The micro elements of a Touch of Evil

This film noir was set on the border of Mexico and California back in the late fifties. You can tell this by the music that is being played throughout the movie. Ramon Vargas is a detective from Mexico that has just recently married. His wife’s name is Susan and she ends up getting mixed up with in all of the problems that is going on. We see that this car passes the border and as soon as it does it blows up. Ramon and his wife hear the explosion and they run over to see what it was. As they are doing this they run past this barn and this is when they use a great deal of shadowing.

Well Ramon has to get to the bottom of what happened so he tells his new wife to go back to the hotel and he will be there shortly. This is when things get a little crazy. Susan is stopped by a bunch of Mexican men and asked to come with them and that they could help her husband. She goes and gets really mixed up with all of this mess. Soon she finds her self being followed and watched by some men. While she was in the kitchen of the hotel she takes out the light bulbs so that they cannot see her. Her husband comes home and wonders why she is sitting in the dark.

She is ready to leave this place and wants to go home. Ramon wants to finish his business so he says he will take her to a different hotel where she can get some rest and he will be there in just a few short hours. Once she is there she cannot sleep. For one she was being followed the whole time by Poncho but he got arrested. Poncho’s people end up kidnapping Susan and drugging her and taking her back to Mexico and framing her for the murder of Poncho. Well Ramon knew better than this, it was the corrupt cop and he was going to get him for this.

Well then the good American cop came to Ramon and told him what really happened and they wanted to frame him to get his wife out of jail. That is what they did. They sent the good cop out to talk to the bad cop and had him confess everything. When he did confess this they had it all on videotape. Throughout the film A Touch of Evil you will find harsh lighting. This style of production is characterized with many films from the early genre of film known as “film noir”. A Touch of Evil is considered to be the last true film of this type.

A touch of evil utilizes many effects that make a film noir what it is. The effect that categorizes it as being film noir is the harsh lighting combined with low camera angles. One of the most dominant effects used in the production of this film includes the crane shot. A crane shot, where the camera sweeps vertically and horizontally during the shot. In this particular film the opening scene utilizes the crane shot extends for four blocks from start to finish. This sets the mood by giving the audience their impression of the shoddy town in which the movie takes place.

This effect in A Touch of Evil is considered to be one of the most famous opening scenes in film history. This opening scene was also used in movies such as Jackie Brown. The lighting in this film is also used to emphasise the good and evil roles of the story. For instance the Mexican boys who are following Vargas (Charlton Heston) in the beginning are shown in dim lighting to give them a mysterious and maybe threatening look about them The producer uses sinister dark camera angles at all times. This gives the viewer the feeling that the character is being spied upon.

Also there are many extreme close-ups or “eye level shots” that show, greasy, sweaty composition of the characters, making you feel like you are one foot away. The camera distance was usually up close and in the face, or far enough away to give you a good feel for the environment while capturing all the characters in the scene. The film was originally shot in colour. When the film was redone the producers decided to change the format to black and white. This not only gives us a better feel for the time in which the film is supposed to take place, but it also enhances the lighting effects.

Some argue that the original producer (Wells) who also plays the character Hank Quinlan plays a character in his films that is somewhat symbolic of how he may feel about himself inside as I found out from various Internet sites. The film was filled with many great effects. The effects achieved in this film stand as a cornerstone of the crane effects for many recent films. Some of today’s producers such as Quentin Tarrintino try to mimic these effects. The camera angles used in this film are classic film noir shots like the use of shadows on the villains faces combined with the varied close-ups.

The editing of the film is very quick and seamless to give a fast paced story line keeping the audience hooked on the film. As I said before the music sets the time period very well giving the audience an immediate clue to the era it is set in. The clip of film I have chosen I think has fulfilled the five categories of micro elements. Camera Angles I have chosen the first ten minutes of Touch Of Evil as it contains numerous camera angles which made Orson Wells famous. The best one being the crane shot which starts from the beginning showing the car and tracking it through the town showing the theatres and how generally bad the town is.

The camera pans upwards to the crane shot giving a feeling of insignificance to the car, which just promotes the fact when it blows up. When the car blows up a hand cam is used amongst the crowd to give a feeling of panic as the crowd are running from everywhere at you. Misc en Scene As the film was set in the fifties they promote this by the many cinemas, old style theatres which are all the way down the boardwalk. The clothes are significant as well as the audience can tell a lot about a person before they even talk.

One example would be, the first “bad guy” you see smokes and is wearing a leather jacket a stereotypical view of a “bad guy” upon which society has taught us to see. Also anyone important wears a hat all the detectives do e. g. Vargas and also the celebrity cop who works in the town and feels he owns it . Sound The sound gives away the time period as well and the most dominant use of sound in my clip is the ticking and speeding up of music to give a almost overdramatised effect on the audience making them feel the impending doom.