High Noon

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade December 2001

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In Zimmerman's High Noon (1952), one is faced with the dilemmas of a small mid-western town. I use the word faced deliberately. It seems that Zimmerman has a deep love for facial close ups. What is not said in this film is more important than what is vocalized.

The characters often speak with their faces. This is very apparent with the shot of Lloyd Bridges while he sits in the bar watching Kane walk up the street. You can see the change that his character takes on in this shot. He seems to come to a conclusion about Kane that the audience clearly notices through Bridge's eyes.

Another good example is later in the film, during one of the greatest editing sequences I've seen in a Western, when Zimmerman shows close-ups of almost all the characters in the film. They each remain on the screen for only four beats, but it's as if their whole message throughout the film is displayed in those mere four seconds.

Each character's distresses and convictions are shown, and finally the sequence concludes with the sound of the train horn announcing Miller's approach.

So with all these great facial close-ups, what shot does Zimmerman use to show Cooper's main distress? One would think that it would be a glorious close-up with pounding music and a look in Cooper's eyes that would not be easily forgotten. However, Zimmerman does just the opposite.

In the shot he chose, you hardly see Cooper's face at all. His expression doesn't matter. The camera moves away from Cooper and sweeps up to an extreme long shot of the whole town, and you see that Cooper is all alone. He stands by himself in the middle of the street awaiting his four attackers to come. The town has betrayed him, and...