Jump to content

The Constant Gardener


 Share

Recommended Posts

  • Sustaining Member

For those of you who have seen it, what did you think of the blending of so many cinematography styles? And editing styles for that matter? There were doc style scenes lit with what appeared to be natural light, overexposed scenes that reminded me a lot of a Terry Gilliam film without the wide angles, there were scenes filmed with a webcam, and there were more traditional scenes as well. I kept wondering how that was impacting the narrative as I was watching it. Any thoughts?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

... what did you think of the blending of so many cinematography styles? And editing styles for that matter? ... ...  I kept wondering how that was impacting the narrative as I was watching it. 

 

Seems to me that Fernando Meirelles approached this movie in a same manner he had approached his "City of God". Frantic editing exibitionism and bopping back and forth with or without any apparent reason for such an approach. It made me think about camera movements and a style and directing - and that was, for me, a distracting factor that took away from the story (a quite interesting one) and performances (both Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz were great).

 

Do not know what to think about his directing and the camera use. At least it reminds me of infinite number of ways one can approach movie making...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree with Roman, in that the same approach seemed to be used for both films. Though it is a beautiful and stylistic approach, unfortunately the wrong one for "Gardner" as it was distracting and did not lyrically fit with this story. I was amazed, badly so, at the way they photographed Rachel Weisz. The dreamscapes created in Ralph's mind were anything less then pleasing to look at as they were supposed to remind him of her in better days. In fact they didn't seem like pleasent and beautiful memories at all, rather harshly lit and full of sharp contrasts. I was amazed at how much they showed her acne problem. Not something I would choose to remember about a loved one who has died.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  I was amazed at how much they showed her acne problem.  Not something I would choose to remember about a loved one who has died.

 

I'd have to say that's a highly subjective point.

 

I haven't seen the film yet, so I'm not privvy to how 'raw' Weisz was filmed, but I'd say someone's memory of a deceased love one is not always rosy colored. People remember the good and the bad.

 

A perfect example of that can be found in Chris Nolan's director's commentary of "Memento". There is a scene in the film where the protagonist, Leonard, has a memory of his wife that involved her reading a book while he was getting dressed. After asking his wife why she bothers to read the same book so many times, she snaps at him and they end the conversation on a low point.

 

Nolan mentions that he purposely wrote an exchange for Leonard to remember that was not so pleasant. Leonard has several flashes of his wife throughout the film that portray her in a rawer light. But like I said before, I'd have to see the acne in question to know whether or not that was Meirelles intention. :D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Sustaining Member

I wonder maybe if the constant moving camera bothered you? The camera

was moving most of the time in this film. Actually to me it appeared that the

story moved right along with a wonderful use of color,light and camera. The

mood set was the reality of Africa as relating to this story. How would you have

done the scenes where Tess re-appears to him in his mind? I particularly was in-

triqued with the scene where he's driving down the road talking to Tess in the

land rover. Of course she's not there but in his mind she appears to him out-

side the vehicle, within the frame of the side window or close to it. Did you not-

ice how the camera went right up to the action? In groups of people holding a

conversation, the camera went right up to the conversations,action, with a freq-

uently changing POV. I was never bored as the story just kept unfolding like the

peeling of an orange. I do remember while watching the credits,that I reflected

on what the editing process must have been for this film. I would have loved to

be present to see the editing process. I hope AC does an article on this film. I

was with a friend at the screening who used to write for the television series

"Tool Time", and he suggested to me that the film's length could have been cut

by one hour. Well considering that I'm like a modern day John Cassavetes,it was

the wrong thing to say to me. I think that it was edited splendidly. I proceeded

to tell him that cutting the film by one hour would have been pure bullshit. I was

also thinking about how well the Arri 235 could have been used shooting this film.

The camera did such a damn fine job of getting into the faces of people having dis-

cussions. Nothing about this film is intended to make one happy,it stirs the emot-

ions about injustice,social and economical problems in Africa. Some how I could

just not get clean after viewing this film,a shower wouldn't do it. I do want to get

the novel and read it. I can't remember a film recently with so much wonderful

use of color. I will wait about a week and go to see it again.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Sustaining Member

The one thing I really liked about the film was how it played with your (the audience's) perception of Tessa's ties to Arnold and the African culture. I don't want to spoil it for those who haven't seen it:

 

 

 

SPOILER:

 

 

Like the scene in the hospital when Tessa is breast feeding the black infant. You see Arnold, then Tessa with the baby, and then Justin looking obviously upset. The only thing I could think was "Oh my God," how is Justin going to react to this. Then Meirelles turns that thought on its head to alleviate the situation. But that idea is always on your mind. Like it's always on Justin's mind. Remarkable.

 

The other good example is in the morgue, when Tessa appears to be an African until Justin identifies her as his wife.

 

Those were two remarkable filmmaking feats.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Sustaining Member
For those of you who have seen it, what did you think of the blending of so many cinematography styles? And editing styles for that matter? There were doc style scenes lit with what appeared to be natural light, overexposed scenes that reminded me a lot of a Terry Gilliam film without the wide angles, there were scenes filmed with a webcam, and there were more traditional scenes as well. I kept wondering how that was impacting the narrative as I was watching it. Any thoughts?

I just saw the film an hour ago and I liked it a lot. I think the melange of different shooting styles were meant to make the viewer feel the different levels/ways in which Justin felt out of his element and in that regard, I found it very effective. Whenever Tessa was by herself (or atleast without Justin) Nairobi was vibrantly colorful as she seemed to have found her element. The scenes of her walking around the shanty-town with Arnold and up on the tracks by herself. When Justin was with her, it took on a more frazzled look, mostly with a more active camera showing Justins dis-orientation. Still colorful because he was with her but jumpy and unsure.

 

Contrasted with the times when he was alone and in the present, it was greens, blues and stark. Like the scenes at lunch with the Brit minister (Bill Nighy) or out on the golf course with the cabal of drug co officials and the MI5 guy Tim.

 

I also appreciated the fact that the villians were human. Like in life, they got to be villians not from inherent evil, but from watching benignly as a good intentions went awry and a cover-up was launched or looking the other way when they could have had a positive impact but instead slipped onto the track along the path to money. Still capable of kindness or of feeling regret and acting on it even after having parrticipated in some monstrously banal crime.

 

You feel the weight of what's pressed upon the powerless as they try in vain to get corruption exposed. This is when fiction can go where documentary could never get off the ground. This sort of story goes on in real life every day, right now I'm sure. But the companies have too many weapons and too much money to be stopped by underfunded do-gooders and when they ARE exposed, the denial machine just crushes them. The way this film presents how easy it is for well-meaning but naive people to be pushed out to the margins or worse for opposing the big money interests rings true to what you read in the paper (albeit in a different context) on a regular basis. But it wasn't preachy or strident. You discover the story along with Justin and it propels you along.

 

I need to see it again but it's on my short list for the best films of this year and as far as I could tell, Rachael Weisz looked great. Even though this was not a slick-looking production like "Mission Impossible" or something- the lighting was never stylized in that way- she looked naturally beautiful. Not made up. Unfortunately I read one of the previous posts so I was actually looking for acne problems. There were none that I could tell, if that makes anyone feel better. I know I feel better.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Sustaining Member

Was she not the most beautiful star of this summer? Could it be that "The

Constant Gardner" will be the best film of this summer. Is it not the finest

example of the art/craft of cinematography? I will be going to view it again

next monday to try and make up my mind on these questions. Did someone

once say,if it looks like a rabbit,hops like a rabbit,then its probably a rabbit?

 

Greg Gross

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just saw the movie this weekend, and was really impressed with it. Does anyone know if the DP cross-processed any of it, especially some of the exteriors in Africa? I noticed there was a credit for a DI at the end, so is it possible that they just shot high contrast negative and gave it that cross-processed look, or did they do it the old-fashioned way? Just wondering.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Sustaining Member
I think the melange of different shooting styles were meant to make the viewer feel the different levels/ways in which Justin felt out of his element and in that regard, I found it very effective. Whenever Tessa was by herself (or atleast without Justin) Nairobi was vibrantly colorful as she seemed to have found her element. The scenes of her walking around the shanty-town with Arnold and up on the tracks by herself. When Justin was with her, it took on a more frazzled look, mostly with a more active camera showing Justins dis-orientation. Still colorful because he was with her but jumpy and unsure.

That's a good analysis Tim. I think you've made an arguable point as to the film's style and the thought process that went into it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...
I noticed there was a credit for a DI at the end, so is it possible that they just shot high contrast negative and gave it that cross-processed look, or did they do it the old-fashioned way?

 

Cinematographer César Charlone, as he did for City of God, shot most of the dialogue in Super 16mm and the wide shots in 3-perf Super 35, using Kodak 5245, 5246 and 5218 in 35mm and 7245, 7246 and 7218 in 16mm. The whole film went through a 2K DI and printed on high contrast Fuji, so it has more resolution than the HDCAM DI (about 1.4K) they did for City of God. I never saw that film theatrically, but in this film I've found that the 35mm footage stands out too much; it's far more sharper, far more saturated and has much deeper blacks. Since they intercut both formats on the same scenes for covering different angles, sometimes I've found it very distracting and without a real motivation. In my opinion, they should have used only one format or at least tried to match them better.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Sustaining Member
I was also thinking about how well the Arri 235 could have been used shooting this film.

The camera did such a damn fine job of getting into the faces of people having dis-

cussions.

 

The 235 is an MOS camera, you can't shoot dialogue with it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Cinematographer César Charlone, as he did for City of God, shot most of the dialogue in Super 16mm and the wide shots in 3-perf Super 35, using Kodak 5245, 5246 and 5218 in 35mm and 7245, 7246 and 7218 in 16mm.

 

 

Igancio,

Just curious if he offered any insight as to the motivation for his decision to use S16 for dialogue shots. Cheers.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

From AC article, October 2005:

 

"I mixed the formats for the same reason I did on City of God: Super 16 is quick, easy and light, and Super 35 is good for wide shots when you want a lot of detail in the background. And we have so many tools in the DI that I've become dependent upon the things they can do".
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest Cameron Speaks

Since they intercut both formats on the same scenes for covering different angles, sometimes I've found it very distracting and without a real motivation. In my opinion, they should have used only one format or at least tried to match them better.

 

I don't think the normal, everyday movie watcher sees the difference of 16mm and 35mm when it's projected. I think it works for this film.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...
  • Sustaining Member

I saw this film yesterday and was seriously underimpressed. To me it was a film that felt very constructed but did not have a heart. I never bought into the relationship between R.Fiennes and R Weisz, it felt fake all the way through, like the director was trying to prove a point. And these peple they never shut up, do they? All this constant talking really went on my nerves, just let these characters breathe for christ's sake! For a film that wanted to feel real it failed utterly because of this.

 

The whole film was overdirected as well. This pseudo-documentary approach has been done so much better and much more expressively (by Michael Mann in 'The Insider' and 'Ali' for instance) and I thought DIs of such bad quality as this one were a thing of the past by now.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Regarding how Rachel Weisz looked in the film, I think it was refreshing. Sometimes I think DPs get a little carried away by their obsession to make all leading ladies look gorgeous all the time (although of course that is often studio- or star-driven). With "Gardner", Weisz plays a harsh, confrontational character in a fairly raw and sometimes gritty film set in the slums of Africa. I think too glossy or glamorous a look for her would not have served the story well.

 

I know for job security reasons a lot of DPs feel pressured make the performers (especially name actresses) look as good as possible, but it can go too far, especially when that visual approach does not correspond to the other cast (i.e. the leading men). I find it distracting when a particular performer is so obviously lit and shot differently than the rest of the cast/film. Ideally, everyone's there to serve the story...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 7 months later...

Well I loved it .. was waiting for wat the director of City of god would come up with next , and a John Le carre novel didnt really fit my perception of him, so thats 10 points right there. Apart from that the cinematography and editing was just as brazen and moving ( and unmotivated) as COG and though some people think it distracts from the script, which could have been played simpler, but it would'nt be a Fernando Moreilles film then would it ?

 

I also loved it because it showed that he can handle "complexer" characters and subtler nuances of story (than COG) as well as dynamite your brains visually. I am watching out for this guy .

 

SPOILER :

 

The lovemaking scene against the light. Good idea or bad ? ( I loved it , an by god i'm gonna use that idea one day )

 

And please , she's taking on huge medical companies singlehandedly and fightin for human rights ... an her acne's bein discussed ? Come on .. Should she have been lit like a miss universe actually tryin to save the world instead of jus talkin bout it an earning megabux ?!? Mebbe if such a person exists, but I don think so.

Edited by himmat deol
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'll second M.Jacoby's opion on this.

 

Well I loved it .. was waiting for wat the director of City of god would come up with next , and a John Le carre novel didnt really fit my perception of him, so thats 10 points right there. Apart from that the cinematography and editing was just as brazen and moving ( and unmotivated) as COG and though some people think it distracts from the script, which could have been played simpler, but it would'nt be a Fernando Moreilles film then would it ?

The whole point of the jigsaw editing was to distract from the cliched script.

Standard 70s corrupt corprate/government conspiracy story.

It wasn't 'A Parallax View', let alone a 'Chinatown'.

 

I also loved it because it showed that he can handle "complexer" characters and subtler nuances of story (than COG) as well as dynamite your brains visually. I am watching out for this guy .

I must have missed the complex characters, let alone the complexer ones, and subtle nuances in the story.

The function of the style is to compensate for the complete abscence of them.

 

The lovemaking scene against the light. Good idea or bad ? ( I loved it , an by god i'm gonna use that idea one day )

 

And please , she's taking on huge medical companies singlehandedly and fightin for human rights ... an her acne's bein discussed ? Come on .. Should she have been lit like a miss universe actually tryin to save the world instead of jus talkin bout it an earning megabux ?!? Mebbe if such a person exists, but I don think so.

 

The movie was sufficiently forgetable for me to have no memory of that scene.

The most memorable thing was the DVD extra of the complete AIDS play.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

Forum Sponsors

CineLab

FJS International

Abel Cine

Tai Audio

Wooden Camera

Metropolis Post

New Pro Video - New and Used Equipment

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Film Gears

Serious Gear

Visual Products

DMX-iT

Cinematography Books and Gear



×
×
  • Create New...