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The Third Man Movie Review

Essay by   •  April 23, 2011  •  Book/Movie Report  •  1,132 Words (5 Pages)  •  1,402 Views

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The Third Man was directed by Carol Reed in 1949. It was shot on location in Vienna. It is a film that is greatly concerned with the effects that a wrecked post-war city has on its inhabitants. Shot on location in the bombed out streets of post-war Vienna, the city and the soundtrack become supporting characters in this tale of bitterness and woe. The effects of economic and social corruption are endemic on the population of Vienna, a once great European city, famous for its beauty and history, now shabby and distorted (Graham 99). Doubtless, it is one of the most glorious films which reflected a chaotic reality.

The Third Man was granted an everlasting success throughout the history of film. Its fame was not only spread by fascinating audiences with thrilling music and twisted plot, but largely due to a bunch of shooting techniques. Here by using a technical term we usually call it cinematography which was a major point while examining films. For such a reason, we say it is a brilliantly filmed black and white morality tale where nothing is as it seems and everyone has something to hide (Mark 96). This paper, then discusses how these expert and subtle techniques are related to the demonstration of morality across the whole story that the director intended to show us.

The central theme of The Third Man is war and its negative effects on society. With Carol Reed breaking new ground in this movie, the way light and shadow play across the screen is truly brilliant. The juxtaposition of the city both beautiful and bombed out is not lost on the viewer. The city becomes another character, attractive in the light of day, but with a dark side that at night. The final chase sequence through the sewers is wonderfully shot, exciting and terrifying all at the same time. He uses canted camera angles, physical barriers, and the background of a torn apart post-war Vienna to develop the 'noir' feel. The Third Man is a classic example of the perfect use of that medium to exhibit and evoke mood and emotion with a mere shadow (Spencer 77).

The use of the black and white style in The Third Man, takes this theme a step further by the interplay between the 'seen' and the 'unseen.' Often, a significant segment of the scene is left hidden behind the scenes or simply in the dark. We are aware that at any given moment what we see is only part of the picture and that what meets the eye is not necessarily a credible reflection of reality (Shulamit 178). The gloomy aura of the genre, therefore, is achieved not only because its themes evolve around disillusion, but because the human condition is represented as something we can see only partially and, even then, not in bright colors, but in dim light (Shulamit 195).

What another point brings is that of sarcasm; also, an exaggerated sense of one's own importance, regardless of the needs of others. In this sense the film is highly ethical, it probes the relationship of good and evil and the result of the absence of ethical boundaries (Mark 101). From the moment the film begins, with scenes of an occupied, war-torn city filled with scoundrels and black marketers, it is clear that this will not be a happy journey. It is a story filled with darkness and evil that leaves no one unscathed especially its lead character, an optimistic American writer (Holly Martins)looking for a chance to start a new life. In the end, he gets exactly that, but the experience was far from what he was hoping for.

The devastation of both the city and the moral decadence of its people are apparent at every level of this film. Images of fear, helplessness and hopelessness flood the film, creating an impression

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