Masterpieces of Cinematography

Chelsea Staff Image

Cinematography is an aspect of film art that is concerned not with what is filmed but rather how it is filmed. This involves the photographic aspect of the shot, the framing of the shot, and the duration of the shot. The colors, contrast, and CGI of the images are ways in which some films stand out. The film Amélie uses low contrast to create a soft romantic tone. This not only creates a beautiful photographic image for the viewer, but it helps support the narrative story. The speed of motion is another technique that can emphasize an aspect of the narrative. The film In the Mood for Love, uses slow motion of lovers walking to dwell on a moment of spectacle and high drama. Perspective is another technique that filmmakers employ. When an image is framed, a certain vantage point is imposed onto the material, or mise-en-scene (setting, lighting, costume, and staging), within the image. A zoom lens can focus the image or the camera can physically move itself. This can profoundly affect how we perceive the space within the frame and offscreen. The film Interstellar frames the image in such a way that it creates a sense of awe in the viewer. The duration of each shot can affect our understanding of the film we’re watching as well. The Life of Pi is a film in which the viewer experiences a long passage of time. The audience is able to watch the moving water for an extended period without getting seasick by the use of an open shutter. This results in a natural look that mimics the way humans see the world. I see all of these films as beautiful, visually arresting, or awe inspiring. Watch any of the following titles and see if you enjoy its cinematography as much as I do.

Amélie

Amélie is a young naïve waitress in Paris who uses her own sense of justice to discretely orchestrate the lives of the people around her. While she changes their lives for the better she discovers love.

 

The Fall

In a hospital on the outskirts of 1920s Los Angeles, an injured stuntman tells a fantastical story about five mythical heroes to a young fellow female patient with a broken arm. His broken mind and her vivid imagination starts to blur the line between reality and fiction as the adventure unfolds.

Gravity

Dr. Ryan Stone is a brilliant engineer on her first shuttle mission with veteran astronaut Matt Kowalsky. During a seemingly routine spacewalk, disaster strikes, leaving the shuttle destroyed and sending Stone and Kowalsky spiraling into deep space with no link to Earth and no hope of rescue. As every gulp of air eats away at their oxygen and fear turns to panic, their story becomes one of human resilience in the face of catastrophe.

Her

Set in future Los Angeles, the story follows Theodore Twombly, a sensitive, lonely man who makes his living writing personal letters for other people. The end of a long relationship leaves Theodore heartbroken and intrigued with an advanced operating system that promises to be intuitive and unique to each user. Once initiated, he soon develops an unlikely relationship with “Samantha,” a bright, insightful and funny female voice.

Inception

Dom Cobb is a thief with the ability to steal valuable secrets from inside the subconscious during the mind’s dream state. His skill set has made him a highly valued player in the world of corporate espionage, but now he is a fugitive and has lost everything he loves. Cobb gets a chance at redemption when he is offered an impossible task: plant an idea in someone’s mind.

In the Mood for Love

Hong Kong 1962. A man and a woman, neighbors in an apartment building, form a strong bond after both suspect their respective spouses are having an affair.

 

Interstellar

A global crop blight and second Dust Bowl are slowly rendering Earth uninhabitable. An ex-pilot-turned-farmer must leave his family behind to lead a team of researchers through a wormhole and across the galaxy in an attempt to ensure humanity’s survival.

Life of Pi

A young man named Pi is the only human survivor of a tragic shipwreck. He finds himself stranded on a lifeboat with a fearsome Bengal tiger. As time on the lifeboat drags on, Pi and the tiger form an unexpected bond and learn that trust may be the key to survival.

Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance

Ryu, a recently laid off factory worker, turns to the black market to sell his organs in order to pay for his sister’s kidney transplant. He ends up cheated of his life savings and is persuaded to kidnap his former boss’ daughter for ransom money, but the con doesn’t go according to plan and a path of vengeance follows.