Notions of good and evil are essentially dependent on social and cultural constructs, making conflicts over morality open to debate. In order to understand moral action, individuals often focus more on the context of the action than any innate moral code. In Carol Reed's 1949, noir style film The Third Man, he portrays images of the international diplomacy between the four occupiers as well as the inner workings of post way Viennese black market through a gripping plotline on Holly Martins. The post war era marked by carnage and mass destruction created a nihilistic society that deprived humanity of morality. Reed employs various techniques to the noir style and expressionism in the film to highlight the morally dubious state of the post war society in the Western Europe.
As a reaction to the immoralities of the war, society shifts into a state of moral decay with individuals rejecting previously upheld ethical standards. The voice over 'Vienna, light hearted capital' establishes a setting suggesting that prior to the war, Vienna was a peaceful city, renowned for its culture and music. But this contrasts with the opening montage of images and the narration 'Classic period of black-market' which signifies the shift in values of society, juxtaposing the idea of "classic" with the negative connotations associated with "black." The close up, high angle shots of the hands exchanging money is synecdoche, symbolizing the corruption brought upon by the black market. Here the composer deliberately positions the viewers to perceive the moral decay of western society post WWII through the images contrasting the opening narration. Individuals are immersed in committing immoral deeds which is further emphasized through the truncated sentence 'Everyone in Vienna is corrupted'. Carol Reed employs the zither to create a sense of uneasiness in the audience because it conveys that Vienna's glamour and easy charm has been taken over by corruption and crime.