Out Of The Past Film Analysis

1294 Words6 Pages
I’ve touched on it several times so far, but the use of shadows in Out of the Past stands out as a defining cinematic device employed by Tourneur. Obviously, shadows are ingrained in the fiber of any film noir. Deep focus, low key lighting, and expressionistic compositions are standard. But Tourneur goes above and beyond with his shadows. He creates beautiful compositions, but more importantly, he uses shadows to define and redefine the mood, and to tell the story. Shadows aren’t a decorative ornament, they’re a fundamental aspect to how the story plays on screen. Without them, the film wouldn’t work.
Out of the Past starts off bright and sunny. Tourneur doesn’t particularly enhance the shadows in Bridgeport; it would feel wrong for such a
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Tourneur makes great use of it throughout the entirely at-night San Francisco sequence, enhancing danger, suspense, and dread at every turn. But one of the most important uses of shadows comes towards the end of the film, when Ann meets up with Jeff in a forest at night. Purely based on the number of shadows, this scene wins. Tree trunks, branches, and twigs draw endless lines across the bodies of both actors. It’s beautifully shot, but significantly, it’s the only time Ann is ever truly enveloped in shadows. At this point in the story, Jeff thinks he’s found an escape route. So he finally visits Ann, bringing her into his world of darkness. She’s in a place she doesn’t belong; Jim watches from the distance, thinking that exact thought. As for Jeff, he believes he can escape, but the shadows tell the truth. He’s been pulled too far into the world and now fate is closing in. Although he doesn’t know it yet, Whit’s dead. His plan has failed. The shadows trap Jeff in the frame, condensing space, making the whole scene feel uneasy (well, that and the unknown intentions of Jim). The audience is visually told that something terrible is happening. When he returns to Whit’s house, it’s confirmed. There’s no way out. Without this expressive, bold use of shadows, the mood of this film would be wholly
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