Opportunity to make this film Essay
Opportunity to make this film
“Let him have it, Chris” are the words used by Derek. The audience could interpret this statement in two different ways – as an instruction to shoot or as a request to hand the weapon over. The audience is led to believe that Bentley meant the latter, but Craig interprets the line in the first way. He fires at the detective, wounding him in the shoulder. The impulsive movement of the camera and the unmistakeable sound of a gunshot are both used, with great effect, to scandalize the audience. The detective then retreats for cover, verbally and physically abusing Derek, “Have you got a fucking gun, too, eh?
” He pushes him hard against the wall using his own body as a ram. This may have been to increase his levels of cover, reducing a possible target, but the audience think of it as intimidating Derek. The detective then proceeds to caution Bentley, but groans with pain before he can finish. He then finds the knuckle duster Bentley is carrying, a present from Craig. He seems to blame Bentley, forcing him against the wall, causing the audience to feel sorry for him even though what he has done is clearly wrong. The next scene is showing Craig reloading his weapon behind an access point to the roof.
After each round he loads into the magazine, a police officer is shown in a police station being handed a gun before running out of shot. This gives the viewers the impression that each round in Craig’s weapon is meant for that particular officer. This again makes the audience feel that he’s there to kill, not just to get away, condemning him as some sort of maniac. The next thing shown is Chris firing randomly into the air as he moves closer to the camera. It shows him as being much more confident than before, as though this event was his rite of passage, his destiny.
His teeth are clenched, ready for war and he wears a crazy smile, as though he is indeed insane. This confidence is not shared by Bentley, however, who is shown to be scared and worried. Later on, the same actions are taking place but as Craig walks amongst the skylights on the roof they light up, signifying that police were now inside the building. Police are shown to be in the very stairwell that Derek and the DC are hiding behind. An officer approaches the door, but before he can open it, another says “Here, let me”. This is ironic as the next sequence of events will show.
The colour inside this tiny room is once again gold, annotating these characters as friendly. As the first officer jumps out from the door to join up with his colleague he is immediately shot by Craig. As this happens, the speed of the film slows, showing you the full gore of the fall the policeman has to take. The music then turns low as if to say ‘that wasn’t a good idea… ‘. As DC Fairfax runs inside shouting “Get me a fucking gun”, Derek wanders to the body. The camera then switches to a different shot, this one as though the audience are in Derek’s head.
The camera tentatively swoops from normal eye level to the body and then back up. He then gazes back at Craig, muttering “You shot him”. “Stay back”. At this point the audience does know that Craig has turned into a maniac, rejecting one of his friends. Two officers then grab Derek and use him as a shield to retreat back to the stairs. This makes Bentley appear as just a tool rather than a person, the police regarding him as a means to an end rather that an end in itself. “You bastard” uttered a police officer lingering in the stairwell as the two grasped him in a head – lock.
Now the door was open the colour inside the building had changed, or been infected with the chilling blue. Because of that the police had changed from someone the audience could trust into someone to be wary of. Meanwhile, Craig continues to fire randomly into the air, shouting abuse at the people present, “You ain’t getting up here that way copper”, “Come on then, I’m only sixteen”. This action shows the audience his insanity and the amount of courage he has because this statement makes the audience believe that he feels he can take on the world.
Eventually DC Fairfax re-emerges with a revolver too. He bides his time, waiting behind the cover of the stairwell. After a burst of fire, the audience hear a click. It is clear to all but Craig what this means. Fairfax advances, into no – man’s land, ready to face off his opponent. “Stay back”, says Chris, pointing the gun at the detective. But he continues to advance. Click. Click, Click. Craig’s out of ammunition. He begins to step backwards, away from Fairfax. In a desperate attempt to end it, Craig turns the gun on himself and pulls the trigger, braced for impact. Click Click Click.
He now begins to whimper, Fairfax pushing him further and further away. In a last – ditch attempt, Craig summersaults from the roof onto a nearby greenhouse. The siege had ended. Throughout the whole of the scene, chilling blue was used to amplify the feeling of dread the audience are already feeling. This case is well publicised in all types of media, although not all sources sympathise with Derek. The Daily mail, the best selling newspaper at the time, printed a highly sensationalised and inaccurate report which claims Craig was in possession of a sten gun, a fully automatic weapon of devastating proportions.
After the “battle” they report a heroic chase of the gunmen, over rooftops and down fire escapes. This relates to the film well, as this is biased, but on the part of the police, a normal response to murder. Another curious aspect of the investigation is whether Bentley actually even said the words that eventually killed him. During the trial, Craig denied the words were said. One police officer confirmed this in his statement, writing, “I did not write it down because I did not hear it. I did not hear it down because it was not said”. Claude Pain’s statement was later lost by police.
Controversy still shrouds this topic, and, indeed, the whole court case’s truth. It has been suggested in the book ‘Let Him Have It, Chris’ by M. J. Trow that the words that hung Bentley may have been ‘borrowed’ from the case of Rex V. Appleby who was hung for inciting his accomplice to kill a policeman by shouting “Let him have it, he is all alone”. Did the police believe what had hung Appleby would hang Bentley? These statements point out yet more bias acts to swing the trial in favour of the police. It seems that there is much biased activity within the real life events as well as the film.
While the director has chosen that the character should say these words, he has ignored the fact the police constable killed on the roof, Sydney Miles, was a father of two. This may have been omitted so as not to prevent the audience feeling sympathy towards Derek and even some sympathy towards Chris. The next scene is after the court case and the sentence has been passed. The family has campaigned Bentley’s innocence and found many to believe this too. The trial, too, has been uncovered as a sham. It is discovered that Derek has the mental age of eleven and should never have been tried.
Victory seems almost certain for the Bentley’s, but their pleas for a pardon have been rejected. Many feel this an injustice. The scene starts with Derek’s father walking out, into his street, and looking around in despair. Although this action is shown for a mere two seconds, if that, a lot can be deduced. His pace is slow, his face pensive. As he walks out, the postman greets him with just one letter, a great deal less than days before. The camera zooms out, to reveal the street empty. This creates a sense of solace, that no-one is there to support the family.
The roads are lined with decaying leaves, a sign that Derek is missed, for it was his job to clear them up. Their position is important, too. They are all in the gutter, suggesting that the father, like the leaves, is in the gutter too. The leaves are also dying, a subliminal message of what’s to come. The next event is the constant switching of shot from the cell of Derek to the family’s sitting room with them all gathered round, supporting each other. Nothing happens during these scenes, but the family is shown expressing their emotions. The use of this technique shows a direct link between them and Derek.
Once again, Derek, or at least his face, is bathed in an almost angelic light. Close ups of everyone’s faces are used to convey just how much emotion he family are feeling. This technique also causes the audience to feel their sadness with the family, as though they were a member of that family. The section following that is of Bentley sitting down, crouched forward, over himself like an animal trying to protect itself. The vicar is reciting the Lord’s Prayer and Derek is saying as much as he can. This action suggests he now has no-one that can help him but God.
He has stopped denying the inevitable and has accepted it. Gold is the predominant colour in this scene, warming the characters involved as though they are saints. The prayer is also what was said by the little girl before she spots Craig and Bentley climbing over the gates of the factory. This provides a waypoint in the film the audience can revisit, as though to say “What if…? ” The family is shown in the living room once again, but this time from above. This effect makes it feel like Derek is looking down at them, as though already dead. It tell the audience that there is only one future for Derek.
This reciting is interrupted, however, by the guard telling him it’s time in a more forceful way. As soon as the door is flung open, the colour inside the room is changed by that of the outside. It is now dark and blue once more, suggesting, quite rightly, that the mood inside the cell has changed. The ensuing action is very rapid, providing a harsh contrast between the relaxed readings of the vicar and the short, sharp officials. The first line said is “Here, drink this”. Once Derek has drunk the liquid the camera acts, once again, like the audience are looking at the events through Derek’s perspective.
This rapid series of events gives the audience an impression of force, that Derek is being pushed into something that should never have happened. The camera cuts to Derek’s supporters outside the prison, showing he audience that even the general public believe what will happen is wrong, reinforcing the audience’s belief. The camera shows the crowd and then pans upward, showing the large towers of the prison. This is to show that the government is more far powerful than the people below. The coat of arms lies on the wall, meant to signify justice.
The audience are now mentally branding everyone running the prison as evil. The scene shows that everyone is behind Derek, and makes the viewers ask why? Why did this happen? The camera shows Derek being led to the gallows, between two lines of executioners. The camera pans around these lines, showing, once again, the full might of authority. It makes the audience as well as Bentley feel as though there is no way out, no going back. Derek is taken into the execution room, blindfolded and hung. Once the blindfold is added, the music stops and now all the audience can hear is Derek’s loud breathing.
This creates a sense of apprehension, like they don’t want to see what is about to happen. The action is once again very rapid, like the executioners don’t even want to be there. The room is dark and has no source of light apart from a small window. As the execution is completed, Derek’s shoes are shown falling off his feet and hitting the floor. There is now a lingering shot of them. They symbolise Derek, in a way. They give the impression that this is all that is left of him. They also highlight his mental age once more as they aren’t tied.
After Derek is killed, the camera flies up, out of the room and returns to the family. This could be his spirit, flying away and returning to his home and family once more. As this takes place, there is no music, just the scared and agitated breathing of Derek. As the spirit enters the home, the audience can see the colours have changed. What was once lit with gold and yellow is now illuminated using the same chilling blue of that fateful night. This signifies that the mood inside the house has changed from warm and welcoming to cold and unforgiving.
The family are shown crying on each other’s shoulders and the camera pans round the room to the clock, which is now the only thing audible over the crying. As the whimpers grow louder, the clock stops. This signifies that time has run out for Derek. As the credits begin to roll, the crying is faded out and silence follows. Medak has used every tool at his disposal to promote sympathy for Bentley and his family. The lighting is dark and harsh when showing characters that bring Derek down, while those that are friendly towards him are lit using gold and yellow.
The music is repetitive and unforgiving, creating links to previous scenes it the audience’s mind. Often there are large gaps with no music whatsoever to emphasize the action taking place. The camera often switches from a third person view to the action as though it were Derek to show the audience exactly what he can see. The camera also persists in showing the audience of Derek’s suffering. The dialogue of many other characters involves swearing regularly, but not in the case of Derek or his family. They are shown to be as near angelic as humanly possible.
Derek’s dialogue is childlike and predictable, another method of showing the audience his mental age. The director has achieved his goal tremendously well. The director, in my view, has strayed from the truth very little, but has neglected to include certain aspects of the story altogether to promote sympathy for Bentley and his family. The film is, indeed biased, and that is clear in the audiences mind as the film ends, but then, most people, having been given the opportunity to make this film, would have produced it as biased.
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 10 July 2017
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