Thursday, June 4, 2015

#NoirSummer : Daily Dose of Darkness 2

A film takes us on a journey, often from point A to B to C, but not always. This opening scene drops us into the action in progress-no orienting of location or to character.  The engineers are mostly wordless, performing their difficult, dirty work by habit and by gesture. No immaculate sound set and perfectly coiffed hair here-this is where the word "gritty" gets applied to noir.  The men are sooty, the fire smokes. Just as the train's progress seems inexorable, so too does the sound design. The racket is deafening-the men couldn't have a conversation if they wanted to. And the shriek of the train whistle!

This film does not whisk us away to some fantasy where every barista is adorable with a giant NYC apartment, but rather sets us firmly in the real world of hard work. (See also Italian neorealism *name drop*)
The camera attached to the side of the train gives the viewer the feeling of clinging on like a bug.  We get no comfy seat inside, but rather we ride in the "danger zone" where we can sense the speed of the train and the danger of being plunged into darkness.  I was sorry to be watching the clip on my computer rather than in a dark theater for the shot in the tunnel!
And then, finally, after having our nerves rattled by the sound, the speed, and the darkness, the train slows and pulls into the station.  We finally have a signpost-Le Havre.  But where is everybody?  The silence is deafening.

No comments: