Double Indemnity Scene Analysis

Scene Analysis of Double Indemnity (Billy Wilder, US, 1941)

 

The scene is when Mr. Keyes discusses his theories of Mr. Dietrichson’s death to Walter Neff and brings in a possible witness to prove his theories.

 

  • Low angle, MCU of Walter’s expression as Mr. Keyes tells him he believes Mr. Dietrichson’s death was a murder- not an accident nor suicide.

 

  • -MCU, straight on. Mr. Keyes literally looks up to Walter, unaware that he is the murderer.

 

  • -MCU, straight on. Walter looks down to Mr. Keyes as he questions his theories, knowing not only that Mr. Keyes is correct but also, he is guilty of the crime.

 

  • -WS, camera slightly pans right with Mr. Keyes as he walks, keeping Walter in the shot toward the back.

 

  • -MS of Walter and Mr. Keyes. Walter has the shadows of the venetian blinds cast on him as if he is behind bars already for the crime Mr. Keyes continues to discuss.

 

  • -MS, camera moves back as Mr. Keyes walks toward the camera discussing his hypothesis of what really occurred to Mr. Dietrichson.  Walter is in the back, standing still as if he is cannot walk or move due to his anxiety of Mr. Keyes’ assumption.

 

  • -MS, straight on. Again, the cast of the venetian blinds are strong on Walter and he seems motionless as Mr. Keyes informs him of a possible witness who may confirm his theories.

 

  • -MS, straight on. Walter walks behind the seat, still in the cast of the venetian blind shadows, looking worrisome.

 

  • -MS, straight on, long take. Mr. Keyes opens the door for the witness.  The camera pans right with the characters as the walk into the shot with Walter in the background. Walter is behind Mr. Keyes and the witness.  However, he is in the center with a concerned look, causing our focus to be on Walter and his reaction to the witness as he states Mr. Dietrichson was not the man on the train.

 

Wilder shows that Mr. Keyes did not suspect Walter of the crime by using a low angle shot of Walter’s expression.  He keeps Mr. Keyes seated on the couch and has him literally look up to Walter as he discusses his theories of Mr. Dietrichson’s death.  It is as if Mr. Keyes  respects Walter greatly to never have the slightest belief that Walter can commit such a crime.

The shadow of the venetian blinds on Walter occurs in numerous scenes.  When Mr. Norton, the company chief, brings Phyllis the wife of Mr. Dietrichson in, Walter stands to the side as the shadows cast on him.  Also, throughout the scene where Phyllis and Walter discuss his discovery of her betrayal, the shadows cast on and off on him.  I believe the venetian blinds represent his guilt.  It is as if he is already literally behind bars as Mr. Norton and Mr. Keyes slowly put the murder scene together.  He appears to be in prison in his own mind as he knows he is guilty of the crime they are solving.

As Walter stands firm, we could feel the tension he is experiencing.  When Mr. Keyes walks around and the camera moves, they keep Walter in the shot toward the back.  You can sense Mr. Keyes excitement to solve the case, while Walter is tense in the background.  Although Walter is further back in the shot where the witness confirms that the man was not Mr. Dietrichson, our focus is still on Walter.  He is in the center and completely tense.  We hear what the witness is discussing but focus our attention on Walter’s reaction and tension building up.

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2 Comments

  1.   rosemarie Said:

    on October 24, 2011 at 3:19 am

    I really liked this scene, where the venetian blinds casted a shadow upon Walter. I thought it was very symbolic and I’ve never seen something like it in a movie before.

  2.   alivingston Said:

    on October 28, 2011 at 5:13 am

    This was one my my favorite scenes! There is so much to analyze and i think you did a good job at looking at it as in depth and it was very easy to read. Keyes was easily my favorite character in Double Indemnity and these scenes really let him shine.

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