Books offer quality, well-told stories. Music is a treat for your ears. Movies are, first and foremost, a visual medium. This begins a series focusing on that element of filmmaking: the art of cinematography. The following is a collection of my favorite shots from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. [images may contain spoilers]
David Fincher's 2011 adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was a movie that many people immediately dismissed as unnecessary and typical Hollywood cash-grabbing. Being a fan of Fincher's preceding output of Se7en, Fight Club, and The Social Network, my feelings could best be summarized as "ecstatic anticipation." The man can film a story in such an engrossing manner that few directors could be labelled as his peers. Add to that his exhibited affinity for R-rated content and one should be able to see how great a choice he was to helm the English-language adaptation of Stieg Larsson's first novel. Much to my pleasure, David Fincher brought along a fellow alumnus of Fight Club and The Social Network, Jeff Cronenweth, to be cinematographer on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. What follows are some examples of the beauty produced by a Fincher/Cronenweth collaboration.
Whether the camera is placed behind the character or in front, careful attention to blocking and depth-of-field made relatively static shots visually interesting. This side-by-side also hints at the concept of using colors to generate specific feelings (i.e. cool colors used to portray the numbing nature of an office environment and warm colors conveying the warmth of a holiday party).
I have a fondness for symmetry (hello Wes Anderson!), so the framing of Henrik Vanger's property easily made my list of favorite TGWTDT shots. If symmetry is simple and straightforward, then the opposite approach is exemplified in the adjacent scene. The swinging camera movement there really intrigues me.
The oxymoron isn't lost on me, but there is something calming, yet stimulating, about the fixed presence of Lisbeth in the foreground against a kinetic background (a similarly rigged over-the-shoulder shot from the movie Goon also stands out as a favorite shot of mine in recent memory; apparently it is a specific technique that really rubs me the right way). What caught my eye with the shot on the right is how the characters maintain their horizontal level in the frame while it is the background that pans up behind them. It stood out as a marginally different way of filming a basic scene.
Abstract art and macro photography appeal to me. This shot on the left can be used as an example of both. I just imagine that nearly every single frame seen there would be right at home being used as my desktop background... if only I could forget the fact that what we're looking at is a plastic bag over a man's head. Advancing from that to explosions and guns, we've obviously reached the climax of the movie. Unfortunately, I'm ending this on a weak note: routine silhouette work. Granted, when used sparingly, I find silhouettes rather easy on the eyes. "Sparingly"... I'm looking at you, Roger Deakins. Skyfall is undeniably gorgeous overall, but you really went overboard with all of the silhouettes. [Note that if I continue this series long enough, I'll no doubt eventually make a post emphasizing my undying love for the visuals of Skyfall.]
Thus concludes my first post! I've been blogging collections of my favorite shots from recently watched movies for over a year now, but elaborating on all of it with text is a new process for me. So, with a bit of mental exercise, that part of the presentation will hopefully improve. Pending any positive/negative/absent feedback, I'll try to keep this a weekly feature for a good long while. Finally, here is a tease of what will be featured on the next The Cinematography of...