While rises in this film – the

While some people complain that “Hell
or High Water” is a contemporary Western film with nothing new to offer, it
seems that “Hell or High Water”, revitalizes the typical Western genre in terms of the
overall message of the film and aesthetic measurements. In this paper, I will
show how directing and cinematography, especially camera movements, relate to
the theme of this film.

     First of all, I will explain the message the film tries to deliver. “Hell or High Water” is a film about much more than just robbing
banks. The overall message of the film is related to economic problems and show
us what people have to go for the sake of the well-being of their family. A
good example that proves this statement is shown in the sequence scene of the
film. “3 tours in Iraq but no bailout for people like us” is written on a graffiti
at the wall and I believe it indicates to us the main problem that rises in
this film – the economic crisis, problems of generation that living through the
poverty. Another one example is when brothers drive from town to town and
passing signs: “Debt relief”, “In debt?”.  These signs indicate that not only Toby and
Tanner face with problem of money’s lack- Texas mired in debt.  The distinctive feature of this film from
typical Westerns is presence of equally important characters. Usually typical Westerns revolves around the
protagonist either defending the town against the antagonist. However, in “Hell
or High Water” there are no clear heroes and
there are no clear villains. This feature provides an opportunity to audience
chose by themselves on the whose sides there are. Moreover, both duo of
protagonists and antagonists are complete each other. For example, whereas
Tanner is deadly with guns, Toby has never shot anyone. Despite brothers’
differences, same purpose-the protection of the family, unites them. The
ranger’s duo-Markus and Alberto, complete each other as well. Responsible and
serious in everything Alberto and seemingly carefree Marcus that teasing Alberto
with jokes. These opposite characters represent untypical rangers that carry
out justice.

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Second, I will talk about some film techniques I found crucial to
enhance the overall message of the film. 
Back again to the sequence scene, director uses camera movements that
attract audience attention from the first seconds of the film. Camera follows
the blue car, in which robbers are sitting and at the same time follows bank’s
employee to show story from different person’s point of view. As this is an
establishing shot, director uses long take.

I think this critical technique was used not only to show location,
but also to create a dramatic aspect- audience assume that something bad is
going to happen.

Another thing I would like to
mention is camera movements. During the film camera movements in general
were slow compare to typical Western films or thrillers. Usually we expect a breathtaking
action scenes in which camera movements are unstable and editing of one scene
was made with lots of shots. However, “Hell or High Water” broke our
expectations with slow stable camera movements and predictable ABAB patterns
editing. It seems that directors use mostly still shots to show that Texas
trapped in time, as well as all the banks that Toby and Tanner robbed. Probably
the fact that all this towns were left allowed brothers rob banks easily. I
would say that final shootout of Tanner with Rangers scene is most powerful, since
in the one scene directors used a lot of different camera movements. Without a
doubt, the sense of dynamism of this scene was created with editing as well,
however the usage of such technique’s like panning, tracking, and craning
played a main role to further the filmmaker’s intention that story of robbers
coming to end. Also, I found interesting usage of handheld shots for creating
“real life” feeling and probably for better understanding of character’s

     Lastly, I will briefly mention about some components
of Mise-en-scène in “Hell or High Water”. Costumes of the characters were
perfectly matched with landscapes of the nature. Overall look of the film seems
very natural as well and follows similar color range- yellow, brown, khaki.
More, than anything, location has an important significance. Despite the
fact, that Toby and Tanner travel from one city to another throughout Texas, it
seems that the action takes place in same location, because all towns are
unremarkable and like each other. And similar natural landscapes even more
confuse the viewer. I think that the directors chose this location not by
accident, but signify that not only Texas has economic crisis. And in the
ending scene Toby mentions: “I been poor my whole life. So were my parents, and
their parents before them. Like a disease, passed from generation to
generation. And that’s what it becomes, a sickness. Infecting every person you
know … “.  Poverty has no place and time.
It can overtake everyone- anywhere and anytime