“The Third Man is set in Vienna, but it is a Vienna that I have not experienced because it is set right after World War Two. I was born there one year after the last Russian soldier had left [the city was divided by the Allies after the war and the Russians kept a hold on the city until 1955]. I heard from my parents and grandparents that it was no fun being there during the war.
The film was written by Graham Greene and I admire him enormously. He tells very complex situations in a very approachable form, without ever losing the literary level. That’s true mastership: complicating matters is not difficult.
Then of course there’s the magnificent Orson Welles who comes in more towards the end of the film but his presence is always there. In the rest of the cast there are actors who I met as a child because my parents were involved in the theatre [as set and costume designers] in Vienna.
Everybody loved the music in the film which was discovered just by serendipity. Carol Reed [the director] had never heard of the zither before but he heard one in one of the little wine places all over the city. It’s a very Austrian instrument. The Viennese man Anton Karas, who wrote the famous Harry Lime theme music, was a rather mediocre zither player, but he worked on the film because that was the person who played the instrument when Reed heard it for the first time.
In a way, the cinematography defined a whole genre, film noir was not unheard of, of course, but when you talk about that genre in the wider sense, The Third Man is probably the first example you think of. I identify with it because I like to believe there are many different influences that come together in me as a person, with English with America, having lived here for so long, but being from Vienna and that’s all also there in the film.”
Christoph Waltz on why he identifies with The Third Man [x]