Night of the Hunter (57-102 minute)
Setting: 1930s West Virginia, along the Ohio River. Depression-era, aka the Great Depression, which was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. Background: based on a novel by Davis Grubb
Plot: A fairytale- strange and idiosyncratic – but also a noir thriller, laced with the darkest elements of both genres: death, guilt, greed, poverty, cruelty, biblical references and a terrifying pursuit by the scariest of bogeymen. John, played by Billy Chapin, is pivotal as the boy who is alone in perceiving Powell's true motives. In a tale of innocence and experience, he must quickly grow up in the most sinister of circumstances; he must resist adult hypocrisy and stupidity, and a new "father" who pretends to be loving, but is secretly abusive. German expressionalism: bizarre shadows, stylized dialogue, distorted perspectives, surrealistic sets, odd camera angles to create a simplified and disturbing mood that reflects the sinister character of Powell, the nightmarish fears of the children, and the sweetness of their savior Rachel. Cortes shot many of the interiors in the style of a German Expressionist, casting grave shadows and using high contrasts; in exterior scenes he shot with the dreaminess of a rural haven inspired by Griffith.
Wildlife (frog, rabbit, and turtle):
1. Like something out of a storybook or a child’s dream, Mother Nature—a selection of rabbits, frogs, owls, turtles, and even spiders—watches over them with an inquisitive calmness, as Preacher slowly tracks them downriver. The small creatures no doubt identify with what it means to be hunted. 2. Powell is the animal- hunter.
3. Domestic safety—the bird in the cage visible through the window shade as the hear the mother singing the lullaby Spider web: Overlays the image of the children on the river- stark symbolism. The brown glazed nylon threads create the dew-dripped spider web on the riverbank creates a German...
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