The film The Hurricane directed by Norman Jewison claims to accurately depict the life of injustice suffered by middleweight champion Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter. The director uses casting, characterisation, lighting and music in order to convince the audience of Carter’s innocence. Jewison uses evidence, in some cases false, to manipulate the audience into believing that the Hurricane is and always has been an innocent man.
This clever manipulation is clearly evident in his casting and characterization choices of Lezra to emotionally vest audiences into his journey alongside Rubin Carter’s.
This technique is also used to create and perfect the other cast members to guide viewer’s thoughts and opinions as the director wishes. Furthermore, the lighting and music are blatantly manoeuvred to garner an emotional reaction from audiences, this is apparent in the poignant scenes of Carter as the victim of tragic injustice. Without Jewison’s clear bias filmmaking, the audiences would have been left with a different view of Carter. Casting and characterization in the film The Hurricane are utilized to persuade viewers of The Hurricane’s innocence.
The casting of the characters Rubin Carter, Lezra Martin, Lisa Peters, Sam Chaiton, Terry Swinton and Lt. Jimmy Williams was necessary to create the image of goodness, as we associate attractive people with being good and kind hearted. Athletically appealing actors have been cast in all these roles in order for us to automatically assume them to be good. However, Det. Sgt. Della Pesca and the Prison Warden (the major villains) are cast as old, overweight, balding men to assure us of their wickedness.
By casting Rubin Carter as an attractive man the director persuades us into believing in Carter’s innocence. Furthermore, the character of Lezra Martin is carefully created to work as an audience stand in for the film. This technique is used so Lezra works as our stand in to Carter’s life. Lezra, like the viewer is new to Carter’s life and his story, while he learns about Carter, so do the audience, as he grows to love and trust Carter, so do the audience. Like Lezra the viewers become attached and emotionally vested in The Hurricane, so the questioning of his innocence becomes ludicrous to the viewers.
The film technique of manipulating the viewer’s perspective is also found in the use of lighting. The use of lighting in the film The Hurricane positions the viewer into trusting that Hurricane Carter is an innocent man. Jewison’s use of lighting to persuade the viewer is evident in an early scene depicting Carter and Della Pesca facing towards each other, the only light in the frame is on the operating table behind them, so the audience can only see the side on silhouettes of both Rubin Carter and Det. Sgt.
Della Pesca but no detail in their faces. In this scene, we see the stark contrast of their profiles, The Hurricane’s soft features and Della Pesca’s pointed and upturned features. This technique which has been used since the times of ancient Greek theatre is used to depict the proganist , usually the hero, with soft flowing features and the antagonist, usually the villain, with sharp, pointed features. By doing this, Norman Jewison has automatically positioned the audience to see Rubin Carter as a good and innocent man.
This sort of positioning is also particularly evident in Jewison’s use of music in the film. Norman Jewison emotionally influences the viewer into believing that Carter is innocent through his meticulous use of music in The Hurricane. The audience slowly finds themselves emotionally attached to the story through subtle but effective music. At various points in the film a grave, slow, low, jazz melody plays which always coincides with a scene where the viewers are positioned to believe injustice is shown.
When Della Pesca interrogates a young Rubin Carter, when Rubin is brought into the hospital of the victim, during The Hurricane’s first trail as well as when Carter is put into solitary confinement by the ruthless prison warden. The audience is persuaded into associating this music with injustice, so with the use of this music at the right point, such as when The Hurricane is imprisoned the viewers automatically believe it is injustice, which causes us to feel emotionally effected by this and believe in his innocence.
Norman Jewison positions viewers of the film The Hurricane to see Rubin Carter as an innocent man. This is done through casting the protagonist’s role to an aesthetically pleasing man, the casting of the antagonist’s role to an older, unattractive man, the characterisation of Lezra Martin, the precise lighting of scenes and the meticulous use of emotion triggering music. Without these manipulative film techniques, viewers would have been left with a different image of Rubin Carter and a greater doubt of his innocence.