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Law Abiding Citizen Film Noir Film Studies Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Film Studies
Wordcount: 1011 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Law Abiding Citizen is an action thriller film directed by F. Gary Gray from a screenplay written by Kurt Wimmer, starring Jamie Foxx and Gerard Butler. The film tells the story of a man, Clyde Shelton , who decides to take revenge as enraged “citizen” on prosecutor, Nick Rice, who is involved in the “deal” that he made with the murderer and rapist of his wife and daughter. Law Abiding Citizen was released in theaters on October 16, 2009 and is rated R for brutal violence and torture, rape, and ubiquitous language.

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Film noirs tend to revolve around heroes who are more flawed and morally questionable than the norm. The stark light/dark contrasts and dramatic shadow patterning is demonstrated by the invasion scene to Clyde’s house. Other devices of disorientation relatively common in film noir include shots of people as seem through the bars or rails creating distortion in original image of interest which might be done to prepare the viewer to discover false suspensions towards the protagonist. Unstable relationship between protagonist and his society can be expected to end as the act of failure from the side of main character, and for display there are included shots with special effects sequences of a sometimes bizarre nature.

The scene ‘Don’t even twitch’ shows Clyde awaiting the police, he has the plan, he is calm and relaxed. He slowly undresses, and by the time police breaks into his house, Clyde is standing naked, his hands are crossed behind the head, providing no evidence of suspense or guilt. Film noirs tended to use low-key lighting schemes producing stark light/dark contrasts and dramatic shadow patterning. That is what the viewer notice in this scene, the dark shape and outline of Clyde visible against a lighter background in dim light. The moment the government forces break the door to get to the house without warning, the bright light from the outside expands its rays to the dark room presenting the audience with dark silhouette or an iconic visual of top part of Clyde’s body. Film noirs tend to revolve around heroes who are more flawed and morally questionable than the norm. As the scene demonstrates, the camera quickly revolves around Clyde to capture the elements of his facial expression and body calmness. Film noir is also known for its use of wide-angle lenses, and in this scene the audience notices the body of Clyde in front of the camera, following busy agents on the background fading in the bright light trying to get to the main character.

Later scene appears in jail where prosecutor, Mr. Rice, is waiting for confession to be made by Clyde. Here, the scene opens with Clyde sitting behind the vertical bars of metal doors which is relatively common in film noir to include shots of people reflected in one or more mirrors, shots through the bars, trees, blinds or other distorting objects. As the camera gets closer to get the shot of both Clyde and Mr. Rice, the wide shot consists of the characters; however, the interesting element of the shot is actually the background, which consists of vertical bars of metal of dark shade and white, long, horizontal lines of light tubes which are behind the vertical rails. Symbolically, crime, usually murder, is an element of almost all film noirs. in addition to standard-issue greed, jealousy is frequently the criminal motivation. The crime investigation often involves false suspicions and accusations of crime which are frequent plot elements, as are betrayals and double-crosses. Here Mr. Rice questions Clyde, and based on the responses he got, our prosecutor assumes that Clyde has actually confessed his guilt in murders he committed. However, with cleaver explanations of Clyde’s view on the issue, “…what you know is not what you can prove in court”, which highlights the point of deceitful charges.

The main theme is generalization of the weak relationship between the protagonist, Clyde, and his society, government and law reinforcement agenesis. The main characters suffer either from powerlessness or from loss of community. As mentioned earlier, Clyde lost his family and no justice showed interest to heel his wounds. Mr. Rice made a deal with the murderer of Clyde’s family, while Clyde saw unfair hand shake of ‘law’ and ‘criminal’. The noir narrative confronts the protagonist with a recognition that apparent normality is actually the opposite of what it seems to be: it is brutal rather than civilized. The closing scene shows the audience the cruel act of the Mr. Rice who is intuitively recognizes faults of Clyde. Clyde caught himself into the trap of his own design which is relatively common in film noir to include shots with special effects sequences of a sometimes bizarre nature. The combination of dark outline of Clyde’s body is surrounded by the bright flame; however, the characteristics of Clyde’s face pronounce satisfaction toward achievement of his acts.

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Film noir introduces the audience with the combination of light and dark features of the shots which are being reflected on the characters. As demonstrated, the dark silhouette of Clyde visible against a lighter background in dim light the moment the government authorities break the door open letting the bright light in. The screening strategies of disorientation in the background may prepare the viewer to expect suspensions done towards the protagonist as presented in the confession scene. Also the generalization of the main character and his present surroundings gives hints to the outcome of the situation which includes shots with special effects sequences of a bizarre nature in a form of burning a person in a closed jail room. Remarkably, the film noir illustrates the techniques of black and white or light and black combination, the intention for camera revolution around the character, wide and abstract angles, hint to the outcome of the story.


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