On The Waterfront Analysis

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In the 1954 film, On the Waterfront directed by Elia Kazan, Terry Malloy, played by Marlon Brando, an inarticulate former prizefighter in his late twenties, serves as a petty errand boy for the union head, Johnny Friendly. The Hoboken, New Jersey port across the river from Manhattan, is the setting of the film where gangs run the docks and work in the area. The film shows realism in many different cinematic and thematic ways throughout the film. In the sense of cinematically, this film was filmed on the actual docks of New Jersey in the winter time. Kazan is able to brilliantly create the realistic port feel by filming on scene and using the natural surroundings as his “canvas”. The cargo ships in the background coming in and out, the slummy docks where men find work, and the local bars from the area. These natural settings and props made the film real and alive as it was what was actually going on in the ports. The background sounds on the dock—ships’ whistles and chains clanging through metal loops—add to the realistic aural environment. Kazan also uses the natural cold and winter to film in which give the film a realistic mise-en-scène. Breaths are visible and steam up in the bone-cold air. A small detail like this suggests the brutal treatment these dock workers face daily, not only from the corrupt union officials but from the elements themselves. The visible breaths also affirm the unique existence of each character. Kazan casted not just actors to play these though
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