Film Studies

In the clip find the girl from the movie Chinatown(1974) is the scene in which private eye Jake Gittes is meeting Noah Cross for the first time to question his association to the recently murdered Hollis Mulwray.

The scene is shot with one long take using a wide view of the mise en scene. This camera angle allows for the three characters to be viewed within the same frame. The characters are set up in a diagonal line with the servant in the back and Noah Cross in the front making him appear larger. Jake Gittes is in the middle seen sipping on a drink slightly behind Noah. The diagonal view of the characters helps distinguish who to focus on in the take.  The use of natural lighting that shines in through the windows sets up the perfect tone for a first meeting as both characters try and figure out the intentions of the other.

The scene seems harmless as Jake Gittes accepts the offer to find the young girl photographed with the dead Mr. Mulwray. The film consists of direct cuts that fall in chronological order as most crime mysteries do. The dramatic impact could be seen as a form of foreshadowing as both Mr. Gittes sets up his next encounter down at the orange groves. Then for Mr. Cross as he has an ulterior motive for finding the young girl.

In the movie, Chinatown(1974) dialogue is an important element that helps tell the story as the crime mystery unfolds. The sounds of spoken dialogue (or narration by a character in the story), natural sound effects matching sources seen on the screen, and any music that is being performed or heard by characters in the story is called diegetic(Goodykoontz, Jacobs, 1974). Film Noir and the sub-genres of mystery and gangster films often use the natural sounds of the urban city to portray the mythical grittiness of the crimes being committed.

Take the clip Jake likes his nose,  for example as Jake Gittes his trying to explain to Evelyn Mulwray that her husband was murdered. The clip uses the background noises of the city to portray the busy city lifestyle. The sounds seem to echo off the buildings as the car speeds away. The use of this type of background noises is used throughout the film stimulating an urban city. The sound is one of the most overlooked elements of making a movie—and one of the most important(Goodykoontz, Jacobs, 2014).

Crime movies often have a musical element of quick chords leading up to a climactic part of a scene. Establishing movies overall theme can be done with the effective use of sounds to highlight the emotional dramatics of the shot. For many Film Noir movies, the theme of criminal activity and corrupt leaders are at the root of many plots. The loss of innocence and the rise urban circumstances helped shape the genres specific conventions. The setting and scenes throughout the movie Chinatown are filmed with an urban city scape, largely echoing the sounds of car horns and city life. Considering what we learned in Chapter 4, Goodykoontz, Jacobs, (2014) explains, Film noir literally means “black film” in French, and it applies to stories treating dark themes, shady characters, and, more often than not, physically dark settings with much of the action occurring at night. This is seen throughout the movie Chinatown and many critical scenes where the characters exchange dialogue is shot in

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  • Bachelor’s in Journalism
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