Sunday, August 03, 2008


there are reasons some of the great films are considered great.
i was watching Rebel Without a Cause the other night and noticed how well the director, production designer, costume designer and cinematographer told the audience who the film was clearly about with in the first few minutes. sure there's dialogue and each character has the intro in Edward Platt's office but the visuals reinforced the whole thing. here's how;

first up, before we see Natalie Wood clearly she and the doll James Dean doesn't want to give up share the strongest notes of color. the bond between them is reinforced visual before the story unreels.
Natalie stands out among the rest of the girls because of the strong red note. right away Nicholas Ray wants us to know who's important. remember, the audience is getting a lot of information in a short period of time. he has to be really obvious and say, "this girl is the one you should look at". good art direction is clear art direction. also look at the deep focus in this scene. from the officer on duty in the far right corner to the hall on the left.
the three main characters end up in the police station on the same night. their lives will become increasingly intertwined as the story progress but for now they're unaware of that. the dynamic triangle of the composition keeps the eye moving even though the characters themselves are not engaged with each other.
as Dean starts to interact with Sal Mineo he moves in forming a smaller compositional triangle. the three mains are still unaware of what's to come but the director wants us to know the movie will be about them.
then as we cut into Platt's office and hear Natalie's story Dean moves off. the mains still the dominant visual even though they themselves are unawre of the events to follow.


Blogger Tom Scholes said...

Yeahhh! Such a great post! More like these please! (And more great art would be nice...)

9:36 PM  
Blogger Craig Mackay said...

Thanks for the break down, Robh! I'd love to see some more posts like this for sure!

8:28 PM  
Blogger Unknown said... have too much time on your hands.

but thanks for this one.

4:44 PM  
Blogger Pj Perez said...

Adding to Netflix to watch again: Rebel Without a Cause.

I need to keep an eye out for this stuff. Great post.

11:53 AM  
Blogger william wray said...

Yopu should do a book on this kind of suble film storytelling. thanks!

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