Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Cat People (1942) Review

‘Cat People’ 1942
Directed by: Jacques Tourneur

An American man, Oliver Reed (Kent Smith) marries a Serbian immigrant Irena (Simone Simon) who fears that she will turn into the cat person of her homeland's fables if they are intimate together, but this is only the beginning to their problems…

This movie (unlike most) doesn’t come with a large amount of gore, nor does it come with a large body count, but it doesn’t come with suspense and darkness, this could be relevant to the movie having a very tight budget so they opted for an ‘easier’ way to put tension and fear into the audience… which was written particularly well by DeWitt Bodeen.

The movie itself is overwhelmed with darkness in areas that have great significant reasoning, for example, at one point where the lead lady, Simone Simon who plays Irena when she visits a physician, she is placed upon a chair where only a small light is shining upon her face, this is to illuminate the fact she is almost in a trance, and the only part of her body that is currently in use is her brain and soul.

Light and darkness is used one again for a famous chase scene between Irena and one of Oliver’s close work colleagues, Alice, we see this scene in central park, where Alice is being stalked by Irena, we only see the characters when they are lit by lamp posts, until the noise of Irena’s high heels stops, this catches the attention of Alice, and she panics believing to be pursued by something not human, until the scene is abruptly stopped by a bus entering the scene, this is used even in contemporary films such as Final Destination which is famous for a bus scene where one girl is hit and killed instantly.

Shadows are also very present throughout the movie, for example, at one stage when the couple have a pet canary, the cage is shown as a shadow again Irena’s dressing scene, and on the scene is a very large image of a puma.

“…just terror in the shadows…”(http://www.film4.com/reviews/1942/cat-people)

“Cat People wasn't frightening like a slasher movie, using shocks and gore, but frightening in an eerie, mysterious way that was hard to define; the screen harbored unseen threats, and there was an undertone of sexual danger that was more ominous…”

And yet it is still impressive that...

“…the film features no actors in cat-suits, no explicit special effects, just terror in the shadows.”(http://www.film4.com/reviews/1942/cat-people)

There are other subtitle animal hints within the movie also, for example, at one point when Irena is walking down some stairs she stops to look onto the room, when there is a statue of Anubis in front of her; Anubis is also a Egyptian God which is part man part dog, alongside this is her making cat like markings into a sofa, as well as clinging to a door when her husband wishes her goodnight with a scream of a puma from the zoo in the background noise...


The film itself shows many signs of age, from the only black person within the whole movie was a waitress, as well as the form of sex, where it is never emphasised but one mentioned ‘metaphorically’ when Irena mentions wanting to be Oliver’s wife, speaking of which is follows well onto the idea of sex being related to becoming a monster, which was perceived greatly through this film, it was ‘unwomanly’ to lust too much thus making women feel like they have been sinful, and most feel that being sinful follows closely to being a monster of life.

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