Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade November 2001

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The movie China Town, directed by Roman Polanski, is a non-traditional hard-nosed detective film made in the 70's. In the beginning, the film seems like any other detective films where the protagonist comes and solves the problems and catches the antagonists. The typical elements of character types are there. J.J. Gittes, the central character played by Jack Nicholson, is a private detective in Los Angeles. Sharing the spotlight is Fay Dunaway playing the femme fatale Evelyn Mulwray. Chinatown has formal elements indicative that it is going to be in the style of traditional Film Noir hardboiled detective, but as the movie goes, it becomes more apparent that this movie is not like any other detective stories. In this movie, the director uses cinematic techniques like camera movement, control of the viewpoint, focus, and level of detail to help the audiences understand what the characters emotion and feelings.

In the ending of the movie China Town, Jake Gittes ends up with nothing.

He loses the girl he loves to a bullet; he loses the girl he is trying to protect to the sinister villain Noah Cross. The last shot of the film leaves the audience with no hope for the future. Gittes is back in China Town, the place he has an obvious contempt for, the city that took his ex wife's life. As the camera cranes upward opening the frame, and the crowd of Chinese people surrounds the scene, Gittes is escorted away, moving to the background. We are left with the impression of watching the retreat of someone who has just been bested and is going home alone in defeat with nothing but pain. This is a very dark ending, there is no hero getting the girl, or the split of emotions when the hero...

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