The Maltese Falcon: The Stuff that Dreams are Made of
I happened to watch a 1941 black-and-white Hollywood movie called “The Maltese Falcon” the other day and enjoyed it very much.
Thinking historically, motion picture as an industry began taking shape in the early the 20th century. And a few decades later, Hollywood was perfecting this form of storytelling. Traditionally this type of story telling was done on a stage in front of a live audience: Think of Shakespeare’s plays for example.
But the advances in the motion picture technology made this new art form of story telling possible. One can see how the traditional theatrical concepts and devices, such as character development, plot development, setting up scenes and acts were being adapted to fit this new medium: For example, motion-picture specific acting skills, cinematic skills of “perfect” shot angles and lighting and the camera's motion, editing, etc. Moreover, there is this zeitgeist-effect also: The fashion of the times, people’s manner of speech, basic patterns of day-to-day lives of the people back then, etc.
The last words spoken at the end of the movie seems to resemble a line from a Shakespeare’s play – somewhat melodramatic. The police detective says, “What’s this stuff?” And the main character ends the movie by (carrying away the Maltese Falcon and) saying, “It’s the stuff that dreams are made of.”
I take this last line to mean that: People go to a great length dreaming of possessing/obtaining something very valuable, even in the end, it may turn out to be just a myth.
Macbeth: Life is but a walking shadow…. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and furry, signifying nothing. (W. Shakespeare)