Great Moments in Cinematography III

Good morrow everyone,

today we’ll see a little bit of what Janusz Kaminski is capable of. This man, is an enigma if there was ever one in the world of cinematography. His career with Steven Spielberg is an amazing collection of visual masterpieces but, having worked on The Diving Bell and the Butterfly and a few other visually consistent films (The adventures of Huck Finn, Jerry Maguire and How to Make an American Quilt), you can see from his work that there is something more to his eye than just what Mr. Spielberg concocts for his “paintings”.
As an example of the mastery undertaken by Kaminski, I chose the “Invasion of Omaha Beach Scene” right at the beginning of the World War 2 epic by Spielberg.
It is true that such scenes as the girl in the red dress from Schindler’s List or the brilliantly photographed boat scenes in Amistad are by themselves, great single examples of Kaminski’s work but, it is thru this scene (in detail – the first 10 minutes of it), that you see the experimentation, control and power of what can be done with a camera to showcase war as viscerally and has destructively as it is possible to present.
This scene is the standard by which every war movie filmed after it has been evaluated. It has set a pattern for what has come after it, and taken the viewer to never before seen “first person interactions” to what a battlefield looks like.
Technically it ranges from handheld, crane shots, quick pans, steady shots, frame skips, frame over and under-cranking, image dirtying, image cleaning, fake blood, digital blood, very little is left out in this 10 minutes.
For those weak of heart (or stomach) be warned.

Great Moments in Cinematography II

Hi guys,

for this week, I chose Conrad L. Hall and his last motion picture before he left us in 2003 – Road to Perdition.

This scene is the final confrontation between Michael Sullivan and John Rooney (an assassin and his boss).

The unseen figure firing (and his silhouette slowly being defined by the muzzle flashes) , the slow track with Rooney in the center (with the bullets catching everyone but him), the beautiful fall off of light on the shoulders and the face of Rooney and Michael and the amazing reflections and sparkle of the drops of rain, this scene is a perfect example of a cinematographer at the top of his game.

There’s a spoiler in the scene so for those who haven’t watched the film, be warned.

Great moments in Cinematography I


This will be a periodic blog post on my perspective of great moments in film and their visual artists.
The selection will (most of the times) be based on the quality of the cinematography and the emotions that the scenes evoke on us, the viewers and admirers.
I won’t try and analyze them, define or criticize them, I’ll just leave that to you.
When possible, I thoroughly recommend seeing these scenes and their movies, on BluRay, or when possible, in the theaters.
Hope you guys enjoy them.

First great moment:

By Roger Deakins

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

The first and only robbery of the movie.

This scene creates an aura of myth around Jesse James and his men. A mysticism that is effectively captured by Deakins on Camera/Cinematography and by Andrew Dominik’s selection of shots.

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