Monday, September 15, 2014

The Usual Suspects

One of the main themes throughout The Usual Suspects was smoking. This wasn't just because it took place before people were aware that smoking will kill you and smoking was cool. From an artistic standpoint, it has a metaphorical significance in the realistic movie. The cigarette smoke represents the smoke-and-mirrors deceptive nature of the entire movie. Everything is all about making other people do what you want to get something you need. And, of course, the entire film leading up to make you think you're so clever and you've figured out that Keaton is Keyser Soze, when it was diminutive Verbal all along. All of this was represented with the cigarettes present throughout the movie.

The biggest symbol and theme throughout the film was the devil. Verbal says (of Keyser Soze) "The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist." The devil is represented a number of ways. In the scene when all of the criminals are first picked up on the car charge that brings them into the lineup in the first place, there is an element of red in all of the shots until you get to Keaton. Keaton is wearing beige, surrounded by neutral tones, and shown from a low-angle shot, making it clear that he will be the leader. Keyser Soze is painted the entire time as the devil by Verbal. Always in control, always getting exactly what he wants. He says, "How can you shoot the devil in the back? What if you miss?" This quote shows how people think of Keyser Soze, how he's the devil and you need to be absolutely sure that you're going to kill him before you do. What's most interesting about the quote is how it's "shoot the devil in the back". Almost like it would be as much of a regret to kill such a legend as a good thing for the world. Or that by killing someone that everybody is afraid of is somehow a betrayal of him. Knowing that Verbal is Keyser Soze helps that make slightly more sense, but it is an interesting commentary on the devil nonetheless.

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