Second video essay for the University of Oregon Hollywood Film Style course.
Here is my mediocre Statement of Intent for the essay:
For the second video essay, I wanted to focus on director Billy Wilder’s Double Indemnity’s score, a extremely valuable part of film noir that is often ignored. For the first part of the essay, I tried to give an overview of how composers at the time viewed the importance of their craft through a quote from Kathryn Kalinak’s Settling the Score: Music and the Classical Hollywood Film that follows, “the image is ultimately limited in its ability to convey emotion,” (176). I wanted to highlight that it is clear just by the score of Double Indemnity that the film’s composer, Miklos Rozsa, definitely felt this way about making music for film, so much so that he was nominated for an Academy Award for the score.
I then wanted to illustrate how Rozsa truly showed emotion through score within a minute in Double Indemnity. I chose the scene where Fred MacMurray's character, Walter Neff is in awe of Barbara Stanwyck’s character, Phyllis Dietrichson, mostly because the score changes three different times within the span of a minute. Also, the score slightly diverges from the motivation of the voiceover in order to give the audience a small hint as to what Walter is truly thinking (he can’t get his mind off of Phyllis). In the beginning, the score starts out with faster paced strings, a kind of theme that brings the audience back to Walter’s voiceover. However, as Walter discovers the room a little more, the fact paced strings are replaced with soft and high pitched violins, hinting that Walter is thinking about something else other than what his voiceover is explaining (as the voiceover explains the objects in the living room). Finally, when Walter’s voiceover is ready to reveal what Walter has been thinking about the entire time, the strings swell enormously, something that reminded me of the romantic strings in director Michael Curtiz’s Casablanca. While the strings are in full swell, Phyllis comes down the stairs, ending the emotional climax that Rozsa built for the entire scene.
I intend to show that the score in this scene sheds light onto who Walter is, even though in this film noir he is mysterious and dark, as most film noirs. Without the score subtly revealing more of his character, it might be more difficult to truly be impacted by the emotions of the images by themselves.
Wilder, Billy, director. Double Indemnity. Paramount Pictures, 1944.
Kalinak, Kathryn Marie. Settling the Score: Music and the Classical Hollywood Film. 1992, Accessed 11 Nov. 2018. Pg. 176
PRMancini007. 26 June 2011, www.youtube.com/watch?v=9L_z2OcL8-U. Accessed 11 Nov. 2018.