Double Indemnity Film Analysis

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Double Indemnity Film Analysis

Double Indemnity

Film AnalysisBy Olivia Gascoine

This opening shot is a confession of Walter Neff. The audience is given the date, his name and we instantly know he is the male protagonist. This medium close up shot reveals his facial expressions to be stressed & sweating heavily presenting him as a Anti-hero lacking heroic qualities. . This connotes fear and worry. He fits the conventional male figure as he is dressed smartly & in a top hat. When he states in dialogue ‘accident double indemnity’ it links to the film name and suggests what crime he has commit. The opening presents themes of murder, fear & hints of him being manipulated. Here he is condemning himself for the murder of Mr Dietrichson. Shot ends with Diagetic sound off sound recording being put down.

Opening scene uses the male protagonist as a narrator and uses a flash back technique creating an enigma code. This film follows a non linear narrative with convoluted twists & a back-story that refers to the events that happened prior to the beginning.

Scene develops Phyllis’s seductive, manipulative nature. The dialogue in this scene is very teasing and of is filled with some sexual innuendos. A medium close up of Phyllis uses back lighting from the window to light her shot making her look innocent and angelic. The mise en scene of the living room is filled with shadows from the venetian blinds. This uses hard lighting to create sharp edged shadows and also highlighting to create thin beams of light illuminating the walls and props within the room. How can murder smell like honeysuckle? This piece of dialogue develops the idea of him being a murder and links it to Phyllis giving hints into the enigma code.

The setting in this shot is a supermarket shown by the mise en scene of products stacked on shelves. This setting presents the idea of them trying to hide their identities and meet in a casual place. It presents the dialogue motif of ‘straight down the line’ which is repeated throughout the dialogue in the film. A deep focus shot of Walter shows his fear and develops the theme of Double Indemnity being a nihilistic/nihilismFilm featuring a bleak, depressing tone where the protagonist is concerned with the subjects of death, suffering, tragedy & unhappiness.

Lighting in the car is very dark, low key lighting foreboding of what crime they are about to commit. The orchestral brass band music in minor key also creates a menacing, chilling and ultimately tragic tone. The pace of the music is very slow and creates the mirrors the narrative of Walter's decline. The dialogue from Walter in a fast pace reveals his fear and panic in preparation to their plan. To contrast this Phyllis is very calm & seems quite excited at the prospect of what is about to happen. She seems to feel no remorse for leaving Walter on the train supporting the fact she is a Femme Fatale character.


Released in 1944





Scene is dark & Gloomy. In this scene Phyllis shoots Walter however misses which feeds the enigma code as to why Walter had a blood shot mark on his right shoulder when recording his confession. It shows her dangerous characteristics as the gun in the shot is iconography of danger and death making her seem deadly when placed in her hands. The over the shoulder shot shows Phyllis deep emotions in a close up. She has tears in her eyes and does embed some sympathy in the audience however she cannot be trusted. It is shocking to the audience when they hear the diagetic foley sound of the shot when she is killed. The orchestral music sounds menacing and unsettling.

First meet of Phyllis & Walter. Lighting, staging and prop of the staircase reveal a great deal about the characters & create a mood & tone for the audience. Uses chiascuoro lighting.

Camera pans showing an establishing shot of the landscape of a city in America. The camera pans to follow the car which by the past tense, narrative non diagetic sound an audience knows Walter is driving the car. His tone is ominous and puts the audience at unease. A cross fade shot transition is used between shots of the house and Walter at the door. The lighting within the house is low lighting and has a strong contrast of light and dark.Proxemics and angles are used to great effect here and the prop of the staircase is used to create a distance and obstacle between Walter and the femme fatale character Phyllis. Also in the way she is higher than him on another floor this presents the male character as being inferior and shots show him looking up admiringly setting the representation that she will be able to control him. The female character is portrayed as being very attractive, she has a soft voice and wrapped in only a towel she uses her seductive charm to interest Walter. A shot reverse shot between characters shows there conversation.In the living room the light is streaming through venetian blinds a convention of film noir.

In this scene the relationship between Walter & Phyllis progresses mainly through the use of dialogue. The framing of the camera work is used to emphasise their facial expressions of flirting & acting in a seductive way.

Further into the film, they have created their plan to kill Phyllis's husband. The motif of 'Straight down the line' is developed & the dialogue & deep focus shots develop the feel of nihilism.

Final scene brings the murder of Phyllis. Scene reinforces idea Walter is an Anti-Hero as he has conflicting emotions & ambiguous morals within this scene. Reveals enigma code to why & who by Walter had been shot.

This is a highly significant scene that the whole narrative builds up too. This scene uses lighting the convention of smoke and music to create a foreboding, uneasy atmosphere.

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