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A number of people note that the children's counting game, used to tag people out, is morbid. In context it is. However, I find myself wondering if I'm the only one that used similar games to tag people out, in an otherwise relatively innocent childhood.

 

One was "My mother punched your mother in the nose. What colour was the blood?" The person you were pointing at on the word blood would give a colour, and you'd continue counting. "R E D spells red and you are out."

 

Many of the elements of this sequence are relatively neutral in isolation. They get their creepiness from accumulation and context.

 

 

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I agree about the opening scene counting game. Just listening to the rhythm without paying attention to the words doesn't really instill or portend dread. Hearing the words (or in my case reading the subtitles) does shake the viewer's equilibrium—which is what Noir is supposed to do, right? This is just a child's counting game. But wait, listen to the words. But wait again, we did that when we were kids " My mother punched your mother …." It isn't until we hear the shrill voice of the woman on the staircase that we know we know we are in for something—shall I say?—unpleasant.

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There is a strong history behind all of the morbid children's rhymes/songs. Whether it's about the Black Death (ring around the rosies), rock a bye baby (based on a Native American tradition), Jack and Jill (from French history), etc, they all are generally are not well known in terms of their real meaning especially to the children. It is interesting thst we all have played these games or recited these rhymes and songs as children just as children have throughout history.

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The content of the rhyme is definitely disturbing, but coupled with the starkness of the courtyard and the awkward high angle, it becomes even more unsettling.  Even the sound of the girl counting -- the harsh staccato echo makes the scene disturbing.  Watching the mother finishing cleaning and setting the table with her slow, heavy movements also foreshadows a feeling of dread.  Great example of words, sound, and visuals coming together. 

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Watching the mother finishing cleaning and setting the table with her slow, heavy movements also foreshadows a feeling of dread.  Great example of words, sound, and visuals coming together.

 

Interesting. I saw her movements as lovingly preparing lunch for someone, although it isn't clear at first who it is for. It seemed to represent a break in the drudgery of her work -- something to look forward to. I will have to watch this again to see if I note the feelings of dread you mentioned.

 

One of the interesting things about Film Noir seems to be a degree of ambiguity. There are many details of the story in this film that are left to viewers imagination.

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In the scene with the children we could consider that the game itself is supposed to be a scene or moment where it is supposed to be one of happiness and innocence depicted by the song. But considering the angle of the camera and the use of shadow that overcasts the scene. It gives a sense that in the outer frame there is someone watching the kids lending to a feeling of dread that is forthcoming. Imagine a wolf sneaking around the brush and trees looking down upon the flock of sheep that are quietly at ease, moving about while the predator is waiting for the moment to strike.

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