As I watch this movie I think of where I live, Hoboken. It was also filmed for 36 days on the Hoboken waterfront. This movie is popular for its iconic performances and its clear and crisp direct imagery. This film is also iconic because of its speeches such as Terry’s “I coulda been a contenda”? speech as well as Father Barry’s speech about standing up for what is right. This movie is built mostly on the monologues which allow the words to do all of the work.
The cinematography is stunning, he uses the bird’s eye views on the docks at night, veiled in the shadows, the streets are quite and empty aside from the gangsters doing their unlawfully work. Kazan as I stated above basically stands aside and lets the actors speak their powerful and that is mainly enough to make this movie as great as it is. One seen that speaks out to me the most is when Terry admits to Edie that he convinced her brother to go to the roof where he was pushed off and died by Johnny’s thugs.
The scene is set on the rocks of the waterfront; a lot of the words that are spoken are overthrown by the whistle of the ship that is near them. K azan shoots back and forth between Edie and Terry. Edie has eyes full of tears and her hands over her mouth while Terry is frantically trying to explain himself; he is in pain as he tries to explain to Edie why he got her brother killed, and why he cares about it. During Terry’s speech it is hard to understand as the ships whistle makes it hard to comprehend anything terry is saying.
However, Terry’s words are familiar; they are just words that he’s been using throughout the movie: he didn’t know they killed him, he cannot talk about it, and he needs to look out for himself. While Terry speaks these words, Kazan keeps the focus on the faces of the actors as they silently communicate their agony and heartbreak. Kazan also emphasizes how empty Terry’s words are, how meaningless they are to Edie as she is in express grief. The lighting throughout the film is somewhat eerie and very dark, to exemplify, the part where Terry is calling Joey Doyle.
It is night time and dark, the streetlights are casting a mysterious shadow on Terry’s face. The use of light and dark gives the impression that something menacing is about to happen in the scene. To exemplify another scene where dark lighting sets the scene is when Terry looks for his brother. Edie follows Terry, and finds his brother in a dark alley way. When she finds him a truck comes out of nowhere and swerves the corner and goes straight towards them. The bright light from the truck creates an environment of sheer blind panic.
The light around Edie seems to always be much lighter I believe due to her light hair and pale skin. It also makes her appear to be glowing and it represents how angelic she is. The lighting in the film is meritoriously used to show the disparity between good and bad. The most useful cinematic aspects of this film are the different angle shots and also the music. There is a scene where after Terry unknowingly helps in the murder of Joey Doyle, he and Glover are sitting on the roof top next to the pigeons.
This high angle shows how weak and sad Terry felt about being involved in this horrible crime. Another shot used to create mood is the low angle. An example of the low angle is when the men who are trying to get work on the waterfront begin to fight with the man who gives the work tickets out. This low angle makes the men appear to be desperate and imprudent than they really are. Based on the examples I had provided, I believe this film is classicism because it contains a middle ground between realism and formalism.
The fact that it was filmed in Hoboken gives it realism because of the use of real life people used in the film such as the labor boss’ and chief bodyguards. The use of formalism is to capture the essence of reality which I believe they have captured fairly well in this film. I chose all three classifications because the film holds a little bit of each. The fact that the movie is classical gives it classicism as well as the fact that the movie contains realism as well as formalism.
In conclusion, in this film On the Waterfront, the cinematic aspects of the film are used to communicate the emotion to whoever is watching it. This film projects on how protagonists deal with the moral predicaments that have to do with the deaths of innocent people. Terry Malloy made Joey Doyle go outside which in turn results in the death of Joey caused by the mob. Terry did not mean for Joey to become harmed, however, because of his actions, he was the reason an innocent person was killed.