365 films in 2016: film 45 (Dirty Harry 1971)

Screen Shot 2016-03-04 at 21.52.59Every now and then we get a film that defines a genre, somehow capturing all the elements of what can make a film of its type classic or iconic in one small package. I’m not saying Dirty Harry is perfect, but it’s certainly iconic. Dirty Harry starts with a slow, telephoto lens pan which immediately gives you a sense of what kind of film this is, not only does this build a lot of suspense it also gives the viewer a lot of time to take in the environment and setting of this movie, before we realise that the panning and speed are supposed to mimic the sniper scope the killer is looking though (by the way spoiler alert for anyone that hasn’t seen this pop culture phenomenon somehow and has avoided it for the last almost 50 years somehow).

Something about Harry is so captivating, he’s an anti-liberal stern red blooded american yet at the same time he has long, big hair. He’s an anomaly, he exists in a progressive world but he embodies characteristics that died before his time, he’s very similar to Anton Chigurh from No Country For Old Men in a way, they both are symbols of justice that can’t be swayed by exterior motives. I’ve always thought the 70’s were a great time for filmmakers to break the mold and create films with diverse and multilayered anti-heroes that made the viewers question the actions of the main character, and Harry lives up to this of course, he disobeys his superiors, tortures suspects, breaks the law and leaves the fate of criminals lives up to a game of chance. But as we all know, we all love a bad boy.

What i find interesting about this film is its cinematic feel, the telephoto lens shots, the repeating soundtrack, the wide 2.35 aspect ratio, everything about this film screams look at me, and for good reason too. Not only is Dirty Harry a great story it also has a message, Dirty Harry tries to shed some light on the flaws in the crime and punishment system, We see thought Harry as an Audience and we see his frustrations towards the city he’s trying to protect, its almost parody really.

From a distance Dirty Harry is an average cop movie about trying to catch a bad guy terrorising a city, but if you look closer you will find that Dirty Harry is one of the most multi-layered pieces of 70’s crime cinema. Dirty Harry is a 9/10.


In 2016 i will be watching 365 films (yes, i know there are 366 days this year) and writing about how I felt about them, I decided to do this just because over the last year or so i’ve Sort of pulled away from film and I wanna start to enjoy watching movies again. This will normally be just notes I made or thoughts I have about the film.


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