Thoughts on thoughts on cinematography

shiningI enjoyed reading people’s analyses of cinematography. A few people picked The Shining. The director, Stanley Kubrick, was a master photographer, so that movie bears repeated watching for the camerawork alone. The thing that jumped out at me the first time I saw it was the symmetry in the composition of so many shots. But there is so much complexity within that movie that every time I see it I find something new.

A lot of people picked The Bride of Frankenstein, which kind of surprised me, given that it’s ancient and in black and white. But everyone seemed to appreciate it and get something out of it, which didn’t really surprise me because it’s known for great photography.

ring-2I added The Ring to the list since it was suggested by Brittany and it’s also well-regarded for its photography. That’s the one I watched. I wasn’t sure whether I had seen it or the original way back when, but after a while I recognized it. The main thing I noticed about it was the color-cast. Every scene had a sickly green pallor. Not a green like grass or leaves, but something slightly off, not natural. It’s also a cold color, which subtly impacts the mood. The two scenes in the Mountain Inn were different. There red was the dominant color, as if it was saying, “You’re getting warmer…” There was a repetition of visual motifs throughout the movie which had an interesting effect of creating expectation, making us think something else will be coming back. It was interesting that even though they probably had the budget and the technology for special effects, they used quick cuts and off-camera action just like in “Amelia.” Maybe that’s the horror aspect that King talked about. Dwelling on some of the horrific imagery would have brought it to the level of revulsion, whereas the things left to the imagination raised the terror level.

One thing that really impressed me was right at the beginning, before the actual movie even started. There was a quick burst of static, like there was a bit of damage to the tape or a dirty VCR play head, even though I was watching it on DVD. I didn’t get it at first. I just thought, “Huh, haven’t seen anything like that in a long time,” but later on, after I knew what was going on in the film, I though it was kind of clever. It’s more of a design thing than photography though.

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