Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Pictures Worth a Thousand Words: part two

She makes me move

#4 Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

© 2007 Jerry Bruckheimer films/Walt Disney Pictures

Like the Godfather II image, Pirates might not qualify in the larger sense of great cinematographic moments, but for myself, when you combine Hans Zimmer’s particularly well done score, it captured my imagination and kindled genuine excitement. So much so, that this snapshot served as the cinematic inspiration for my own lip-locking-in-the-midst of-hell work. It birthed one image that would not be ignored and everything else in the scene sculpted around it. So I have to give this moment credit.
Also similar to Monday’s pick, there is the palatable contrast of two extremely competitive emotions visible in the shot: utter we’re-all-going-to-die chaos, and a complete overflow of bliss. And just to drive the rise above the noise point home, instead of simply sealing the marriage with a 360 degree shot of A-list kiss in the midst of battle, the camera pulls the wide angle of a forty foot wave crashing over the prow of the ship, reminding the audience of oh-yeah-and-they’re-all-going-to-die-in-the maelstrom-in-about-fifteen-seconds. Whatever. Everyone is just happy those two finally got a wedding.

#3 300

© 2006 Warner Bros. Pictures

300 is one of those films that despite a lot of complaining about the oversimplification of the story and bad script or acting (which I don’t entirely agree with. I think 300 was exactly what it wanted to be and not pretending to be anything more.) you cannot say it isn’t making a very loud visual statement. Does it make too much of a statement, clashing spears and screaming to the point of near blood boil to be noticed? I’ll concede to that, BUT there are some specific images buried within the noise that shine. More than one, if you ask me. One of my favorite overall cinematic moments even came out of it (thank you Mr. Daisy Wenham), so it is not all noise and Spartan shield banging. But the singular image that stands out and elicited an appreciative ‘whoa’ out of me was the Oracle of Delphi’s trance dance. With all the previous talk of digital tampering on Monday’s post, and the obvious digital touch (ok, grope) to every single scene in 300 I feel I should clarify that the fluidity and the elegance of these few moments of drug induced undulation were not the work of digital animation, but of underwater filming. Ramping (the speeding up and slowing of the frame rate) and digital color correction were involved, but the lady and the gossamer were tangible elements. Whoever the marketing people were for 300 were so proud of the image that it wound up being used as a one sheet poster for promotions. Good call, I say. Naked chick and a really artsy shot? That should get both genders heads turned. (I apologize for not italicizing '300'. It was causing a coding issue)


  1. Lots of great stuff here...I do have to tap my foot a little at ramping, though. It's one of those techniques I feel as though gets abused pretty thoroughly in action/adventure films, to the point of becoming a gimmick. (On the same scale as the old "truck in, zoom out" technique horror films beat into the ground a couple decades ago. Though I had to laugh when Peter Jackson pulled that old chestnut out for the shot down the road in the Shire when the hobbits first encounter a Black Rider.) Hoo boy, do I digress or what?

    The bigger point is this, I think: We artists are all copycats to some degree, and when we see something awesome, we can't help but give it a nod by using it (with hopefully a twist of our own.) There are pioneers who find these awesome techniques as technology gives them new tools to work with, and we do have those pioneers to thank for introduce us to such greatness. Yes, even ramping, aptly applied. ;)

  2. Thanks for commenting! Yes and the pull out/zoom in technique isn't complete without the strings rising furiously in pitch along with it. :)