The Many Faces of Greed

        Erich von Stroheim's Greed (1925) is one of the greatest silent films ever made. One does not have to watch it for very long to become impressed with the masterful technique of Stroheim and his cast. Sometimes it relies on methods such as the occasional use of gold tinting, and at other times it relies on flawless direction, carefully chosen details, and a keen understanding of what is happening in the characters' lives. The film itself is a great dictation tale of how people are dehumanized by the influence money has upon their lives and the flaws that we have as humans.

        This film implies that, because of the way many people are, certain things are going to happen to them. For instance, Trina (Zazu Pitts) was greedy. If she was truly frightened of McTeague (Gower Gibson), she could have used that money to go live somewhere else or work somewhere else. But because she wanted to save up her capitol, she stayed where she was, facilitating the tragedy that would later happen to her, when McTeague would terminate her. Even though they were separated, he still knew where she was, making it easier for him to keep track of where and for whom she labored.

        At first McTeague started out a very benevolent husband in the beginning and was even credulous enough to believe Trina's lies at first. He wanted to trust her as any man or woman would want to trust his or her spouse. That happens in a lot of couples. Statistics show that money is the reason why a lot of marriages end up having problems. In short, these two individuals cracked under pressure and ended up taking it out on each other--Trina, with her strong feelings for saving money, and McTeague, with his need to survive. I noticed, however, that, after Trina denied McTeague even a cup of coffee, she felt bad about it later on. Yet, after McTeague killed Trina, he did not feel bad about it at all. He probably felt that he was treating her the same way she had treated him: "I don't care whether you live or not." She seemed to be communicating that when she would not even give him a dime for a cup of coffee.

        They were both people that wanted to do good things, but who ended up hurting each other in the long run due the bad influence of selfish greed.

Matthew Whitted

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