Character Analysis: The Hustler

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The clip belongs to the movie The Hustler (Rossen, 1961) an adult story about life and love, greed, and self-destruction of isolated characters but also a story about conscience and redemption. The entire clip reproduces the first meeting about Eddie (Paul Newman) and Sarah (Piper Laurie), anticipating the romantic relationship of the film. The director uses widescreen and black and white creating a realistic atmosphere (….) and highlighting the isolation of the characters even in their relationship. This essay analyzes how those devices are used in three different moments anticipating the dénouement of the plot.
In the whole movie, the use of the widescreen in addition to the performance of the actors emphasizes the isolation of the characters
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At the station bar the scene is shot in a bright light, furthermore, the use of a wide range of scale from black and white depicts the characters: while Sarah is shown in light colors, seeming to be an innocent woman (….), Eddie uses dark dresses, and thought the audience already knows him, now, in addition, he shows different layers of clothing, from darker to lighter, which could mean that he has a good depth. In the tavern scene the light is different and projecting shadows from the characters. Eddie says ‘you look different’ and he is right, Sarah is shown under a different light and as a result, especially after confessing that she drinks, the contrast between them is not so wide, since she is shown darker than in the preceding scene. Furthermore, Eddie is enlightened with a back lighting increasing his charming. The use of that kind of light with the widescreen emphasizes the isolation of the characters. A low angle puts the audience in an omniscience position to see their reactions, and the beginning of a relationship that leads them to a third moment in front of Sarah´s apartment, in this scene the light is from the front, increasing the range of dark greys and the shadows over the characters. After she has rejected him, the faces are dark with shadows, especially Sarah´s one. Thus, this is the beginning of an ambiguous
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