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Suspense And Tension In Brian De Palma's Film The Untouchables

1397 words - 6 pages

Suspense and Tension in Brian De Palma's film The Untouchables

During the 1920's many people were unemployed because of the poor
economic conditions in America and to make it worse, were drinking to
make their lives more tolerable. The government decided to ban the
sale and drinking of alcohol, this was period was called 'The
Prohibition'. People continued to want to drink and this lead people
to go to illegal bars or "speakeasies" which sprang up all over
America. Gangsters such as Al Capone and others saw this as an
opportunity to make money by transporting and supplying alcohol to the
them.. As a result they became so wealthy and well organised that
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The arrest of the bookkeeper should be fairly
easy but Ness finds himself in with for reasons. Being a caring person
he is helps a woman struggling to bring her baby up the stairs. While
doing this Ness recognizes one of the gang members, taking out his gun
he single-handedly defeats all the members of the gang while at the
same time protecting the baby. Ness and Stone walk out the station
unharmed and with the bookkeeper.

Brian de Palma has used a variety of sound techniques to create a
feeling of suspense and tension for the audience. Dialogue, sounds
effects, ambient sounds and non-diegetic sounds have all been used to
reinforce what the audience see. The content of the station scene is
expressed through Ness's dialogue. He informs the audience of what is
happening by what he says to other characters on and off screen. Sound
effects have also used successfully to add realism so the audience can
believe that what they're seeing is actually happening. Non-diegetic
sounds also played a big part in the station scene. It changes the
mood of the audience from feeling excited to feeling tense and
uncomfortable. First there were drums which made the audience feel
Ness's tension as he tried to find the bookkeeper. Mobile music is
then added, creating more tension showing now that Ness has to deal
with both the baby, and the stress of trying to find the bookkeeper.
It is made more effective when at times the camera flashes to the
clock, going closer every time, showing the audience that the time is
running out. Ambient sounds such as footsteps and train announcements
also helped the station scene draw in the audience, making them feel
that they are not spectators in the audience but spectators in the

Realist lighting and expressive lighting have both been used in the
station scene. Realist lighting was used mainly to add realism and to
contribute to the story which was then reinforced by the lighting
style. By using expressive lighting it suggested and pinpointed
details to the audience about what is going on and how the characters
felt. A realist effect is used at the beginning of the scene where
Elliot Ness and George Stone were driving to the station and only the
lampposts were giving off light showing that it was night time. Also
when Ness and Stone were walking towards the building there is dim
light again this could either be that Brian de Palma is reinforcing
suspense through expressive lighting showing that Ness and Stone don't
know what is going to happen or reinforcing again that it is night
time. Straight after they entered the station expressive lighting was
used one again with lighting focussed on Ness more than on Stone
showing Ness played a bigger part then Stone in the scene.

Many different types of camera shots played throughout the station

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