The Third Man Is a Film About Morals and Loyalty
Carol Reed presents the idea that betrayal of a friend is forgivable in the light of a greater good. Throughout the film it is seen that the requirement of maintaining loyalty and friendship is overridden when morals are tested. The film follows the ignorant journey of Holly Martins as he attempts to discover the mystery behind the death of his ‘dear friend’ Harry Lime.
The canted camera angles and shadows allow the audience to identify the trustworthy characters from the corrupt, and Reed’s motif of re-occurring props and non-diagetic zither music establish the moral ambiguity of the films setting and atmosphere. The obligation of betrayal is centrally shown through the protagonist Holly Martins, as his initial ignorant loyalty is presented through Reeds use of canted angles. In the beginning of the film Holly is stubborn, gullible and oblivious to the corrupt setting he has immersed himself in.
His innocence is projected through the recurring straight angle on his face, in contrast, suspicious characters such as Harry are given a canted angle suggesting they’re not morally ‘straight’. Holly’s morality and loyalty to Harry is tested in the Ferris wheel scene as he becomes exposed to the true Harry. The scene begins with Holly sitting by the Ferris wheel, appearing dwarfed, hence reiterating his insignificance. The pair enters the carriage and significant camera angles are used on each of their faces to portray to the audience their differing moralities. A straight camera angle is used for Holly, and a tilted for Harry.
Holly is exposed to Harry’s true nature when he tells him about Anna being arrested and Harry simply says “Tough, very tough” showing that he doesn’t truly care about her. Also Harry draws Anna’s name in child-like scribble on the window of the carriage, reiterating that he isn’t concerned about her fate. A long shot of the carnival is given, Harry points to the people walking on the ground and says to Holly “Would you really feel any pity if one of those dots stopped moving forever. Holly, once blind to the truth, is now revealed to Harry’s wrong doings and lack of moral integrity.
The shot of the two inside the Ferris wheel makes them appear trapped. Also, this scene is ironic as they’re on a ride for children’s leisure whilst discussing serious criminal activities. As the carriage goes down, Holly gains his realization of what Harry is capable of. This symbolizes him returning to earth as his views on Harry were previously ‘in the clouds’. In a later scene, Holly is exposed to the children sick as a result of Harry’s faulty penicillin. Slow non-diagetic music plays, the children’s face aren’t shown and the teddy bear’s, symbolizing innocence, are lying face down.
Seeing this, Holly accepts the role of being Calloway’s “dumb duck decoy”, betraying Harry to save his moral integrity. -distorted sense of loyalty, Come back to this para http://pages. wustl. edu/files/pages/imce/jdriver/DRIVER_Third_Man. pdf Harry Lime, the antagonist, provides a sharp juxtaposition to Holly’s reasons for betrayal, and his immorality is portrayed through Reeds use of shadows and chiaroscuro. In Harry’s reveal scene, he is initially hidden in shadow. A shot is given of the mysterious mans feet with Anna’s cat nuzzling up to, providing a dramatic irony as the audience know immediately the person is Harry.
The camera moves up and Harry’s face emerges from the shadows. He raises his eyebrows, and his expression is confident and arrogant. Reed’s use of shadows as a motif for Harry signifies the audience that he is morally questionable and untrustworthy. At the end of the Ferris wheel scene, Harry presents his cuckoo clock theory to Holly, which ultimately defines his moral view. As displayed in the Ferris wheel scene, Harry has no hesitations in betraying his old friend. He states that he could easily kill Holly right there and then, ‘You don’t think they’d look for a bullet wound after you hit that ground. ”
Easily the most charming, cultured and likeable character in the movie, Lime also provides a sharp juxtaposition to Holly’s reasons for betrayal. There are several instances where Lime is seen on the verge of betrayal to his good friend, however chances for this are often dissipated as soon as they appear such as Anna’s presence in the cafe scene where Lime yells at her to “get out of the way”, all whilst reaching around suspiciously for what appears to be a concealed weapon. The reasons for Lime’s potential betrayal become more and more apparent as the movie comes to a conclusion, especially in the Russian sector’s Ferris wheel.
Where Lime’s incapacity to account for the lives of others also includes his disregard for Holly’s continued existence, and as Holy grips the edge of the open door we are privy to the fact that the only esteem Lime holds for anyone is that of himself. Thus, in the interests of self-preservation, Lime feels that loyalty must be sacrificed and hence betrayal is the consequence for the saving of oneself. The necessity for continued existence is therefore the catalyst for Lime’s potential betrayal of his own friend.
The lack of shadows on his face in the film whilst other characters, such as Harry, are placed in shadows and darkness to give the appearance of mystery and evil. Paragraph 1: Holly’s loyalty / morals— loyalty to harry as a friend, children sick room scene/Ferris wheel scene- canted angles etc. Paragraph 2: Harry’s loyalty/ morals—- shadows revealing himself Paragraph 3: Anna’s loyalty / morals— scene at the end, showing her loyalty to Harry Filmmakers use light to illuminate some characters while placing other characters in shadows and darkness to make them appear mysterious, evil or desperate.
When the audience first sees the supposedly dead Harry Lime he emerges from the shadows, suggesting his sinister and secretive intentions The necessity of betrayal is most easily shown through Holly Martins, the protagonist of the story whose gullible, unquestioning and persistent nature all result in an easily swayed man who ultimately decides to be a “dumb, decoy duck” in order to capture Lime and thus cease the heavy weight on his own conscience.
Holly, by becoming involved in matters of no concern to him, is emotionally experienced and too superficial to properly deal with the type of deep thought and contemplation involved in the decision between betrayal and the maintenance of the common good. It is not that Holly makes the wrong decision by betraying his friend, rather, it is the fact that his opinions are easily swayed with proof of the evidence, both through his meeting with Lime who questions him as to whether he would “Calculate how many dots (humans) you could afford to spare”; and through the presentation of Lime’s young victims.
It cannot be denied that Harry’s staunch defence of Lime’s innocence quickly crumbles underneath the production of hard fact, and this reinforces the moral integrity of Holly; who was once so obedient to staying blind to the truth. Such evidence gives the audience more than enough material against Harry in order for them to side with Holly, and hence prove to them the boundaries of how much loyalty one can main, and where the frontiers between betrayal and friendship can inally be breached. Carol Reed’s direction of “The Third Man”, coupled with Graham Greene’s screenplay, continually thrust forward the notion that the betrayal of a friend is forgivable in the light of a greater good. However, what one considers the correct, moral course of action is totally dependent upon their preference of what is considered to be the pinnacle form of ‘morality’, that being the highest stranded of integrity a human can display. The Third Man’ arguably considers the betrayal of a friend acceptable in light of the common good, and throughout the movie it is seen that the arguments for maintaining loyalty and friendship are slowly overridden by the notion of duty one feels in their pursuit of the ‘right’ course of action to take.
Holly and Harry both display signs of betrayal to each over the course of the film; whether it is due to the sacrifice they feel they are required to make in order to achieve a higher stance of moral achievement, or rather in the latter’s case, a lack of ethical consideration towards humanity in general – though it can clearly be seen in each case that loyalty can just as easily be discarded in the face of a more impertinent purpose.
The necessity of betrayal is most easily shown through Holly Martins, the protagonist of the story whose gullible, unquestioning and persistent nature all result in an easily swayed man who ultimately decides to be a “dumb, decoy duck” in order to capture Lime and thus cease the heavy weight on his own conscience. Holly, by becoming involved in matters of no concern to him, is emotionally experienced and too superficial to properly deal with the type of deep thought and contemplation involved in the decision between betrayal and the maintenance of the common good. How this is conveyed: through the character of Holly Martins: appearance and reality- the deceptive nature of appearances in a corrupt society, Holly feels as though he may remain loyal to his ‘dear friend’ Harry Lime, Anna remains loyal to Harry through her ‘blinded love’, Holly’s moral integrity – where he discovers •Props are the objects that appear in the setting, and are often used to provide significant clues about the characters, eg Dr Winkel’s collection of religious icons •Props can also reappear from scene to scene, and from setting to setting, developing more significance and importance.
These repeated images are called motifs. •A mirror can be used as a motif for the soul of the characters by having that character look searchingly into it, while other films may use mirrors as a motif for a character’s fractured identity or their hidden agenda •Windowpanes, staircases, sounds or musical phrases can also be motifs, eg the zither in The Third Man can be described as a motif. * creates or express the mood of the film. used to represents an extension of a character’s state of mind: * A character’s cramped and dirty apartment may indicate that they are feeling trapped in their current lifestyle * The fact that a character’s home is a penthouse with big windows overlooking the city might suggest either the person’s high status and power over the world below them, or the sterility and loneliness of their position. * Changes of setting can signal new starts, challenges, disaster, success, loss and so on, thus alerting us to important scenes.
Filmmakers use light to illuminate some characters while placing other characters in shadows and darkness to make them appear mysterious, evil or desperate. When the audience first sees the supposedly dead Harry Lime he emerges from the shadows, suggesting his sinister and secretive intentions Underexposure * Underexposing a shot means not allowing enough light to pass through the lens, resulting in a dark image. * Commonly used when shooting night-time scenes during the day to give the illusion that it is dark. Gangster and detective films are often underexposed so characters appear shady and mysterious only partially lit or covered in shadows. * Underexposing creates a moody atmosphere as we can’t see what lurks in the darkness Deep focus * A shot where all the elements are in focus. * Such camerawork places more equal importance on all the elements in the scene. Makes all elements of mise-en-scene more important because we encouraged to notice them rather than having certain elements blurred into the background. Deep focus shots create a strong connection between character and their setting. Giving equal focus to both character and setting establishes a strong visual link between them, suggesting that setting reflects or symbolises something about that character. In his 1949 Film Noir The Third Man, Carol Reed uses a variety of cinematic techniques to convey the deceptive nature of appearances which drive his characters morality and loyalty.