What is the significance of the film ending with commercials along with Beale's murder?
Lumet shows Beale's murder on one of four screens. Alongside it is commercials for airlines and soft drinks. The significance of this imagery is that Lumet is saying murder has become commercialized. It has become what gets the ratings for the networks in order that they can sell their ad space to companies such as airlines for big dollars. Thus, murder has been legitimized by the media for profit.
What is the significance of Lumet shooting Beale with the camera into the lights during his on-air speech?
Lumet has created a film that goes beyond reality and into the realm of magical realism, a term that essentially means that what is being seen appears so incredible that it is hard to believe it is actually happening. It seems to go above reality. Lumet is able to show this in a single shot as he composes Beale with outstretched arms while on live tv from behind. He shoots directly into the stage lights that burn onto Beale. The lights become stars in appearance and add to the nature of the tone being magical realism.
What is the significance of the close-up of Beale's dead body at the end of the film?
Beale has been shot and killed on live television. We see him lying lifeless and then the studio camera pushes into a closeup of him while the studio audience is in stunned silence. The significance of this is that a man's life has just been taken and instead of there being horror at the sight of this murder, the single response is to film it in a close-up which shows how over-sensitized the world is becoming to these sights...and this was in 1976.
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