A Stupid Opinion about Cinematography

16 Jan

In the year that this blog has been around there have been plenty of stupid opinions written poorly and converted to digital ones and zeros, but this is going to be the stupidest opinion to date: Cinematographers are the most important artists on the set of any movie. The better the cinematography, the better the film. PERIOD!

To show this example I’m going to use zero example pictures, GIFs and only a few descriptions of actual shots in films. Instead I’m going to use the rhythm of my fingers on the keys. Hopefully, this will produce many run-on sentences, grammar errors and missed words to give further justification on this, the most stupidest of opinions.

Now, I have never directed a feature-length film, nor been on the set of one, but I thanks to my cursory knowledge of filmmaking, highly enlightened sense of beauty and ego big enough to have its own blog and two different twitter accounts I feel overly qualified to talk about the importance of cinematography in films. Last weekend, I spent the majority of my time consuming films that have been sprinkled on end-of-the-year lists. I decided in the middle of the watching Her (to clear the palate of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, which was meant to be a sort of moral grounding from watching The Wolf of Wall Street*) that cinematography is the most important thing in the world . . . of cinema.  If films were judged without sound and solely on the images on the screen, both Her and The Wolf of Wall Street would suffer greatly, due to relying a lot on voiceover elements. While Walter Mitty would pretty much be the same movie with a handful of confusing scenes of Walter Mitty talking on a cell phone. But not the case, both Her and The Wolf of Wall Street are clearly superior, even with out their very vital voice over elements and that is because the filmmakers behind those films fucking respect the camera.

SOWP_Walter_Mitty

Walter Mitty, while having some beautiful scenery, some helicopter shots, silhouettes and wide shots does not have good cinematography. It is a great example of how NOT to shoot a film. All the pretty things make a slick-looking trailer, but the beautiful shots and exotic elements do nothing to complement the story or themes of the film. I like David Fincher films and I like Ben Stiller comedies, but the two should never meet. The cinematography of this film distracted from the humor of the film and detracts from the elements meant to build depth in the Mitty-man.

Her, on the other hand, is a story where the actor and not action is the key to the film, it could easily become a visual nightmare, but instead it is a visually appealing film that fully creates the world, compliments the character and elevates every scene where a dude is just talking to himself to the level of art. The film opens and within the first minute of the film the filmmakers have already established the world of the film, much more than a thousand helicopter shots and silhouettes against the setting sun. We see Theodore Twombly face speaking tender, revealing words, the same shot that will be repeated throughout the whole film, but the opening shot is revealed to be faux-tender and insincere. The shot is designed to reflects that mis-information, the space surrounding his head is empty and drab, while later in the film the same space surrounding Twombly is illuminated with warm abstract lights and echo the new complexities the character has acquired throughout the film.

SOWP_Her_2

The film looks beautiful, and in a visual medium, this is hands down the most important part. The thing that separates a the movies that are remembered from the films that just look beautiful is the intertwining of the cinematography and story. The best films weave the two so tightly together that the look of the film is the film. In the memorable films the camera perfectly conveys the words of the writer, the emotions of the actors, the sounds and melodies of musicians, the texture, color, mood of frame and the vision of the director into a perfect melding of every art form. There is no writer, actor, composer, director or cinematographer, only filmmakers working in perfect harmony for the means of cinema.

-C. Charles

*A more focused stupid opinion about The Wolf of Wall Street is forth coming.

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One Response to “A Stupid Opinion about Cinematography”

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  1. A Stupid Opinion About Tanking | Stupid Opinions Written Poorly - January 29, 2014

    […] reading this blog they’d think that our poorly written stupid opinions only spanned the realm of movies, but dabbled in television, music and made-up internal monologues of economists born in New Delhi. […]

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