In the Heat of the Night

In the Heat of the Night

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In the Heat of the Night

I have chosen to study the film "In the Heat of the Night". In
particular, I have chosen to study the scene in which Tibbs and
Golesby confront Endicott at his villa on his plantation.

Firstly, I watched the scene through a couple of times to try and pick
up an overall idea of the theme of the scene. The scene is quite long,
containing 56 shots in total. The shots themselves are also long, as
what is going on is a wordy confrontation, not a violent one, unlike
in the car chase scene, where all the shots are very quick; a long
shot brings an air of calm, whereas a quick, snappy shot conveys a
sense of action. This makes the action be almost comic book in style,
because you are seeing not linear movement, but what is almost a
series of stills or very quick movements. However, in the Endicott
scene, everything is very linear and slow moving in comparison. The
scene overall is quite light and pleasant, especially out the front of
Endicott's house and in his greenhouse. This pleasant outlook is often
in stark contrast to what is being said.

What I did next is to watch the scene through several times without
sound, to try and pick up the purely visual points in the scene. The
first shot struck me as an ominous one; it is of the camera pointing
directly into the cutting blades of a large cutting machine, which is
moving towards the camera. If nothing else, it really catches the
attention of the viewer as a powerful image. Personally, I think it is
an omen of bad things to come. After the cotton-picker has "eaten" the
camera from the first shot, the screen pans out and you see an
overview of the fields. They are full of black slaves, assumedly,
picking the cotton. A few of the picking machines can be seen, but the
black slaves are picking the majority of the cotton by hand. Apart
from the machines, there is not much there to say that this is the

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twentieth century; the age of enlightenment. Nothing much would seem
to have changes since the eighteenth or nineteenth centuries. As
Golesby's car enters Endicott's garden, the camera is in a corner of
the garden, and does a long panning shot to watch the car move up
Endicott's driveway. This allows for an excellent view of Endicott's
garden and house, and it is in stark contrast with both the fields
outside of its sanctuary and of the black mechanic's house at which
Tibbs is staying. It is a beautiful house with and equally beautiful
garden; a haven of peace and tranquillity, spoilt by the thought of
the slaves in the fields that paid for it in their own sweat, blood
and toil.

As Tibbs and Golesby walk up the path to the generous front porch in
front of the house, they pass a small figurine of a Negro butler,
heavily caricatured to be as insulting as possible. Tibbs walks past
it, ignoring it completely, but Golesby rubs its head, almost
affectionately, as he walks past. I interpret that to mean that that
he is a good person. He, as most of the people in the south had at
this time, has been brought up with the idea that black people are
less than human. But, because, as the film shows, he is deep down a
good person, he has taken this to mean that black people are like
children, to be protected, rather than sub-human slaves to be
exploited, which is obviously how Endicott feels.

When they knock on the door, it is answered by Henry, Endicott's
butler, who then leads them around to the greenhouse, where Endicott
is. As they walk along the porch, the camera shows the three of them
walking together. This highlights one of the most important
comparisons in the scene; that between Tibbs and Henry.
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