The Third Man Sequence Analysis
In Carol Reed’s The Third Man, the sequence in which the police and their bait, Holly, anxiously wait for the arrival of their target, Harry, is full of suspense and displayed through over 25 shots in less than 3 minutes. The sequence captures the anxiousness and suspense experienced by all the characters through its quick cuts of empty streets, destroyed buildings, and dark shadows. The score of this sequence heavily influences the mood and different thematic elements of the scene. Through this nearly silent (almost no dialogue) segment, Reed brings the viewers into the scene through the perspectives of different characters surveying the empty, quiet and dark city of Vienna for the man they are trying to capture, Harry Lime.
The first shot of this sequence is a fade-in of the café in which Holly is settling down while waiting for Harry. The signature zither music picks up again to indicate the suspense of patiently waiting to complete a set-up that will allow the police to arrest a criminal. It then cuts to inside the café where Holly anxiously sits and begins to look outside the window examining the ominous, empty streets of Vienna. This shot is a prime example of the unique askew camera placement used throughout the entire film. In this shot, like several others, the frame is angled quite awkwardly. This technique embodies the creation of a dark, odd and intense world in which noir films took place. The next shot takes us outside with a long pan from left to right. This shot puts us in the perspective of Holly as he slowly scopes out an empty street. This zoomed in pan accurately conveys Holly’s anxiety of Harry’s arrival, as he attentively searches the street for any signs of Harry. This cuts back to Holly who is moving closer to the window in order to get a better look down the streets. Then a quick cut puts us back to Holly’s perspective of the street and yet again we see a vacant, dark street. However this...
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