Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Just a Touch of Evil

I'm not sure how to feel about this film. It had the usual racist and sexist components of Hollywood films of the time, which are still hard for me to get around sometimes, depending on the film. The fact that Charlton Heston played the main lead who was intended to be Mexican really irked me, more than I thought it would.
In terms of cinematic structure, I was really impressed with how most shots in the film were long shots, making for some really interesting takes. What I actually liked most about the film were the camera angles, the long takes, and the use of sound and visual cues. The scene where Orson Welles, the main antagonist, kills the little Mexican dude has some great camera angles. This scene also exemplifies the great use of sound throughout homework. A lot of horror movies use music as a crutch to create dramatic tension and instill fear in the viewer. This movie had ridiculous music playing half the time, which let the plot and tension happen naturally, which I found to be very effective.
The long takes created sort of a play format. Because the acting and dialogue was so pronounced and contrived (as many 50s movies are), all of these elements helped to shape this film into a sort of play. The cinematic touches and elements made this film as famous as it is, in my opinion. The characters and dialogue are pretty flat and forced.
I'm going to use the word steretype now. This movie had mad Mexican stereotypes, and the only Mexican character that wasn't shady was Charlton Heston. Any movie with Charlton Heston makes me question the merit of that particular film. I also found that based on the dialogue from the white people, the way Mexicans were depicted wasn't particularly cutting edge or pushing the limits of the way people thought about different cultures, it had to be just perpetuating the collective mentality about foreigners, which is still sadly very prominent in America today.


Jon said...

Rose, in fact most of the takes were not long takes... beyond the very first one, which is one reason why that stands out. Indeed, if anything what's evident in the film is rather quick cutting between different scenes.

Nor were they particularly long shots, although we do get something of Welles's trademark deep focus, in which we have both the foreground and the background of the mise en scène crucial to the action.

Carolinitiquitica said...

I also expected to see more Mexican people in the movie and more dialogue about Mexico or development on the idea of mexicanidad as we have seen in the other movies. However, this movie is special in that it looks at Mexico as a nation in relation with another country. The movie represents the state of Mexico, it border problems but not its people or their culture.