My Favorite Film Cinematography, Part 2

“Skyfall”

I’ve always liked silhouettes. I think they are an interesting, mysterious image to look at and think when used in films, can be very effective in terms of visuals and story telling. The cinematography of “Skyfall” makes great use of silhouette visuals. The film, directed by Sam Mendes is the third and darkest of the James Bond reboot films. It delves deeper into the emotions of Bond, whose past is explored while his loyalty to M is tested. The use of shots with silhouettes reflect Bond’s emotional turmoil and the effect his line of work has on him. I’ve seen the movie a couple of times now, but when I first saw it, in was in theaters on an IMAX screen. I was completely entranced by the visuals. The film really is a breathtaking masterpiece of cinematography. Here are some of those stunning silhouette shots:

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“Children of Men”

“Children of Men”, directed by Alfonso Cuarón, is an awe-inspiring achievement of the use of long, unbroken shots and a realistic, grim setting. The plot of this incredibly well written and directed film is bleak and depressing: the year is 2027 and it’s a dystopian world where for some reason, women have become infertile. The film made a bold choice by not having lavish sets and unrealistic images created through CGI, which is typical of films set in the future. Instead, the film opts for a realistic look. It’s gritty and sad. It’s like looking in at what the world could become if this unfortunate fate were to happen.

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There are two scenes that always blow my mind whenever I watch this film. And these scenes involve long, single take action sequences. The first scene is when the main character, Theo Faron(Clive Owen) is traveling in car on route to the coast to hand off  young refugee, Kee(Claire-Hope Ashitey), who is later revealed to be pregnant. The others in the car include his ex wife, Julian Taylor(Julianne Moore), militian immigrant rights activist group member Luke(Chiwetel Ejiofor) and former midwife Miriam(Pam Ferris). En route to their destination, they are ambushed by an armed gang and Julian is shot and killed. The scene is exhilarating, with the fast motions of the armed gang rushing up to the car. It’s frantic, but the camera movements are neatly choreographed. It seems effortless, but there must have been so much work put into it, considering the four minute scene is all one shot. It’s an intense scene and the cinematography is incredible to watch

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Here’s the scene:

And here’s a fascinating look into how the scene was made: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cBfsJ7K1VNk

The other scene with a brilliantly executed long tracking shot is near the end of the film. This scene is also four minutes long, but has so much more action in it. It’s often referred to as one of the greatest achievements in long takes. Theo and Kee, who has recently given birth to her baby are attempting to escape an uprising. There are gun shorts firing around them and people running in and out of the shots. The camera stalls during moments in the film, allowing the audience to catch their breath. But then the tracking begins again. The scene has a realistic feel to it. It’s like you are running along with Theo. Near the end of the scene, there are even blood splatter on the lens of the camera.

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Here’s the incredible scene:

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