Graham Greene The Third Man Essay

Graham Greene The Third Man Essay-35
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.

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.

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The strains of Karas's zither music are heard throughout the shot. "The Third Man: Context, Text and Intertextuality," Metro Magazine 92 (Summer 1993), pp.

Before the picture was completed, Graham Greene argued against this ending, for two reasons: first, because he believed that The Third Man, which he considered nothing more than an entertainment, was "too light an affair to carry the weight of an unhappy ending"; and second, because he was afraid that "few people would wait in their seats during the girl's long walk from the graveside towards Holly, and the others would leave the cinema under the impression that the ending was still going to be as conventional as my suggested ending of boy joining girl."[2] Carol Reed told Greene that the original ending, with Martins and Anna walking arm in arm from the cemetery immediately after Harry Lime's burial, "would strike the audience [...] as unpleasantly cynical."[3] Reed gave other reasons as well in a later interview, in which he also mentioned producer David O.

In other words, the conclusion of the story is experienced as the fulfilment of an inevitability, while the cinematic discourse with which the story is concluded takes us by surprise.

This unique interplay of inevitability and surprise is just one of the properties of the ending that make it unforgettable.

While virtually everyone who writes about The Third Man hails the ending as one of the most mesmerizing in the history of the cinema, those commentators who interpret Anna's walking past Martins at the end generally view it as an expression of the filmmakers' negative judgment of Martins. "The Third Man: Pulp Fiction and Art Film," Literature/Film Quarterly 21, 3 (1993), pp.

In other words, the ending is seen by a number of commentators as appropriate and satisfying because it is precisely what Martins deserves!

The most extreme interpretation of this kind was proposed by Andrew Sarris (1957): Martins attends Lime's funeral, and waits by the side of the road to speak to Lime's mistress. "The Third Man," Monthly Film Bulletin 16, 189 (September 1949), p.

In one of the most memorable endings ever filmed, the girl walks deliberately past Martins, into the camera and beyond while Martins lights a cigarette to conceal his discomfiture.

According to Moss the movie-makers seem convinced of the ineffectuality of goodness, whose pale, limp passivity is contrasted throughout with the striding vigour of evil, at once cunning and robust [...] Predictably, Anna prefers the memory of Harry to the reality of Martins (pp. Moss's enthusiasm for the sheer artistry of the ending - a "devastatingly bleak, idiosyncratic conclusion" which displays "an aesthetic boldness unparalleled in English language films, the gamble of a remarkable artist" - goes hand in hand with his view that the "last moments of the film are courageously true to the intellectual and emotional logic of the story" (p. Taking issue with critics such as Sarris "who condemn Martins and champion Lime," Lynette Carpenter (1978)[10] argues that when Martins gets a closer look at Harry's victims in the children's ward, and finally "agrees to sacrifice personal loyalty to social responsibility," this "commitment to help Calloway marks the final stage of a maturing process that begins when he steps off the train in Vienna" (p. For Carpenter, "the film systematically attempts to persuade the audience to accept this decision along with Martins" (p.

27), and "advocates humanity and compassion in the face of increasing pressure to categorize, generalize and dehumanize, a pressure that leads, when unresisted, to totalitarianism" (p. Sarris's nonsensical claims about Martins' shooting of Lime, are also refuted by Carpenter who points out that "when Lime kills Paine in the sewers, Martins goes after him in a moment of anger; but when Martins kills Lime, he does so out of compassion for Lime's suffering.

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