7331-1/Photographic Methods that Thierry Arbogast uses in his films

Use of colour. 

Thierry Arbogast is very mindful about the colour in the films he works on. In every single movie where he was a Director of Photography you can see that there is one or two colours that are dominant throughout the whole film. It seems to me that his colour choice is based on the main character’s outlook on life and the environment he/she lives in. For example “Angel-A” was shot in black and white and the main character in this film always looks at life only from the good side or from the bad side.

“The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc” has primarily orange and red colours showing Joan’s urge to help people and her anger that sparkled her to do some action, also it highlights the period time.

“Leon: The Professional” has a lot of green and yellow colours (that aren’t that nice) which reflect Leon’s life. He does the same thing over and over again, he doesn’t have much in his life or in his apartment. The only bright green element in his life is his plant.

Subject placement goes along with the use of wide angle lens. 

Thierry always chooses the subject placement in relation to the environment around them, that way he creates strong compositions that the audience reads and participates in rather than just passively watches.  He ALWAYS places the subject into the environment and usually the background “points” and frames the subject, which makes his still frames very rich, strong and almost developing.

He also supports the subject placement with the camera angle and camera proximity. He isn’t afraid to use low and high camera angles which create very interesting and strong effects. Sometimes he places the camera with wide lens very close to the action which makes the faces look a bit distorted but the choice of low angle in such shots make it look as the camera placement has a strong purpose: it adds irony, sarcasm and a bit of humour into the film. He does it only when h works with Luc Besson though because Besson is a strong believer that any story has to have humour in it.

Symbolism (symbolic compositions). As I mentioned before I find Thierry Arbogast compositions very strong and rich in information. But sometimes he makes very symbolic shots that foreshadow what is going to happen next. He does it very simply and obviously so the audience won’t have to spend a lot of time thinking about what it means.

Usually he does it with wide lens and distance from the action. But sometimes but uses telephoto lens with little depth of field and plays with a pull focus. Everytime Thierry makes a pull focus shot it always means something. I like that he does is meaningfully and creatively and not just because I “looks good”.

this sequence shows how Thierry Arbogast can have a hand held shot in the same scene as static shots and how beautifully they work together. At the end of this sequence is an example of a pull focus that revels something important and the motion of the focus almost reflects the audience and the character’s realisation of what is going on.

“Angel-A” sequence

This sequence from “Angel-A” is a great example of Thierry Arbogast’s photographic methods and stylistic approaches put together.

Wide lens, low angle shot in the beginning of the sequence, mid close ups when two characters are talking in the beginning (this is typical Thierry’s style of coverage, when the audience needs to concentrate on what the characters are saying, then there’s not much coverage at all, most of the time it’s just two mid close ups and a mid shot at the end of their conversation).

Thierry doesn’t use much camera movement but when he does it usually means getting closer into the character’s set of mind. This is happening in the sequence again when the characters are looking in the mirror. Also, there’s a vivid example of placement of a subject into the environment. The doors and the two lamps clearly frame the two characters and concentrate the audience’s attention on them.

The light is stronger on one side than it is on the other, but it doesn’t have a strong contrast.

And a very strong composition to end the sequence with.

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