Let Him Have It Essay, Research Paper
Let Him Have It
How does Peter Medak, director of Let Him Have It create sympathy for Derek Bentley?
The opening scene of this film has slow piano solo music playing, with white
Credits on a black background to show that the film is serious. It is actually a drama documentary, which means that as well as being dramatic the film is also factual.
From the start of the film, Peter Medak chose to present Derek Bentley as a victim. The first thing in the film that you see is a high angled shot of Derek trapped under the rubble of a building with fire, destruction and panic going on around him. This gives you the feeling of entrapment. Another reason why Derek is potrayed as a victim is because he has epilepsy with a mental age of about eleven or twelve. His real age is nineteen. He has a fit after being released from the rubble, and there is a close-up of his face. Throughout the film Derek has three epileptic fits which are shown in great detail. You can see the amount of pain and discomfort he is feeling because of this.
The loud and booming music also adds to the mighty effect.
At school the head teacher says, Derek is easily prayed to bad influences .
Derek has low self-esteem and he doesn t go out for about a year because he is depressed and under stress. He is still given comics and this shows his low intelligence and mental age.
Derek and his sister are very close and she tries to do everything for him. His dad takes care of him too. When Derek puts some music on he starts dancing like a child and him and his sister dance and sing but Derek can t remember the words and he gets frustrated, like children do.
Derek meets Chris Craig at a railway. He is wearing black gangster like clothes and from first meeting him Chris tricks and confuses Derek, by pointing the gum at his head, but he also impresses him, like when he pretends to kill himself by jumping in front of a train. Derek s house is shown as a cosy family home but Chris s home must be different. It doesn t even invite us to imagine what his house is like. At the butchers shop Derek picks the wrong coupon and Chris tries to correct him, but he also gets it wrong and this shows that Chris isn t all that clever either.
Chris s gang talks about how much disrespect they have for their parents, but with Derek it s the other way round. When the girl from the record shop (Stella) goes by, she is with Chris s brother in an expensive red sports car. He must be doing well in crime to have both of them. The shot is in slow motion with slow music and a panning shot of the gang smiling at Stella. Derek feels embarrassed in front of girls, which again shows immaturity. The gang and Derek wish to be like Chris s brother because he s a successful criminal and he s never short of money.
Chris is the centre of attention at gun trading in school because he can always get hold of the best guns. The gang says the Derek needs the image if he wants to be in the gang so they give him a blue jacket and a hat. This makes Derek feel wanted and accepted.
Derek wants to be in the army but to prove that he is unfit they give him an epilepsy test. There is a close-up panning shot of his body to show all the contraptions he is covered in. When the test starts he has another fit. Again, there is a close-up of his face and the booming music gets louder, again adding to the shock and pain he is sensing.
Derek does not begin to show less respect for his dad now he has joined the gang, but he starts breaking codes and rules he s been brought up to respect. The head teacher s statement was right. Derek has another fit in a taxi. The music builds up and he breaks a window in the taxi door, which adds to the panic and stress.
Stella has told the police about Chris s brother and in the first court scene of the film he is sentenced to twelve years imprisonment and is said to be a dangerous man, which makes Chris feel angry.
At night Chris puts his gun on his bedside table which has toys on. This reminds the audience of Chris s youth.
Chris gives Derek a knuckle-duster as a gift because they are now good friends. Chris starts to climb up the warehouse wall and you can see a little girl praying. This shows different types of behaviour in one shot, (good and bad). She sees Chris and Derek and tells her dad. On the rooftop scene Derek is always shown as a follower of Chris. Police sirens can be heard and when Derek hears them he panic and cries My dad s gonna kill me! When the police get onto the roof Chris starts firing shots and tries to hide but a policeman finds him. Chris points his gun at him. He tells Chris to give him the gun but he refuses. Derek shouts Let him have it Chris! meaning, let him have the gun , but Chris probably thought he meant shoot him , so that s what he did. Derek is sympathetic for the policeman and stays close to him. He doesn t like to see people suffering because he knows what it s like, when he has the fits. The camera stays on the body for a while to give an impact and makes you feel sorry for the policeman yourself. Chris fires more shots and wants to kill more policemen but he uses up all his ammunition. Another policeman finds him and Chris tries to shoot him but he has no ammo and he gets mad, showing his short temper. Chris panics and he tries to kill himself by jumping of the building but he goes through some glass, which breaks his fall and his arm.
In court, there is a slow panning shot of the courtroom and then an extreme close-up on Derek s eyes. They look scared, this shows vulnerability. Throughout the whole courtroom scene Derek seems to show confusion and fear from the way he acts. Derek s lawyer tells the people in the courtroom what happened at the warehouse, trying to escape from the police, the shooting of the policeman, threatening to shoot another policeman and what he thought Derek meant when he said let him have it Chris , which was give him the gun .
When the verdict is about to be given you are set on thinking that Derek will get a smaller charge than Chris because Derek didn t really do anything he just stood there. But as the judge is summing up he has a lot to say about the knuckle-duster and not much about the gun, which actually killed the policeman. The tension builds up with the music and both Chris and Derek and found guilty of murder. When the judge is giving the sentences the camera is angled slightly down on Chris and Derek, and slightly up at the judge, making the judge seem more powerful. Chris is given life imprisonment and people are shocked. Chris is taken down. But when Derek is given his sentence of execution by hanging everyone is so shocked they gasp loudly and some people start to cry. People are more sorry for Derek because he is epileptic and they think that he doesn t know any better. When Derek is taken down, the camera is in front of him pointed slightly upwards on his body to make him seem helpless. The last time you see Chris is when he s in his cell sitting with his head in his hands. He looks up worriedly at Derek and he s crying. When Derek is talking to his family through the glass his mum says there is a petition going and that a lot of people want him to be free so he could get out. When they leave they touch hands on either side of the glass. The sad piano music plays a lot. Derek begins to cry to add impact. There is a high angled shot of Derek s dad alone in the House of Commons, this shows the shock that Derek s sentence has given him.
When Derek is dictating the letter his voice trembles, and when he signs it he writes very slowly and untidily which shows his low intelligence. Everything is very slow and dismal from now on.
In the hanging scene the camera zooms in on the noose and it shakes to show it as if it were what Derek could see. There are cuts between the hanging scene and Derek s family huddled together crying in his house. The hanging is very fast, they put a white cloth over his head and the noose round his neck and they pull the leaver. The speed of it all makes it even more shocking. The camera pans Derek s body and continues to go up over the rooftops, as if it were Derek s spirit, it goes into Derek s house where the family is still crying. Then there is a focus on the clock, which eventually stops ticking to show the end of Derek s life. The sad piano music continues to play while the picture fades to black. This leaves you feeling shocked and distressed, and I think this is exactly how the director wanted to present this film.