straight down the line

A Close Eye on Double Indemity

For this week’s “Watch some films” assignment, the choices were between Double Indemnity, The Big Lebowski, and Blade Runner.

I have already seen Lebowski and Blade Runner, and am actually meant to be studying Double Indemnity right now for my film class. That paired with my fondness for Billy Wilder made it easy: I would examine the film Double Indemnity (Billy Wilder, 1944).

Double indemnity is absolutely dripping with elements of noir. Given that the screenplay was based on┬áJames M. Cain’s 1943 crime novel with the same title, and given that the film is usually refered to as the first film noir, this is not surprising.

The film incorporates the design element of space in a menacing way.

Spacing in this movie is clearly used to create a tight, inescapable atmosphere for the characters. Each shot looks as though it has been squeezed for effect.

double indemity

This shot, while slightly obscured by a media player, is an excellent example of lack of space in Double Indemnity. It’s almost as though the camera and surrounding objects are acting as one godlike force, watching the characters closely.

I would also like to briefly mention the way each shot in the film is composed vertically the shot above can serve as an example of this as well. The items in the market are all stacked on top of each other, all towering over the characters. This happens in practically every shot of the film, and is another example of the intended effect of the menace of Los Angeles the environment itself is much larger and taller than the characters trapped within.


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