Monday, October 20, 2014

The Queen

The movie The Queen by Steven Frears, about the relationship between Elizabeth II and the prime minister Tony Blair, uses many cinematic tools and aesthetic qualities to help convey the story, characters, and the spine of the film.  One of these is the use of access given to primary characters, specifically the queen.  Elizabeth is very conservative -- hiding her emotions and honest opinions expertly.  We see this no only through dialogue and performance, but from the access of her the director and DP of the film decided to give to the audience through shot design, composition, and range of focus.  The queen rarely has vulnerable moments in the film, but the one time she does break down and cry when she's stuck in the swamp/river with her car and she sees a deer, we have little to no access to her face.  There's a shot of her from behind and a shot of her from the side, in which her face is blurry and the background is in focus.  She also has a scarf around her head, covering her true identity and insecurities.  

These cinematic and costume decisions seep subconsciously into the viewers minds and lead us to feel and think a certain way about the film when we wouldn't otherwise.  The little access we had to Elizabeth throughout the movie helped me come to the conclusion, among other things, that this was Tony's story rather than hers.  We see Tony's vulnerabilities, through more reaction shots and access to his face, and therefore we are with him one hundred percent and see the film through his eyes, where with Elizabeth we only see one side of her completely. 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Dogville

In the film Dogville by Lars von Trier, there are quite a few fascinating cinematic and directing choices that were very brave of the creators and makes the movie as memorable as it is.  Most notably, the choice for a minimal stage-like set, because that had never been done before in a film and focussed the viewers on the acting and plot, rather than the visuals.

Something else I noticed throughout the film was that the camera was pretty much always hand held and therefore had varying amounts of shakiness throughout the film.  It was always at least a little shaky -- not counting the dorsal establishing shots -- but more shaky during intense and dramatic moments.  I think the shakiness, not only contributed to the inspiration of nerves in an audience during intense scenes, but helped us feel part of Dogville. The cinematography was casual, almost like a home-movie, so we felt attached -- rather than like audience members.