew then enters, half asleep, to hear Rachel exclaim that she is no longer a child. After Rachel's exit, Sarah and Matthew discuss the case, Matthew's integrity, and their relationship. As the conversation progresses, specific lighting and sound draw the audience's attention to dramatic reactions or revealing exclamations.


The scene opens on the Bradys' dark hotel room. A strong, loud knock on the door commences the action. Sarah Brady emerges from her bedroom into the darkness and then turns on the light. The extinguishing of darkness is a symbol of emerging truth. Kramer uses this technique repeatedly; all trial scenes are filmed in bright light while the community prayer gathering that breaks down into accusation is in the dark. Scenes that include the revelation of information or ideas include bright light. In contrast, scenes that display narrowness of thought are in darkness. The rest of this scene is filmed in bright light to foreshadow revelations presented by Rachel or Sarah about their feelings towards their loved ones and their roles in the Cates trial.


After Sarah turns on the light and welcomes Rachel into the room, sound and volume of their voices become an important part of their conversation. Sarah, initially, reminds Rachel that Matthew is asleep in the next room and suggests that their voices be lowered. However, by the end of her conversation with Rachel, Sarah's voice reaches high volumes as...

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