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Power, An Essay On The Film Chinatown

908 words - 4 pages

PowerSometimes people in a relationship do not grasp their powerlessness in comparison toother parties . Often, in these cases, objective outsiders can see even though those involvedappear to be blind. In the Chinatown scene where Jake Gittes and Noah Cross have lunchtogether, the director reveals for the viewer the balance of power between the two. Mr. Gittes isa private investigator and therefore derives his power from uncovering the secrets of others. Thisscene establishes Cross's power to the viewer while making Gittes feel he himself is empoweredbecause he feels he knows all of Mr. Cross's secrets.Mr. Gittes feels he has the upper hand because he believes he knows all of Mr. Cross'ssecrets. When Mr. Gittes tells Cross that Evelyn believes her husband was murdered, Mr. Crossasks "Umm, how'd she get that idea?" The hesitation between the "Umm" and the rest of thequestion is noticeable. To Gittes, this hesitation makes Cross appear guilty leading him to suspectMr. Cross in the murder. When the topic of Mulwray's murder comes up, Mr. Cross becomesinquisitive about the investigation. He wants to know what "the police say." He also wants toknow if the chief investigator, Lt. Escobar, is a "capable man." Both of these are questions aboutthe investigation, the answers to which could allow Mr. Cross to make a reasonable assessment asto whether he may be caught. Mr. Cross then asks whether the Lt. is an honest man , implyingthat Mr. Cross may be interested in paying him off, something that is certainly a possibilitybecause Mr. Cross is wealthy. Later in the conversation, Mr. Gittes asks Mr. Cross when was thelast time he (Mr. Cross) spoke with Mr. Mulwray. Mr. Cross pretends not to remember, andthinking he has the upper hand, Mr. Gittes refreshes his memory, telling Mr. Cross he hasphotographic evidence of their meeting. This is something that Mr. Cross wanted to keep fromMr. Gittes, hence the lie. At this point in the conversation, Mr. Cross is standing up lookingoutside with his back to Mr. Gittes who is sitting down behind him. The viewer sees Mr. Cross'sface and Mr. Gittes's back. When Mr. Gittes says that he knows yet one more of Mr. Cross'ssecrets, the viewer cannot see Mr. Gittes's face. Initially, this might lead to the feeling that Mr.Gittes is omnipotent: the all-knowing and all-powerful voice in the background.This scene shows Noah Cross's power. When Mr. Gittes pulls up to Mr. Cross'scomplex, there are a large group of people standing in front of his car with Mr. Cross in thecenter. This group looks like a formidable posse and immediately makes Mr. Cross appearpowerful because he has control over this group of strong looking men....

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