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The Untouchables

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Introduction

How does De Palma create and sustain tension and excitement for his audience in the station scene for 'The Untouchables'? Throughout De Palma's career, he has spent time exploring the idea of corruption from within. De Palma has examined the ideas of power and justice in previous films such as; Blow Out, Scarface and The Bonfire of the Vontities. This theme is carried out throughout The Untouchables. During the motion picture, De Palma uses a number of film techniques to create tension and excitement throughout. The climax reaches its height in the station scene. When the scene opens, the audience is immediately faced with a feeling of anticipation, as a car drives at high speed along the road. It weaves in and out of the traffic with its horn blazing. This opening sequence is followed by the camera panning in to show a close up the speeding car wheel. This shot is super ceded by the camera slowly moving up to reveal the two inhabitants; Ness and Stone. The use of lighting in films is very important and can easily set the mood for a scene. For example, the time of day can be established by the quantity of light. During the car scene, De Palma uses lighting to effect. The lighting inside the car is subtle; with only the faces lightly illuminated, making sure that the audience are fully concentrated on Ness and Stone and what they have to say. Stone and Ness appears detached, as if they are anxious to get some where. ...read more.

Middle

The music fits in with this feeling, with slight increases in volume followed by quiet. The music seeps away as the man becomes no threat. De Palma is a clever film maker. He cleverly takes certain things from different films and fits them into his films. This is what sets De Palma apart from many film makers. The constant checking of the time and the fact that is moving towards noon, is in reference to the film 'High Noon,' in which the penultimate part of the film (as in 'The Untouchables') is when the clock strikes twelve. The merge of the films is rammed home by the constant camera shots of the clock, as if waiting for it to stick at twelve. This anticipation both sustains and creates tension and excitement for the audience. Another thing that De Palma does to make this scene different is the fact that the scene is in real time - everything occurs on screen in the time span of the scene. De Palma's constant use of camera shots easily shows where Ness's concentration lies. It becomes very obvious that Ness is caught between two sides, the obvious need to carry out his duty and his moral duty; should he help the woman? Of course, these feelings are perceived by the audience, they too undergo the same dilemma. This feeling grows to frustration and heightened tension as yet more people pass and still no-one offers the woman any assistance. As Ness looks down on the woman in dismay, the audience are reminded that he himself is a family man. ...read more.

Conclusion

'Take him,' Ness says it as if it is nothing to him, followed by the load bang of the gun. 'Two,' Stone says very calmly (blackly humorous), with a reaction shot of the gangster slowly falling to the floor. Immediately the orchestra play, still with the same eeriness as the bookkeeper looks down at his ex-comrade. The load click of Stone re-cocks his gun, now all tension is with the bookkeeper. The scene finishes on Ness; stern and impassive. The audience now are relieved of all anxiety, for justice has prevailed. What has De Palma shown us? Justice wins, in the wake of injustice and corruption, tying in with De Palma's theme of corruption from within. Ness has done whatever was necessary, even if it was not 'by the book' as he was primarily so steadfast in doing. Most importantly De Palma has shown his skilfulness in directing, using a variety of camera angles to create different cinematic experiences. He also uses camera angles to provoke different emotions from the audience. His usage of sound, music and lighting has successfully been employed to formulate tension and excitement. He uses various editing styles to show the audience just how well he can make and produce a film, as well as influencing his audience in the way he wishes to; to feel worried, afraid, tense or excitement and relieved. In all De Palma has managed to show in one scene the following; how skilful a director he is, his knowledge of films, his ability to take things from previous films and make them his own, also how he can influence an audience into feeling what he wants them to. 1 By Matthew Singh ...read more.

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