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  1. This is a great opening scene. Bette Davis is brilliant and nowhere is it more evident that in the way that she expresses herself in this scene. We see her rush out of the house, obviously furious, and empty the gun into a man. For a few moments, she appears to be in shock, and when the moon goes behind a cloud, she momentarilly registers the horror of what she has done, only to collect herself completely before the moon comes out. When the moon comes out, she has already regained control of herself and is completely calm as she instructs the plantation workers. Her two requests - notify the
  2. Before we even know where we are, all that we see is a gaping, fiery, mouth. All that we hear is the scream of the steam whistle. Only when we see the engineers shoveling coal into it do we get a sense that we are not actually in hell. As the train races through the countryside it seems like a force of nature, or a rampaging monster barely kept in check by the efforts of the engineers. The train is imbued with a relentless sense of inevitability.
  3. I really liked the juxtaposition of the bland narrative with the jazzy music. It tells us that although the film is set in the real, modern day, world, it will also be exciting and dramatic. The opening reminded me of the opening to the old Dragnet radio show (and later the t.v. show) where Jack Webb would establish that the scripts were based on true stories. I felt like the transition from aerial shots to shots of the workers waiting behind the fence took us from the abstraction of fields and farming in general, right down to the specifics of what the film is about - the men who do the work.
  4. -- What did you notice about Rita Hayworth's performance when you were watching this scene? I was distracted by how well that dress was tailored. The other thing I noticed was how nuanced the performance actually was. Gilda wasn't just performing a song, she was lashing out at the men who had tried to control her. She is furious, but she keeps it reigned in just enough to pass it off as sexual agression. -- What are some of the deeper layers of meaning that are contained in this film noir musical sequence? Gilda is tired of being controlled by her husband and Johnny, and her performance
  5. Laura is a charming character study of objects and faces, largely because objects and faces are what Preminger decided to focus on, at least in the film's first scene. Without showing us Lydecker himself, the visuals tell us everything we need to know about him. He is wealthy, well travelled, and has feminine tastes. There is a portrait of Laura over his fireplace, which tells us that she was important to him - but the portrait is nearly eclipsed by the other items in his collection which may mean that he considered Laura part of that collection. -- What do you think about how Preminger i
  6. The main emotion that the opening of M invokes is one of dread. By showing us women engaged in the drudgery of a completely normal day, Lang invites us to question why he has chosen to show us this day in particular. We become aware that this is not going to be a "completely normal day" after all. At this point, we know that something is going to happen, and the chanting of the children (and later the wanted poster) provides context for what that will be. When we see Hana's mother setting the table so lovingly while Hana walks home from school Lang is telling us that these characters
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