I am doing the online course for film noir on TCM. 8 weeks, so cool! #NoirSummer
The camera position seems to be in a secluded viewpoint. As if we, the viewer were hiding and watching. Very voyueristic feeling. Also, there is a feeling of very quiet courtyard despite the children playing. No adults at first visible. Then the camera tilts up, again as if we are hiding and watching for adults. We see women doing laundry. The children are playing a game in which they count and then dis-count and eliminate a player from a circle.
The mothers discuss how annoying the children morbid song lyrics are in the game but they also agree that as long as they are singing they know they are safe. This riffs on the idea that the mothers are identifying, and accounting for their children. When children play in groups or do school trips together it is common for adults to take a head count. This sense of paying attention to the numbers and amount of children to keep safe, gives a sense of importance to how valuable their numbers are and keeping track of children. This also is a very urban kind of worldview where large populations can obscure our catering and watching of our children.
The poster of the murderer-at-large confirms and justifies the mothers fears of keeping track of their children. The little girl seems so vulnerable playing with her ball when we mostly only see the figures of adults around her, but few face. Then the silhouette of a stranger overtop the murder poster shows us how we can not see the person...possibly the murderer could be anyone and this is so frightening and effective at putting fear into us observing.