Saturday, 9 October 2010

Cat people review with quotes

Cat People 1942


Simone Simon
Irena Dubrovna Reed

Kent Smith
Oliver Reed

Tom Conway
Dr. Louis Judd

Jane Randolph
Alice Moore

Cat people is about Irena a fashion illustrator from Serbia who falls in love with Oliver Reed. The get married however there are complications due to that Irena believes she is a victim of an ancient Serbian Curse and that if she becomes emotionally aroused she will kill the arouser. Oliver becoming more and more frustrated due to their consummate-less marriage and asks Irena to talk to a psychiatrist called Dr. Louis Judd. However because Oliver begins to seek consolation with his work colleague Alice, Irena becomes jealous and begins to terrorise her.

‘Moreso than its contemporaries at Universal, Cat People has maintained its ability to scare.Take the classic scene of Alice walking down a dark street, with Irena tailing her. Irena's heels make a distinctive "clack" as they hit the pavement. We follow Irena (clack), then Alice, then Irena (clack), then Alice, and then... still Alice. The clack is gone, and suddenly the scene takes an eerie silence, the perfect set-up for... well, I wouldn't want to give it away.’
Nate Yapp

Cat people is a film that relates to film noir in which it uses many shadow techniques to create tension within scenes. With the aid of shadows much tension is built up in the scene where Alice is being followed in the park and Irena is playing havoc with her mind. There is a lot of low lighting in the scene and accompanied with the coming and going of footsteps behind Alice is extremely tense ultimately ending on the famous technique of the bus. This is an infamous technique in which an outside shot object comes into view unexpectedly to create a jump which is unrelated to that of the tension. It may not have made me jump but I'm sure back in it's day it was definitely a popcorn spiller.

Another good use of lighting techniques is when Alice has just finished swimming but hears a growling from the stairs which forces her to jump back into the swimming pool for safety. The audience is never shown that Irena turns into the panther when following Alice but is rather conveyed through shadow. When Alice jumps into the pool in all the corners a shadowy panther dances menacingly around waiting for her. She screams in terror alerting the receptionist and cleaner upstairs to which Irena reveals herself in the shadows.

Lastly in the scene where Dr. Judd kisses Irena the camera shows the shadows of the transformation of Irena into a panther. This scene is really well done and shows both of them fighting as Irena transforms. In using these shadow techniques the film still manages to not seem so outdated which aids to its horror for the audience because it plays with the audience imaginations as they don’t get a glimpse of Irena in her transformed state until a little bit at the end. These scenes of the shadows are very effective and play with the mind very well instigating questions in your mind as to whether Irena is a cat person or just mentally insane.

‘Tourneur keeps the actual cat (played by Dynamite, who also appeared in The Leopard Man) in the shadows, allowing the interpretation that it’s not more than a projection of Irena’s disturbed psyche. This tactic has often been misunderstood: it’s not that we don’t see the monster, but that our sight of it is deliberately limited.’

The film is based around a sexual metaphor which is boasted in the tagline "A Kiss Could Change Her Into a Monstrous Fang-and-Claw Killer!" This is pretty much a cliché technique in films regarding the kiss as a loss of virginity for Irena which she constantly tries to fight throughout the whole of the film never so frustrating as the scene of the wedding night which Irena and Oliver are on opposite sides of the door. However when the film begins to come to a close she realises that through her fear of becoming this beast she has lost her love to a “willing” woman and does not resist her lusting psychiatrists moves on her ultimately becoming this beast. 

‘Even cleverer is a subtext of explanation offered by psychologist Tom Conway that all but outrightly states that Irena’s belief that she is a were-feline could as much be a delusion caused by an extreme fear of sex.’

Due to clever cinematography of cat people it provides an enjoyable viewing of tense mystery and an underlying sexual metaphor to create depth within the story and characters. And also an introduction to the Bus effect into films which must be thanked for because it has become a cliché to horror films over the years.

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