American Films Chinatown In this essay I will discuss technical, stylistic, and storytelling from one of the great American noir films of all time, Chinatown. The storyline is unparalleled and the portrayal of the characters by Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway are brilliant. Director Roman Polanski and writer Robert Towne created a masterpiece, and it doesn’t go unnoticed. The duo captures everything that is film noir from the World War II times while tweaking the rules along the way.
Chinatown is set in sunny Los Angeles. Film noir is typically told in a dark and sometimes rainy environment, complete with shadows and low-key lighting during ost of the scenes. The films from noir genre in the 1940’s were shot in black and white; Chinatown is shot in color while keeping the same feel as similar films in the genre. Gittes office loudly screams film noir, as it is drenched in classic blind-driven shadows.
Chinatown also embodies film noir with many scenes shot at night, such as when private investigator Gittes attempts to find out what really is happening with the water supply while he is rudely welcomed with a blade inside his nostril. Another scene that gives the classic noir feel is when Gittes and the femme fatale Evelyn Mulwray meet in a shadow filled car outside of a house that is holding Mulwrays mistress. The shadows dominate the inside of the car and there is only enough light to show both of their faces and nothing more.
The clothing worn by Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway did not let us down. In classic noir films, the detective predominately sported a trench coat or suit and a hat. Gittes is always draped in the finest fabrics throughout the film. From Gittes silk suits to his silk pajamas; the private investigator is always looking dapper. Faye Dunaway is also known for her style in the film. From Evelyn’s over-the-top fur and hat complete with feathers to her silk robe pajamas; the femme fatale imprinted fashion trends across the framework of Hollywood and southern California.
Robert Towne earned high praise from critics nationwide and deservedly so. The writer did a phenomenal Job developing the characters and always staying one step ahead of the audience. Director Roman Polaski also deserves much credit for slowly building up the story while keeping the audience infused with mystery. I loved watching the ego-driven Gilles as he believed he had the case fgured out, only to iscover that he was in the dark the whole time. As Gilles begins to trust Evelyn, he starts trying to help Evelyn and not helping himself with the case.
You can literally see him fighting his ego as a result of his relationship with her and it is a pleasure to watch. I really enjoyed this film. It includes all the mystery, deceit, murder, and seduction that we all love from the genre with a few twists along the way. Flawless execution from top to bottom makes this a masterpiece for the ages. Many films may come close to claiming the film noir title, but to me, “Forget it, It’s Chinatown. ” Chinatown Movie Essay By redstove23