Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Cheat(1915)

The Cheat” shows a complete change in tone when switching between the home of Richard and Edith and Arakau. The first is western and what we would see as a norm, while the latter is decorated in an eastern style. It gives a feeling that Arakau still identifies as Asian and not as an American. The Asian men in the service of Arakau speak broken English, which must have been done with a purpose. The language could have been easily fixed, as the only language to come across does so in subtitles. The film even goes far enough to make the statement “East is east and West is west and never the twain shall meet”. (The Cheat, 1915)

In “The Cheat”, Edith is a glamorous woman that floats in high society, throws luxurious parties, and in is no trouble for her husband to write her a check for ten thousand dollars. Again, we are able to see under the surface. We see a woman resort to what could termed prostitution to keep her status with the community. 

The character of Edith uses her sexuality in order to gain a favor. Not only this, but she is also a woman that is seen spending time with men besides her husband. Then she begins to realize the immorality of her decision and goes back on the agreement. Her role has now become one of the swindler and the tease. Her sexuality has put her into a position to be denigrated. Arakau brands Edith, his way of changing her into property.

Just in looking at the shots of “The Cheat” it seems as if DeMille is in sympathy with the upper class white characters. The fact that Edith and Richard are protagonists should make this obvious, but in looking at the final shot of “The Cheat” when the couple walk out of the court room arm in arm just forces that idea in even more:that the white characters are the good guys. We completely forget that the main conflict was caused by an irresponsible Edith, but she walks guilt free and happy.


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