Monday, 8 October 2012

The Third Man (1949)

In session, we watched the first opening scenes of The Third Man to show, once again, the effectiveness of the voiceover on that particular scene. I revisited the film and watched a little more to get a more thorough understanding, however stopped because it didn’t continue with voiceover.

From the scenes of the film I saw, I really enjoyed it. Overall, it uses the voiceover in an ‘informal’ style – it almost seems like the narrator is telling this story to a close friend, or making us feel like a close friend to this particular character.

This style makes you feel more comfortable as an audience member, and I feel that it is also used to establish the mise-en-scene of the film – the location, the era, the cultures and the characters. I enjoy the natural conversation style of voiceover, it was more relaxed (it included stutters and restarts) which have cleverly been put together with the edited shots.

One of my favourite things about this style of voiceover is how it is used to create a connection with the footage. For example, the narrator talks about ‘having the money to pay for things’ and a shot (shown below) is presented showing a man handing another some money for some items. Also, at the very beginning, where the narrator introduces the location of the film (Vienna), we’re shown related images and symbols which represent this city – allowing the audience to familiarise themselves with the setting. If the voiceover was used over completely different footage, I feel it would only confuse the audience, because they wouldn’t understand the places they are being told about without being shown them.

It was easy to understand the narrative because the footage and voiceover are cleverly and clearly linked together. Because the voiceover is so ‘laid back’, it makes what he is saying and the mood he’s trying to create believable, making the film itself more successful in the long run.

Even though I didn’t watch the entire film throughout, there were things that I noticed about the film that helped me understand different techniques and their effectiveness. One thing I noticed was the film was in black & white, which I believe is always strong to portray the idea of shadows and dark colours (this is similar to the idea of darkness and danger of the unconscious mind in the experimental film Meshes of the Afternoon by Maya Deren).

Another thing I noticed about this film was that throughout, there was only ever one jump cut (shown below)....:

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