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Night Of The Hunter Analysis Essay

In the film Night of the Hunter, young John and Pearl are trying to escape from a preacher named Harry who wants the money that their father stole for them when they were young. In this specific scene, the audience see them floating down the river coming to shore where there appears to be a small house with a backlit window, as well as a very large barn to the right of the house. The audience soon learns that John and Pearl would like to spend the night of the water, where they can actually lay down.

This film has an endless amount of the hidden meaning to influence the audience to feel bad for what John and Pearl are going for. Some of these major meaning in this specific scene are the backlit silhouette of the bird in the cage, the view from behind the cows, the non-diegetic music, Harry riding the mule on the horizon, and the river. At the beginning of the scene when John and Pearl exit their boat and walk up to the house, they both stare into the window where the silhouette of the bird is. The audience gets a close up shot of the bird in the cage.

Often time, birds can be represent freedom, and the ability to do as one wishes. The saying, “spread your wings and fly” is referring to someone setting off on adventure and, being away from what they are comfortable with. But the close-up of the bird in the cage may represent the way John and Pearl are feeling captured. They feel like Harry is keeping them in a cage in the beginning of the movie, and now they can’t seem to escape from his grasp. The next part of the scene follows John and Pearl through the bottom level of the barn where the cows are.

When this scene is shot, the audience gets a tracking shot from under the cows. We are able to clearly see the cow’s dripping utters and hear a woman singing, “Hush my little ones”. This scene represents how John and Pearl are missing the motherly figure in their lives that Harry took from them. The cows utters are able to represent that close relationship that a mother a child have from birth. The relationship of a mother taking care of her children and protecting them as they grow into adulthood.

The non-diegetic woman singing during this scene appears to have the voice of a protective and strong mother. The song makes that audience feel like she is singing them a lullaby during the night. After Harry kills their mother, John and Pearl are orphans who must learn to fend for themselves and must learn how to survive while Harry is perusing them. John and Pearl lie down for the night, but after the audience experiences an elliptical shot and can see the moon moving through the night sky, John wakes to the diegetic sound of dogs barking in the distance.

During this scene the audience hears the diegetic sound of dogs barking. This often represents a hunt or a chase happening. Jails would often use dogs as a way to track down escaped criminals. John and Pearl might feel as if they were being hunted by Harry, but the dogs might also represent that Harry was getting close because he was the criminal and the dogs were “perusing” him. We then see and extreme long shot of Harry entering the scene on a horse. It then cuts to a long shot of the silhouetted Harry riding what appears to be a smaller horse or mule.

The director appeared to have switched the horse with a mule while John was watching him to make Harry appear much larger in a closer shot. This was done to make him scarier and more intimidating to the audience. The audience is then able to get a long shot of a John and Pearl leaving the barn and retreating back to their boat on the river. In this part of the scene, John and Pearl are back on the river, trying to escape from Harry. The river seems to be a motif in the film as John and Pearl always retreat back to the river, and it gives the impression that it’s the only safe place for them.

When children are in their mother’s stomach, they are incased in water based membrane, which protects the child from harm while being developed. This river appears to almost be like the membrane protecting the children from Harry. This part also refers back to the children feeling like orphans as they have recently lost their mother. They don’t exactly know how to be independent and survive on their own, so they are reverting back to their primal instinct of the water being a place of comfort and safety.

In conclusion, this scene is filled with hidden meanings that help to persuade the audience to fear for the children’s safety and also empathize for them because they have lost their mother. These seem to be two major themes in the film and especially in this scene from the movie. In the beginning Night of the Hunter, the children’s mother is very protective and cares a lot about her children. But then after she is killed, it appears that the environment begins to act as their protector. It helps to keep them out of reach from Henry, and provides the necessities for them to survive.

All of these different meanings appear to make the children feel scared and worried about what to do next. It’s important for the audience to share these same feelings with the characters, as it keeps the audience on the edge of their seat and interested in what is going to happen next. All of these elements were necessary for making the scene as important as it was. This film was filled with these hidden meaning and did a great job in helping the audience feel for the children along their journey.

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