Graham Greene The Third Man Essay

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When she finally walks past Holly, without even glancing in his direction, we perceive her behavior as the fulfilment of an inevitability, the enactment of a necessity, confirming our expectations even more fully than we had imagined possible.

(This did not prevent us from hoping, all the time, that somehow she might still accept Holly, though we knew - as he did - that it would never happen.) At the same time, however, the way in which this outcome is staged, filmed and left uncut is so extraordinary that we are stunned by its originality, even on the tenth or twentieth viewing of the film. "Sir Alexander Korda," Sight and Sound 25, 4 (Spring 1956), pp.

This is the "æsthetic boldness" and "gamble of a remarkable artist" to which Moss rightly referred.

What we have then in the final 66 seconds of the film is a shot which clinches an inevitable and necessary outcome yet does so in a way that is utterly unexpected.

Reed's use of an uninterrupted take lasting over a minute, filmed with a stationary camera, and allowing the outcome to unfold in so gradual a manner, with Holly simply standing there as Anna completes her foreseeable trajectory, is unlike any other ending ever filmed. "The Third Man: Capturing the Visual Essence of Literary Conception," Literature/Film Quarterly 2, 4 (Autumn 1974), pp.

As the shot continues, we keep wondering whether it will actually go on in real time as it had begun, with no cutting, no camera movement, no close shot of Holly, no spoken lines.

As many commentators have pointed out, Harry's two funerals "bookend" the film, establishing a symmetrical relationship between the beginning and end of the story.

And as is well known, that kind of symmetry, in which the story comes full circle, returning to its point of departure, is one of the most effective devices for achieving closure. "A Third Man Cento," Sight and Sound 59, 1 (Winter 1989/90), pp.

[...] With a different final sequence, The Third Man would lose much of its intellectual force.[5] Yet, when Martins shoots Lime at the end, he is able to convince himself that he is acting out of the noblest of motives. Having been torn between a personal loyalty to Lime and a moral obligation to help the authorities arrest him, Martins finally allows his social conscience to take precedence over personal considerations, and that - according to Sarris - is what justifies an ending in which Martins is duly punished for his betrayal of Lime: "The point that Reed and Greene make [...] is that moral responsibility is personal rather than social, especially in a world that has gone awry " (p. Other critics, though adopting a more moderate stance, followed Sarris' lead in viewing the ending as in some sense either deserved by Martins or enhancing Lime's status in our eyes.

Martins lacks the self-awareness to realize that his mediocrity conditions his sense of outrage at the evil deeds of a superior human force (op. They include Voigt (1974),[6] Adamson and Stratford (1978),[7] Palmer and Riley (1980)[8] and Moss (1987).[9] Moss, for example, characterizes Martins as "a clumsy and misguided idealist whose unworldliness has deadly ramifications for other people" (p. It is his meddling and inability to cope with the complexities of a dangerous world, which result in the deaths of three men: the porter, Sergeant Paine and Harry Lime.


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