The movie, “The Night of the Hunter” directed by Charles Laughton’s in 1955 is unique because of it’s lyric and expressionistic style from other movies of that era. Taking place in West Virginia, a married man named Harper is arrested for robbing a bank for $10,000 and killing two people. He scurries home to hide the money inside his daughters doll and makes her and her brother John to never tell anyone where it is and that it is theirs when they are old enough to use it. While in jail, Harper meets a man named Powell whom he shares his cell with. After his execution – Powell becomes determined to woo his widowed wife and steal the money. However as the story progresses, Harper’s wife Willa becomes convinced that he was only in the relationship for the money. After her discovery, Powell kills her and tries pressuring the kids into revealing where it is with no success. Eventually a stand off occurs between Powell and a woman named Rachel Cooper who doesn’t trust him and he is arrested, and then sentenced to death.
There are many cinematography scenes in this movie that help convey the mood of horror. In addition to the cinematography, the fact that the film is in black and white I believe helps stress the menacing and maniac characteristics of Powell. One of my favorite scenes was when the DOP captured a street lamp casting Powell silhouette as a shadow on the walls in the children bedroom. In the first image, we see Powell’s daunting head largerand at a higher level than John’s strongly suggesting the boys fear. Another scene that contains expressionistic elements is when the Preacher tries to chase John and Pearl up the stairs conveying a sense of horror and humor after he trips falls, and catches his fingers in a door. This so far has to be one of my favorite expressionism films I’ve seen because of the imagery and unlike The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari it was filmed in America and is easier to relate to. In hindsight of this movie composition and mood defiantly struck out the most to me as a viewer. Also, the strong horror elements I believe made it difficult for the audience of the time to appreciate these expressionistic elements.
The Night of the Hunter. Dir. Charles Laughton. Perf. Robert Mitchum, Shelley
The movie Juno, directed and written by Diablo Cody is about a young girl who becomes pregnant at sixteen. Unlike most teens that become pregnant she ends up deciding that she would rather have the baby and give it up for adoption rather than aborting it. This decision isn’t easy for her. I’m going to talk about the non-verbal forms of communication and editing of the movie. One of the scenes I noticed where this is exemplified is when Mark’s wife Vanessa meets Juno for the first time. Prior to her and Juno’s Dad meeting with them, Vanessa organizes her house by setting flowers, and cleaning the house. She does this in order to give off a good first impression showing her eagerness to have the baby. Because Mark doesn’t do this it foreshadows that he is not as much invested in his relationship with his wife and into the child that they will be adopting. I can relate to this because I always try to give off good impressions to friends and family members whether thru my appearance or where I’m living. Another example of non-verbal communication I noticed was when Juno announced to Pauli and her parents about her pregnancy. When she tells Paulie – he is shocked and his facial expression shows how off guard he was when he was about to go running. His fellow joggers run by him on the road and he looks at them and his expression shows the viewer that he wishes he could just run. Her parents are even more devastated with the announcement when they are silenced in disbelief for a couple seconds.
Editing and film form helps establish the turning point when Juno decides to keep her baby occurs when she goes to the abortion clinic. Just before she goes into the abortion clinic she sees a girl named Su-Chin who is protesting against abortion. Once inside, she is greeted with a standoffish secretary who gives her paperwork. A pattern of camera cuts, and Juno’s facial expression portrays her change of mind in not aborting the baby to the viewer. Ways the director does this is by having her notice the actions of other people in the abortion clinic. The sounds of people biting of the nails, applying nail polish, and scratching themselves with the increasing size of the frame where Juno is sitting accompanied with a quick cut of Su-Chin in the parking lot helps us feel Juno’s own instability at this crucial narrative moment. After the whole ordeal after having the baby – there is a low camera angle shot of Juno riding on her bicycle showing her triumph and revealing a sense of empowerment.