Film Analysis: Sunset Boulevard

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Released September 29, 1950, Sunset Boulevard is a film noir of a forgotten silent film star, Norma Desmond, that dreams of a comeback and an unsuccessful screenwriter, Joe Gillis, working together. Ultimately an uncomfortable relationship evolves between Norma and Joe that Joe does not want a part of. Sunset Boulevard starts off with an establishing shot from a high angle shot with a narrative leading to a crime scene shot in long shot (a dead body is found floating in a pool). The narrative throughout the film established a formalist film. Cinematography John F. Seitz used lighting and camera angles in such a way to create a loneliness and hopefulness atmosphere. The crime scene at the beginning of the film, for example, used a low angle view to show the body floating from underwater. Low key lighting is often represented when scenes are shot inside Norma’s home. The interior shots are also tightly framed shots with extreme camera angles it gives off a depressed, claustrophobic environment. In the exterior shot, the scenes are in high key lighting and use realistic lighting to give off a lively atmosphere that Joe does not experience while inside the home. The scene of Norma and Joe watching Norma’s old film in the living room is filled with low key lighting. The scene is shot with a wide-angle lens showing both the character and some headroom above for the projection light. The projection behind Joe and Norma lights up both of their faces while everything else is
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