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How is suspense created in the moving image sequence from 'The Untouchables'?

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Introduction

Nida Nagra 10RHY How is suspense created in the moving image sequence from 'The Untouchables'? Having viewed the moving image sequence in 'The Untouchables', I will now analyse the extract and look at how suspense is created. I intend to do this by examining key factors such as camera angles and sound effects. By watching the short extract, it is evident that the film is of the gangster movie genre, and is set in the 1930s. In this extract we are shown Elliot Ness who is a cop, arriving with his partner, Stone at a large station. It becomes apparent that they are there to collect a man known as 'The Book-keeper.' However, they are not successful in doing this, as there is a shoot out at the end of the scene and 'The Book-keeper' is escorted away by someone who we can assume is a gangster. By examination of scene 1, the viewers discover that there are two men, Elliot Ness and Stone in a car. We can tell that the two men are law enforcers, and that Ness is Stone's superior as Stone refers to him as 'sir'. The opening shot of the sequence is a close up shot of first a bonnet of a car, and then a close up shot of a wheel spinning. This was used in the period when this film was made to convey to the audience that people were travelling in a car a long distance. The next shot is a medium close up shot of Stone, which then pans over to Ness in the driver's seat. This is effective in making sure that the viewers focus on Ness and Stone, and are not distracted by the background or the scenery. This also puts across to the viewer that whatever the men are talking about is serious, and needs all their attention. Little colour is used. ...read more.

Middle

Here, a red herring is created, as we are led to believe that this man is definitely 'the Book-keeper'. However, when we see a young woman meet him, embrace him, and then the two of them walking away together, we find that this is untrue, and this man is in fact not 'The Book-keeper', but merely an ordinary man who has come to meet his girlfriend. This is successful in creating even more suspense, as now, the viewers are effectively back to square one and not knowing who 'The Book-keeper' is and what he looks like. As well as creating suspense and anticipation, the audience also feel a sense of discord, that why would as man meat his girlfriend this late at night, and why would a mother and baby be by themselves at this time at night. In this scene the colours used are still very dull, but for the first time, the colour red is introduced. This has an immense impact on the sequence, as red is a colour which signifies danger, blood, and war. The Film Maker could have done this deliberately to convey that there would be danger and blood in the following scene. If this were the case then this would create curiosity in the sense that the viewers would be made curious of when there would be bloodshed and danger. In this scene there is both diegetic and non-diegetic sound. The diegetic sound comes from the baby crying, and from the mother who tries but fails to comfort him. She says ' don't worry darling. We'll be home soon, everything's alright.' This is ironic, as obviously everything will not be all right, as we can tell by the size of the roll of the mother and the baby that they play a large roll in the end. Her words show how oblivious of the pending situation she is, and how vulnerable she and her child are. ...read more.

Conclusion

This accentuates the violence of the shooting. From the close up shots used of the baby previously in the beginning Nida Nagra 10RHY of the sequence, the audience now think of the baby as innocent and cute. If this is the case, then the pram rolling down the stairs creates suspense, as there is shooting going on all around the baby, and we do not know if the 'cute' baby will survive the fall down the stairs, and all the shots form the guns. Slow motion is used so that the pram going down the stairs can take longer, and prolong the tension and suspense felt. As, Ness notices the pram going down the stairs he moves to save it. As he does this, he shoots the gangsters, and miraculously does not get shot once. At this point the facial expression on Ness' face is one of complete determination, which builds up suspense, as the viewers don't know if his determination will pay off, and the baby will be saved. As the pram is going down the stairs and is about to reach the bottom, Ness' bullets run out, and he is stuck with an empty gun. But equilibrium is restored, as Ness' partner Stone runs in, and throws a gun to Ness. At this point there is tension, as the audience wait to see if Ness will catch the gun, or if he will drop it, and be shot dead by a gangster. Ness does catch the gun, and he shoots the last gangster, as Stone slides underneath the pram just in time to stop it hitting the floor. The last shot of the sequence is of the baby smiling and laughing which conveys to the viewers know that he is all right and survived the fall. The music that accompanies this shot is the again the non-diegetic music of the musical box. This music indicates that equilibrium has been restored and everything is all right again. Having viewed and analysed this moving image sequence from 'The Untouchables', it is clear that suspense is created in a detailed and sustained way. ...read more.

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