Since we already know of his dramatic exit from Alcatraz, it is fitting to make Frank Morris’s entry to Alcatraz more theatrical. From the novel Escape from Alcatraz, J. Bruce Campbell wrote, “No newspaper had reported his arrival, but he would leave in a blaze of front-page banner lines.” This statement holds true for the film adaptation. The film uses various ways to heighten the drama, employing tactics such as weather and music.
A transfer at night adds a level of secrecy, using the cover of darkness as a way to hid from the press. The dim lit scene causes the viewer to play close attention to the few things in that you can clearly see, like Morris and his escorts’ faces. The first close up we see of Morris’s face coincides with the first close up view of Alcatraz. He stares at the island for a while, making the viewer wonder what he is thinking about, wondering if he could potentially be thinking of a way to escape. When he finally arrives on the island, the darkness gives reason for the guards to turn on the large spot light. From the moment he steps foot on Alcatraz, everyone is watching Frank Morris like a hawk.
The music for the opening scene also adds a heightened sense of suspense. The drumming beats are reminiscent of a solider going off to war, like during the Civil War. In a way, Morris is going off to battle, a fight against the prison its self, some of inmates, the warden, and the guards. The drumming continues until he reaches the insides of the prison, where it is replaced by orders from guards.
Another aspect of drama in these opening scene is the weather. The heavy down pour of rain adds another veil of secrecy to the transfer. For the opening, along with rain comes thunder and lightening. The different claps of thunder and flashes of lightening happen in very prominent instances of his transfer. As he turned the corner to the cell block there is a clap of thunder. The thunder is alerting the other prisoner of the new inmate coming down the cell block. As he makes his way down the corridor, the are shadows moving towards the bars of the cells, trying to catch a glimpse of the new man. The final thunder clap come directly after the guard says, “Welcome to Alcatraz.” The last flash of thunder and lightening are a bit cheesy, however also ominous.
For such a quiet man, soft spoken man, Frank Morris took his peaceful transfer to Alcatraz and turned his exit from the island in to an event that has been talked about for years.