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Saturday, November 14, 2009
DEEP INTO THE UNTOUCHABLES
BLOGGER LOOKS AT TRAIN SEQUENCE; 2 BRITS DISCUSS FILM
At H i M i P o V, Randy Aitken has written a monster of an essay analyzing the train station sequence in Brian De Palma's The Untouchables with the good-humored belief that “the devil is in the details”—rhythms, numbers, shapes, and symbols. Randy’s essay is generously illustrated with screen grabs such as the one shown here at left. Below is an example in which Randy is riffing on the use of numbers and teamwork:

Regarding Stone and Ness in The Untouchables train station steps sequence, they are a team who start out together, split up and come together again to fight and triumph over adversity while standing at the threshold of a diagonal staircase in the climax of the train station sequence. In the final moments of this sequence, as the Bowtie Killer's right arm acts as a stranglehold while the left arm has a gun to the bookkeeper's head, he threatens to kill the bookkeeper unless they are both released from the standoff. He begins a count off starting at "one" with a pregnant pause. Ness commands Stone to "take him!" and he kills Bowtie and reduces that Capone pairing down to one. Stone finishes Bowtie's counting sentence by saying "two." The visual storytelling has shown architectural space being developed and explored and through editing, framing, and dialog we have been shown changes in shapes and the proximity of these elements and forms to communicate growth and advance the story.

The establishment of a deadly horizontal relationship of the bookkeeper's head caught in between an arm and a gun has changed into a new deadly horizontal relationship between Stone's gun and Bowtie's head.

The angle of the straight line has moved counterclockwise 90 degrees.

And at the end of the straight line is a circle that has become divided into life and death.

As Bowtie's head slips out of frame downwards, an artistic modern abstraction of bloody red color is in evidence. De Palma the artist has thrown some paint upon the canvas for the audience and the characters to admire and comprehend. Bowtie has been zeroed out and we have to decide if Mr. Average, middle-American bookkeeper likes being an art critic, and we wonder if we see ourselves or the character in the canvas that he is standing too close to.

This idea of a making a connection between a straight line and a circle attached to it literally or through implication can be seen in the climax of the basement in Psycho, as well as Burke's activities in Blow Out.

PODCAST DISCUSSION
Meanwhile, at Chin Stroker VS Punter, the two British men of the title discuss The Untouchables in-depth in a podcast that runs about 90 minutes.


Posted by Geoff at 1:18 PM CST
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