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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Maltese Falcon: Greed as Pathology

To Aquinas, greed is the worst of the major sins. Augustine had privileged pride with the dubious distinction of being the worst of the worst. In films, avarice is typically clothed with riches. The Maltese Falcon (1941) and (1931), as well as Satan Met a Lady (1936), which is based on the same novel, all depict greed as an obsession. Even though the object sought is thought to be very valuable, no one in the “hunt” is wealthy. Greed is presented in this story primarily as an interior motive that relentlessly and obsessively grips the whole person. That is to say, greed is reductionist, and in so being, distortive of any sense of natural perception and proper proportionality. This is depicted best in the most famous of the films. In this respect, the prior two films can be seen as building up to, or evolving into, a depiction of greed full-blown in a distinctly pathological sense.

The full essay is at "The Maltese Falcon"