Saturday, February 23, 2013

What?! A photo blog post with no photos!

Yep, a photo blog and no photos.  Bear with me ....

I went to see movie 'Lincoln'.  I have to admit it was on my list of movies to see but not my first (or even second) choice.  However the others would have involved me waiting around too long and Abe started in half an hour so ......

For the impatient among you, the movie is great.  In between taking photographs and editing I occasionally like to see a movie and enjoy a little escapism.  I know what's involved in making a movie.  A screenwriter has to rewrite the story to make it compatible with a movie format and also make it flow.  A storyboard has to be created that shows the vision the director has for each second which generates the sets, lighting requirements, costumes, actors, extras, etc., etc.  All movies need special effects to some degree or another.  Some require Computer Generated Imagery to a huge extent like Avatar or some of the SciFi movies.  Others require subtlety like Castaway - did you think Tom Hanks stood on top of his island and surveyed all around him?  It was done on a small set in a car park!  The point is that the great movies need all the elements to work and the sum of them to be greater than the whole which is probably why there aren't that many memorable ones.

If a movie can absorb me to the point that I forget all that and just immerse myself in the story then it's great in my book.  This movie had that magic.  The feel of the movie was 1865.  The clothes looked like those you see in museums where they seem to lack that finesse of modern clothing.  Their clothes look heavy and slightly badly fitting - a kind of clumsiness.  The attention to detail was amazing.  The dialogue also felt of the time.  Daniel Day Lewis is a method actor and immersed himself in the role three months beforehand and, it may come across as being a prima donna (for a man?), but insisted that the crew refer to him at all times as 'Mr President'.  Could be one of the reasons he's nominated for his third oscar.

But, to me, this was a masterclass in lighting, composition and photography.  Right from the outset I was looking at how much the scenes were reminiscent of of the photographs of the era and even more remarkably they moved!  Every photographer who has done studio or location work knows that the lighting is usually right for one viewpoint and the subjects as well.  Here were scenes where actors walked across what appeared to be dark areas but yet were lit by 'invisible' lighting.  The other thing I noticed was that if you looked around the scene there was just enough light to allow you to see details of objects in the shadows.  There must have been huge discussions, planning and probably arguments about designing and dressing the sets.  Composition was amazing.  I kept noticing that the lighting and the framing made me look where the director wanted me to look.

So being a photographer I was a bit distracted by the technical side of the process somewhat like a musician will analyse a concert's performance and that of the conductor.  But, having said that, I think I got more from the movie than most people would have.  Trouble is I'll have to go back and watch it again.  But that won't be a trial.