Mildred Pierce and the Last Seduction

Mildred Pierce and the Last Seduction are both film noir style films, but were made in different eras. This I s important because the audience response to the film and what went on in it has changed from what audiences used to see as acceptable so now there can be scenes of nudity and actors swearing but if that happened when Mildred Pierce was released people would have been appalled. Mildred Pierce starts with Mildred Pierce in a police station dressed smartly and in furs.

The police station has very little lighting and there is a shaft of light across Mildred’s face to show that even though she has chosen a wrong path she still has chance of redemption. The shot then cross-fades and the scene changes to a bright day in the middle of a street with a voice over. Because of the deliberately slow camera work and change in scene the audience realise that this is a flashback that tells the story of how she ended up in the police station.

The camera then tracks to Bert and follows him down the street until he starts talking to a postman, the shot cuts to a medium close up of Bert and the postman who are standing in front of a house. There is a straight cut to inside the house and pans to the door to show Bert entering, the camera then cuts to Mildred but this time she is dressed in the typical house wife clothes. From this shot it pans across to a picture on the piano with two children in it. During these scenes there is cheesy non-diagetic music to symbolise the going back in time, the voice over carries on through these scenes as well.

The second time that the audience see Mildred Pierce there are shadows again but not as deep as they were in the police station but still create a feeling of entrapment within the home. The camera continues to pan across the room until there is a long shot of Bert lying on the sofa doing nothing then cuts to Mildred doing housework, this along with the feeling of entrapment raises questions about the morale’s of marriage, because it shows the inequalities in a marriage and shows how that the woman’s role in the marriage was to stay at home and do the housework and the man expected this no matter what.

This is a typical stylistic feature of film noir because it is a style of filmmaking that is very pessimistic and questions things that are seen as good. In the Last Seduction there is a scene where there is a long shot of a car in the darkness and there is non-diagetic music in the background, the shot cuts to a CU of the Bridget Gregory in deep shadows signifying that she is in some way evil. There is then a cut to Mike Swale and it repeats this whilst there is a conversation going on between the two.

In this conversation Mike starts to tell the audience what he is going by reciting what he has been told to do by Bridget, which is the first signifier of the flash forward. In this sequence there is that headlights from other cars flash in and out of the car creating the feeling of a searchlight looking for something in the dark, this also creates a light/dark contrast. After the last CU of the actor it cross-fades, to a shot of the New York skyline and Mike carries on explaining what he is doing and the audience see what he is doing.

After a while the narration gets ahead of what is actually going on and Mike starts getting nervous before he actually sounds it because he is actually thinking killing someone instead of just saying it. You get to him getting nervous when there are a few close-ups of Mike looking extremely nervous. There is than a straight cut to an XLS the cab and a train from an extreme angle, which creates the feeling that someone, is watching him.

The cab pulls up to the building where he is expected to kill the bloke, as he steps out of the cab there is a LS of the hotel with one of the rooms with its left on and from Mike’s description you realise that, that is the room of the man that he has to kill. The next shot is a point of view shot showing the light being turned off. During these next shots there are some extreme angled shots to emphasis entrapment.

In the shot that shows him entering a corridor through the mirror in the corner, which reverses the exit sign to make it look as if there is no way back for him. There is then a cut to back inside the car to see a CU of Bridget completely submerged in shadow which makes the audience think that there is no way back from the path she has taken but because of the cheesy non-diagetic music, which kicks in whenever she is up to something you get the feeling that she will get away with anything that she wants.

The audience response to these films is was pretty much the same because both of them will have been kind of shocking for there time but if The Last Seduction was released at the time when Mildred Pierce was released it would of caused an outrage because Mildred Pierce was seen as socially unacceptable because it wasn’t right for woman to be earning a living or to be sexually orientated like Bridget Gregory is, and if Mildred Pierce was released in 1994 it wouldn’t of shocked anybody.

The stylistic film noir features were used to emphasise points that they were trying to get across to the audience where as The Last Seduction used these stylistic features ironically. This film is much more lighthearted than typical film noir films because of the changing opinions about things that are acceptable.