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tom moody

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Film critic tedg on Ridley Scott's Kingdom of Heaven, starring Legolas (scroll down). Practically no "mainstream" critic talks about film in terms of image/editing/camera movement like this.
I've commented before about Scott's ability to have each camera shot mature at some point (about two seconds before it ends) in such a way that it anticipates the next image. No one else seems to have this ability. The famous George Stevens method was to shoot every scene from every angle and create a rhythmic dance of the eye afterward. Most filmmakers follow something like this today, which means that the registration of every shot happens after it appears, not before as with Scott.

Most of this, I think, is in how the camera moves. Early on, he establishes certain rules of vision that tell us when he does this, this something will follow, all done by how the camera moves. Because this visual logic is so rigidly followed, we cannot see the usual seams between real and computer generated images. He must have these rules written down for the hundreds who must be involved to understand and follow.

The story itself is mundane as with all such which have to have mass appeal. The acting is less aggressive than in his last two projects, and for my tastes that's good because it allows us more space for the cinematic experience.

Some images remain in my mind after a few days. when Saladin begins his attack on Jerusalem at night and the fireballs start coming at us over the horizon. This is truly impressive and serves as the template for the entire battle.

In that same timeframe, we have a shot of our hero anticipating. It is a three-part shot. First we see a smoky moon, then the camera moves down and to the right and we see a fluttering canvas. Each of these are amazingly rich, with the smoke anticipating the waves of the canvas. It is as if all the sea and the rolling hills and the desert were compressed into those two images. Then we move on down to our hero's face. In this ten seconds, Scott makes up for all [Orlando] Bloom's weaknesses. [...]
I'm getting more interested in Stevens (Shane, Penny Serenade, Giant, etc) these days and would like to follow up, through observation and the occasional comment, on this thesis of pre- and post-registration of visual information that tedg contrasts between his work and Ridley Scott's. Fascinating stuff!

- tom moody 5-10-2005 6:22 pm [link]