Sunday, February 20, 2011

Thief analysis - part 9: Frank wants to escape ordinary space-time


Frank's montage-like photo depicts various places, persons, and events, from his past, present, and (desired) future life. The photo collects all these and presents them such that they are all 'here and now'.

Earlier in the analysis we observed that Frank is like a 'rat in a machine'; what this represents is that he is constricted in space. Whenever Frank goes driving, what is being represented is the idea that he is piloting an airplane which 'never takes off'; this in turn represents Frank's inability, in his current environment, to escape the bonds of Earth, i.e., to unshackle himself from the aforementioned space constriction.

Frank has constructed a montage depicting how he wants things to be in his life; and, as noted in the caption accompanying the screencap above, this montage has the effect of presenting all these things as coexisting in the 'here and now', i.e., all times and places co-exist at once. What is ultimately being represented is this: Frank desires to escape the constraints of ordinary space and time. This is to be accomplished by the act of committing his final robbery, and then 'retiring' and moving to California with Jessie and their baby.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Thief analysis - part 8: Outside the cage looking in


Frank takes his seat in Attaglia's office. Outside the office window we see a large wheel; what's being depicted is the view we'd have from outside a rodent's cage looking in, with the window-panes representing the bars of the cage itself, and the wheel comprising the animal's running-wheel. This is all tied in with the 'rat in a machine' metaphor that was mentioned earlier. Since Frank is depicted as outside the cage in this scene, and since Attaglia's company is 'L and A Plating', which is a reference to Los Angeles (i.e., 'L.A.'), this scene also suggests that the state of California itself lies outside a metaphorical cage - that is, the 'cage' of ordinary space and time; this is why Frank wants to spend his retirement there.


Friday, February 11, 2011

Thief analysis - part 7: Descent into Hell


Top left: Exterior view of the Bank of California building. The vault to be robbed lies at the third level down from the rooftop. This level can be taken as the fourth circle of Dante's Inferno (Hell), which is where the greedy are punished, if we consider the first circle (Limbo) to be represented by the world in which Frank, Leo, and the others live. Top right: Frank tells Leo that the vault robbery job will require 16-18 hours inside the building. Above left: The men work their way through the roof while Tangerine Dream's Igneous plays. Certain types of igneous rock lie near the Earth's surface; what is being represented here is the idea that the men are cutting through the Earth's crust. Above right: The robbery in progress. The sparks and flames here represent the fires of Hell.


Saturday, February 5, 2011

Thief analysis - part 6: Depiction of the Holy Spirit


Frank (left) sits with a fisherman on a jetty in a lake.

The scene depicted in the above screen capture is reminiscent of sailing. It is meant to metaphorically depict the Holy Spirit moving at the beginning of creation. From the bible, Genesis 1:2 [New International Version]:

Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

The Holy Spirit is one of three entities contained within the Christian Holy Trinity, the other two being God the Father and God the Son (Jesus).


Thief analysis - part 5: More references to flying


The view outside this diner window looks similar to what one might see looking out of an airport waiting area window at night, i.e., runways with lights.

Luggage sitting on a cart on the street - reminiscent of what one would see at an airport.

It must be the case that the allusions to aircraft and flying in the movie have something to do with the 'closed-in' feel of the movie discussed in part 2: If Frank is like a rat in a machine, he would desire to escape his tight surroundings by metaphorically 'taking flight'.


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Thief analysis - part 4: Mann's hint to us that there's a hidden plot in the movie


Top left: During the hearing to release Okla from prison, the judge signals to the lawyer whom Frank hired, holding up four fingers on each hand, i.e., eight total; this is a signal that he wants $8,000 (i.e., as a bribe) to grant the release. Top right: The lawyer signals back that he is only willing to pay $4,000. Above left: The judge is willing to accept $6,000. Above right: The lawyer agrees to this amount. Left: The lawyer tells Frank he needs six thousand for the judge; Frank hands the lawyer an envelope containing $10,000 for the judge and the lawyer's fee together.

The sequence of events depicted by the above screen captures constitutes Michael Mann's clue to us, the audience, that there is more going on in the movie than just the surface action. In fact, the movie contains a 'hidden' plot, which we will explore later.


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Thief analysis - part 3: References to flying and aircraft


This view down a boulevard, with street lights on either side, is reminiscent of the view down an airport runway.

This burning car in Frank's lot looks somewhat similar to a jet aircraft with flames coming from its engines.

View from inside Frank's car: After a heist, Barry opens a roll-up door so that Frank can maneuver the car into a storage area. This view is similar to what an airplane pilot might see when pulling into a hangar.

In Thief, there are several references to aircraft and flying. For example, in the diner scene, when Frank is describing to Jessie his prison experience, he says of the warden there, "If that slob was a penologist, I'm a jet airplane pilot." And in an earlier scene, when Frank is ordering his lot attendant to move some cars around, three of the auto models he mentions are Mercury, Mark IV, and Cougar. We note that Mercury is also the name of an aircraft company, and Mark IV and Cougar are types of aircraft.


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Thief analysis - part 2: The movie's 'closed-in' feeling


At the start of the movie: a view just above a narrow street at night, with fire escapes hanging from the sides of the surrounding buildings.

A boulevard with walls and overpasses.

This view of the stairwell inside the Bank of California building is reminiscent of a tight maze.

As indicted by some of the scenery in Thief, such as that shown in the three screencaps above, the film has a kind of 'claustrophobic' feeling to it; the city is being depicted as a labyrinthine 'machine'. Within this context, Frank represents a 'rat in a machine'.


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