Sunday, 6 September 2009
I'm trying to make a film at the moment called "Fin". As I'm fairly busy with the day job (not complaining!) I'm using any spare time I have to progress it. So this has resulted in a lack of blogging. Excuses aside I want to put up a study I did of a Touch of Evil sequence that was filmed in one take. The aim is to have a closer look at some of the films, shots and general things out there that tingle my spine and figure out why. Does anyone know what that tingle is?
Hmm wonder who is in charge of this situation. Orson Welles plays the loathsome Police Captain Hank Quinlan who is at the apartment to question the lover of a daughter whose father was blown to smithereens at the beginning of the movie Touch of Evil. Now that opening sequence is one of the most famous long takes in history - but lets look a little further into this much more subtle moment. Hot Mexican air, tension, TNT and doughnuts.
Quinlan dominates this composition while he grumbles about a lack of doughnuts or coffee to one of his lackies. Vargas, played by Charlton Heston, is still unsure to his authority. Boxed in and nervous to overstep the mark.
All eyes on the girl who perhaps holds the key to the murder of her father. The lover Sanchez can only look on as she is taken away. Quinlan looms over the proceedings like a puppeteer.
Here Vargas is lit by the halo of light, appropriate as he now finds himself a sort of guardian angel of the accused Sanchez.
The final composition I got to was this last battle for Sanchez. While he remains a small figure dwarfed by Quinlan and Vargas, it is Vargas who takes more of the space and remains strong, Quinlan draws away a little, perhaps revealing his guilt, having already planted the incriminating dynamite in the bathroom at the very beginning of the scene.
Now in all its black and white glory. Just think about the logistics of all those people in that tiny set, the huge cameras they had back then, but the fun they must of had pulling it off, like a live stage show. Welles spent much of his life in theatre and was often accused of theatrical shots - a lack of reality, real life. But strangely theatre was real life, real people up there on the stage in front of you night after night. As the scene demands he choreographs a sequence that embraces the nervous energy of the actors, the nervous energy of life.