There really are two ways of looking at a movie when it is based on the true story. When I see a movie of this type, I always struggle with the two choices, and usually end up somewhere in the middle. The Untouchables is that kind of movie.
To start off with, I think that it?s a great film, director Brian DePalma?s well done work. However, as is usual when the tale of Al Capone and Eliot Ness is told, some facts are taken with the source meterial. Manufacturing a confrontation between Ness and Capone does indeed enhance the storyline in ?The Untouchables?, and for that, we must thank the director and the excellent work of the operator.
To start off, let?s deal with Kevin Costner, as he is the head of his division. Costner plays Ness with his (by now) typical ?calm man? demeanor manages to make him much more human, more down to earth, more helpless than not. Ness is undecided at times, and needs guidance. He has a goal and a vision, but also knows that he needs help to bring it about, and here, he gets that help from an honest beat cop named Malone, essayed by Connery.
Connery truly shines as the ?one good cop in a rotten city?. And then, to top it all off, these two strong protagonist characters get to go up against DeNiro?s Al Capone. It can be said that Robert DeNiro is the finest actor in Hollywood, playing a decadent gangster. I enjoy DeNiro so much, that I tend to overlook bad things in his movies. Here, though, he is in good company. Capone is a jolly good time guy, who is hard as nails, and tough as steel underneath. He keeps his public persona public, but everyone knows that there are fists of steel in the velvet gloves. Just an awesome performance, all around.
This movie conveys the idea of The Fight between Goodness and Evil. On one side Ness and his squad personalize the low and the order. On the other side we have Capone and his guys personalize lowlessness, crime, and so on.
At the beginning of the movie it is very interesting how Capone is introduced to us. Before the movie is started we hear a gunshot, in the darkness. Then the long shot (taken from a crane) with no sound. It makes us to feel like we are looking at the well. We read the text, which says about violence, and in the button of the well Capone lying at a chair with a towel closes his face. He is given an interview, and then we will see him again lying in bad with reading the article ?CRUSADER CAP BUSTS OUT?. And giggling at his contender.
At the first scene we see a blood on Capone cheek. The operator made a grate job. Here we see that Capone is very dangerous. All journalists stopped talking at once, there is silence again. First we see as Capone is touching the cheek, then reaction shot of the barber man, who is really scared to death. Reaction shot of Capone, who now realized that he hasn?t been cut. Insert cut of barber man looking at his cut finger. (If Capone has been cut the barber man would be dead soon). The fact that Capone has been shot in a high angle shot is given us a thought who he really is, although he has a great deal attitude from the journalist. As he lying in a chair his hand looks lighttle, he is nefarious man. Capone makes his money on the grief of other people. Filmmaker assures us from the beginning that Capone will be fall, by showing him in the high angle shot. The sequence of shots, after we got to know who Capone is, and about to be introduce to another actor, is splight by the scene when a lighttle girl dying in a bomb explosion. The murder of lighttle girl appears to show us who Capone really is and would cause the additional reason for Ness at the time when he would doubt his acts.
When Ness arrives to Chicago, he faced that there is no one, who would follow his attitude to the life, how he leads the one. The cause of it is that he is very specific to the low and always within the low. He even can?t accomplish himself within the policemen who are doing the same job and have the same goals. The only man who may understand him is Malone (Sean Connery). They have the same rules – to be good cops in a rotten city.
The mice-en-scene, where he met Maloneis the dark light (shooting day for night). He stands in the middle of the bridge looking through the newspaper, down at the water. Soft music is given us sadness that he has in his soul.
One low angle shot shows us Nash holding the newspaper also shows the lantern on the left. Next shot when Nash going to Malone. We see deep focus. In sharp focus is Malone and behind him the way which brightly lighten, on his left we see the half of Nash figure. That shot shows that Malone has a lot of experience, he is not young as Nash, and as a metter of fact he has a great hair. The next shots on the bridge always shows us Malone is going off and Nash is trying to catch him. When Nash asking Malone his name and union we see the montage. Before Nash asked him, Malone was going off him, after the question he turned and started to walk towards. Dolly shot now shows the back of Malone and the face of Nash. We see that after Nash?s back there is nothing, which emphasizes that he has no experience. This montage is given as a thought that they would come along eventually. We will see the assimilation of this scene with the scene when Nash?s division would catch the convoy of spirit beverages, which Capone wants to buy. This scene is happening in the day (natural sunlight). Also we mention here the fact that the Canadian police are working together with Chicago. The light hints that Ness?s deals are going much better. Father more the montage presenting here is made very professional. We see one car crossing the bridge from the left to the right (we first saw it on the bridge). Soon after that we see the reaction shot of Nash, sound bridge of the car?s sound, then point of view shows us the car (which happened to be occurred through trees, makes us alert) which moves to the left.
When Nash and Malone in the church mice-en-scene is similar to ?Citizen Kane?. We see them most of the time in low angle shot. The entire scene we see the ceiling above them. That shows that they are trapped. At the beginning of the scene, when Malone is talking about what will happen if Nash would go further to fight with Capone, we see the window right after Malone back. He is offering a deal to Nash. That is the way out, through Malone experience. After Nash?s back we see the picture of the God, which represents his clear thought. His speech, where he sworn to put Capone in jail. That he will do everything within the low. Then they agree to work with each other and here we see two windows, two ways from the trap.
The mice-en-scene at the lighttle house, where they are waiting for the Capon?s convoy to be arrived. It is worth to mention as the frame arranged Malone is always in the middle of the room and in the sharp focus. Nash, George, the accountant, all are standing near the windows, as Malone walking from character to another and given some advises – demonstrates against the significant of Malone. Especially impression was made when Malone made a trick by shooting the dead man in the head, so that the Capon?s manager was agreed to say everything he knows.
Malone?s characteristics are open in the scene when he and Ness enroll George Stone (young Italian). In that scene we see how Malone challenges George and finally made him angry. Although Malone makes him crazy his real purpose is to evaluate the reaction of George. To have seen his reaction Malone understood that this guy would suit them perfect. Now we also see that he is a good psychologist.
George enrolled to their division because of his fastness, and smartness. At the near end of the movie when Nash and George are going to take the book-keeper, we see the running wheel of the car, then camera goes up to black color annex and to the face of George (who has black color hair), that is plastic dissolve cut. The operator is comparing George?s fastness with the fast of the wheel. As a metter of fact he is very fast that he saved the Nash?s life.
When their first capture is accomplished, we see them sitting around the table having dinner, the recurring imager of reporter is occurring again to take a picture of them. This picture would always be with Nash as a memory of the grate victory. This reporter will occur again when the accountant is about to be killed. He follows Ness everywhere. The reporter reminds me of the one we saw in the movie ?Citizen Kane?. However in ?The Untouchables? we can see his face well. What it represents is that Ness is a significant man, who can change the life. The composition here is like a family one, the light is flat. In the middle of the table the candle is blazing. The camera pans from Nash showing everybody in the medium shot a couple of times and stops panning on Malone. Malone is opening the secret of his call box key, that they suit Nash. That means that he is opening Nash talent by teaching him. The key is symbolic which added by filmmakers advisedly, which appears a couple of time during the film conveys the idea of transferring the flag of justice.
Right after the mice-en-scene of Nash?s family the next shot shows us close-up shot of Capone?s face. The entire scene is about how the Capon?s family acting. Capone is always speaking by allegories. Here is everything hugger than in mice-en-scene of Nash?s squad. But the structure is the same the candles on the table, more people the composition is more formal, the camera panning. The camera always keeps Capone in the frame, and panning to the left and back to the right. The important part of these scene is when Capone kills one of his people. We see him in low-angle shot; he is in the shallow focus. After his back a person standing on the second floor. We don?t see the face of that person. This was made on purpose to show that this man could be Nash standing after him and watching what Capone is doing. Also there is a window again which has now light in it, which means that Capone is almost done and there is no way out for him. After Capone kills his man the camera zooms off the table so we see the picture of what had happened.
The jump cut when he opens the one door outside the house and the next one inside of the house. He is running upstairs to the room of his daughter (we see him coming to the stairs, than cut, sound bridge of his stapes and we in her room). The mice-en-scene shows the light of the lamps, the picture on the wall and the empty bad, that composition in deep focus. The door is opened then camera pens on the left slowly, than switch pan, and we see his daughter, she is all right. That really scared Nash and he starts fighting with Capone to the death.
For Ness this is a war within the borders of low, for Capone there are no rules. Capone propagates the horror so cruel that there is no evidence to get him. On the other hand he regards himself untouchable he neglects the income tax. The idea how to get Capone was given by the accountant from Washington in the plane. We see Nash and the accountant, he telling about the income tax of Capone, and how they can prosecute Capone. There is a sound bridge of the engine?s noise. Nash asked ?How do we link him to the money?? and the camera zooms away so we see that they are in the window. Nash got no answer to his question so he says, ? Go to sleep ?. His wards are mixed together with the engine noise. Camera keeps zooming off the window, panning to the left and we the plane?s engine and the cabin of the pilot. The sounds bridge hints that they going to hurt Capone even stronger than they have done before.
Ness follows by the idea of catching Capone a great deal, that he forgets about the safeness of his squad. He paid for this mistake by the life of the accountant. The piece of the shot in which we see the accountant at the last time, again remind me of the ?Citizen Kane?. The accountant with the caught man going inside the elevator, camera is moved (trucking shot) a lighttle to them but doesn?t enter the elevator. We hear the sound of music and see the triangle frame, there is parallel with the movie ?Citizen Kane?. The policeman who was in the elevator before, now is in the sharp focus, behind him there is the accountant with the caught man. That frame gives us the feel that the policeman is a very important person in that shot. The door is closed with the policemen, the caught men and the accountant, they of all dead when Ness opens the door. By this act Capone hit him very strongly. First his friend got shot, second all his made job was returned back from where it has started. It made him crazy up to the last board that he is ready to kill. To kill Capone.
At this moment he is close to cross the line between the low and lowlessness, to act as an animal he has a thought of killing his enemy. However if he killed Capone he would be the same murder. Malone helped him not cross that line. He caught Ness before the gun was taken out the pocket.
The scene in which Malone is killed appears as a breaking point of Ness?s right attitude to life. The scene is fool of cut-away shots. The Malone is dying, and Capone is listening to the opera. At the last time of his life Malone is able to give Ness the paper with the important informetion. We don?t know what kind of informetion this is, but with attached key, Malone shows him and us that this paper is the clue to Capone?s catch.
The most important scene of the movie is when Ness arrested Capone?s bookkeeper. The entire action is happening on the trains station stairs. Here we see the parallel with the movie ?Potemkin? where the important action happens to be on the stairs too. When Ness is looking down the stairs (long shot) he sees two people washing the floor. That give us a thought that here, at the station, the Mafia would be bitten. Also we see a woman with baby?s wagon as we saw in the movie ?Potemkin?. The soundtrack of the baby crying is mentioning the fact that something serious is going to happen. The montage is here again when Ness goes upstairs with the wagon and Capone?s people are going downstairs. At the time when Ness saw the Capone?s man, with whom he has met before, the baby is crying again and we go to the silence so we hear nothing but the shot of ruffles and steps. The mother is shouting and trying to stop the wagon and there are a lot of violence, remind us again of the mother from the ?Potemkin? and the people killing there. However we see cross cutting. At the beginning of the scene the shot is long and at the end they are happening faster as the noise of the wheel. The light (artificial) is flat, the colors are gray.
To keep the bookkeeper is not important to Capone?s band, the most important is not to give Ness to arrested him. For this they are ready to kill him, and ready to kill everybody who stay on their way. Ness needs to arrest the bookkeeper but he is not willing to pay for this by involving other people. Even the bookkeeper realized that.
The final fight between Capone and Ness occurred in the court. In that scene we see how Ness has been changed and how he is acting now without the help of Malone. He has to control himself on his own, because almost everything depends on him. When the killer of Malone goes from the courtroom with Ness they showed in low angle shot. We see the ceiling above them. And again there is similarity to ?Citizen Kane? when we see his statue at the library. The ceiling represents to us that they are trapped. The piece of the shot, when Ness is showing in low angle, with the ceiling above him emphasizes that he almost lost his case again. The insert shot of him lightening the cigarette shows us what he sees on the matchbox. Here we go there is the evidence against the killer of Malone. As he understands it, the next shot, camera goes from down to the up. It helps us understand that here he got him. By the stairs Ness follows the murder. We see them on the top of the roof. Once again we feel how far Ness has come. At this scene Ness kills the murder of Malone. Ness pushes him off the roof.
At this case Ness doesn?t act as a cop, he is taking the revenge. Having an informetion from George that all jurors are bought by Capone. He asks the judge to change the juror?s team, but the judge is not willing to do so. That gives a thought to Ness about the judge, perhaps that Capone bought the him also. He has no choice but to say that the judge?s name is on the lease too. In the movie we don?t know whether the judge was bought, but his williness to change the jurors innuendoes that he was. This classic rule discovers Alfred Hitchkoc ? guessing is more interesting than to be guessed ?.
Follow with Ness from the beginning of the movie to the end we see how he has been changed. Ness was willing to quit the deal, but he has always been inspired. At first by the mother of murdered girl, then by Malone. And at the end of the movie he arranged himself without other help. At the shot when Ness gives the key, by which he opened the deal of his life and closed the door of Capone?s chamber, to George with his luck and wishing him to accomplish his goals. The final shot shows him going away from the police to the place he came from.
That paper about the movie “The antochable”