On the Waterfront

‘On the Waterfront reveals the powerlessness of the individual against a corrupt ruling group.’ Do you agree?

Elia Kazan’s film, On The Waterfront, demonstrates the extent to which a corrupt group can eliminate the power of the individual. Set in 1954, the film portrays the realism of desperation and corruption in the city of Hoboken, New Jersey. The initial scenes outline the intense control the Crime Commission have over the longshoreman. Johnny Friendly is the individual responsible for holding majority of the control; he then empowers his companions as they take the role of his subordinate authority. It is the protagonist, Terry Malloy, who is responsible for altering this complete power along with the contribution of many, including both Father Barry and Edie. The use of mise-en-scene provides the film with additional authenticity through emotional music, costuming and remarkable camera use. The black and white style implicates the era and adds to the severity of countless scenes in the film.
Johnny Friendly, along with his companions, demonstrates immense power over the longshoremen to the extent that they become fearful to stand up for their “rights”. Through the use of cinematic techniques the endless power which the “mob” possesses is illustrated; the initial scenes portray them as far superior in their chic attire, wearing suits with ties, shoes that would show their reflection, along with stylish hats. In great contrast, the camera continually looks down upon the longshoreman, including Terry, who stand hunched over wrapped in their coats which have more holes “than the Pittsburgh infield”. It is the deaths of both Joey Doyle and Kayo Dugan which illustrate the lack of compassion the authority share for the longshoreman who are simply trying to earn their survival. The smug facial expression and amusement in the faces of the “mob”, following Joey’s fall, outline their carelessness and support the idea that “a lousy buck is more important than the...