On the Waterfront is a movie about a longshoreman named Terry Malloy who, along with Itty and Barry, a priest and a student, wants to start a revolution to expose the crimes committed by the dock owner. Elia Kasan, who directed the 1954 film starring Marlon and Eva Marie Saint in 1954, won eight Oscars for this masterpiece.
The story On the Waterfront revolves around conscience. The story is based off a news article written by Malcolm Johnson about a union that preys on dock workers, who live on the waterfront. This true story movie has a level of realism never seen before in a film. Comparing this movie to “film noir”, the moral speculative colour in the story is a reflection of group values. On the Waterfront, unlike “film noir”, focuses on the hero’s moral dilemma. Kazan has infused the film noir temperament with social critique in this film. The film finds the perfect balance of dramatizing the story and highlighting its real appeal. Kazan includes two other storylines in this story, Terry Malloy awakening his moral conscience, and Edie’s love story, to create inner emotional tension.
The movie is a realistic film, with a focus on the people of the lower class who live and work in the docks, warehouses and taverns. To show the audience that life is not like the Hollywood luxury aristocracy. Elia Kasan’s style is clearly a documentary, with the filth, roughness and sweaty smell bringing into the camera. The film reflects the life of longshoremen, their awakening and their struggle. The actor’s screen charm and power will increase the more realistic the movie is. It is the actor’s acting that makes an impression. Marlon Brando’s character brightens up the movie and gives it a more positive tone. His Romanesque face was accompanied by sensual lips and stunning eyes. His expressive eyes could not be looked at without revealing his true feelings, as they display them all. In the beginning, the hero was still a ruffian. However, the transformation of his character from a ruffian into a true hero did not happen abruptly. You could see how a worker who was an accomplice, but rose up to fight the enemy with the change in his eyes. Like the heroine who said that something was in his eye, which turned out to be the truth.
On the Waterfront was created as a defense for Kazan. Kazan named several communist party members in his testimony to the committee before filming even began. Kazan is now burdened with the “informer” label. The “gang” is only using him temporarily, so he plays the part of Terry. Terry’s moral awakening began when the union boss said: “You betrayed our cause, Terry”. Terry replied: “I was standing here. I’ve been lying for years, without realizing.” Terry loses his battle with Johnny and is beaten at the end. But in exchange, workers show their solidarity by refusing to join the union.