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AstasOwner

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  1. From having seen so many films where children's voices are the first things the audience hears, my mind immediately thinks that something bad will happen. Especially with Lang's opening the children's voices are heard over a black screen before their source is seen. So much foreshadowing and flashback is played out in these few moments. Foreshadowing comes in the form of the children singing a dark song, Mrs. Beckman and another laundress discussing that hearing the children sing lets them know the children are alive, the wanted poster for a murderer who has not been caught. Mrs. Beckman and the laundress also discussing the recent murders and even the wanted poster can act as a flashback letting the audience know why this man is so evil and wanted by the law. All the warning signs of what is about to unfold are there in these few minutes of the opening scene. Lang's camera work, his quick panning around the courtyard and into Mrs. Beckman's apartment and then quick editing and panning to the streets in the city, create fantastic tension. The camera work and editing beautifully grab the viewers attention they leave the viewers wanting to know what will happen next. The sounds of the car horns, the church bells, and the children's voices are sounds of fear, panic, dread, trouble, time running out, moments of a life left to live, and innocence. These sounds give way to more tension then actual dialogue or even the actions of the characters. The power of suggestion and the unknowing and the sounds come together to create wonderful suspension and tension. They also work wonderfully to pull in the viewer. Possibly the most disturbing and chilling of all sounds and scenes is when the murderer is writing a letter to a newspaper describing how he is not done with his killing all the while whistling a cheerful song. You know right away that something is not right with this person who can be gruesome and whistle a cheerful song at the same time. The opening scene sets the tone for noirs to come with its dark contrasts of light and dark to set an ominous, menacing tone, The audience is shown a world where innocence (to an extent) was still known and that innocence is disturbed by one person and lives are brought together and people become known through this disturbance.
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