Intro to American Film and Culture
Chinatown is a American neo-noir film, directed by Roman Polanski and starring Jack Nicholson, it was made in 1974. The film features many themes of the film noir genre, a multi-layered story that is part mystery, part psychological drama, the femme fatal character, and many more. It was released by Paramount Pictures. The story, set in Los Angeles in 1934, was inspired by the California Water Wars, the historical disputes over land and water rights that had raged in southern California during the 1910s and 1920s, in which William Mulholland acted on behalf of Los Angeles interests to secure water rights in the Owens Valley. Set in 1934 Los Angeles, Jake Gittes, a former cop who now specializes in divorce investigations, meets a woman pretending to be the wife of Hollis Mulwray, the chief engineer of the Los Angeles Water and Power Company. Claiming that people have seen Hollis with another woman, she asks Jake to investigate her husband’s to see if he is cheating on her. It seems like a simple enough job. But it isn't. The woman who hired him isn't the real Mrs. Mulwray. Then the water commissioner ends up dead and the real Mrs. Mulwray hires Gittes to find out what really happened. He may think he knows what he's dealing with. But he doesn't.
The film tries to portray the dishonesty of authority figures. Chinatown suggests that the very notion of an honest and trustworthy leader is nonexistent. In Chinatown, people in positions of power are never what they seem to be, and their true nature is will always end up being harmful to other people. Cross, who has no official power but who has used his money to essentially run most of the city and the outlying area, uses the people he controls as pawns for his personal gain. The district attorney in Chinatown is legendary for his instruction that the police ignore any crime that is committed. Lieutenant Escobar, a friends and former coworker, is...