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Portrait of a Lady on Fire


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I finally got to watch this film a few nights ago and the cinematography is just exquisite. 

I don’t know why Claire Mathon wasn’t given more accolades or awards for this. She won a Cesar and a couple of US film critics awards, but this outshone most of the Oscar nominations for 2020 I thought. Shot on a Red Monstro with Leitz Thalia full frame lenses on a very small budget.

I’m curious to hear what other people thought of it. 

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Based solely on the trailer, it strikes me as either absolutely masterful lighting or equally masterful leveraging of available light, possibly with the world's largest collection of diffusion and bounce. Obviously they put the pretty in the trailer to some extent but assuming it's all like that I take your point. Naturalistic and stylish simultaneously is hard, probably the hardest thing to do.

 

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On 9/22/2021 at 10:46 PM, Phil Rhodes said:

Based solely on the trailer, it strikes me as either absolutely masterful lighting or equally masterful leveraging of available light, possibly with the world's largest collection of diffusion and bounce. Obviously they put the pretty in the trailer to some extent but assuming it's all like that I take your point. Naturalistic and stylish simultaneously is hard, probably the hardest thing to do.

 

Every frame is like that. There are a few articles discussing the difficulty they had lighting inside a heritage protected building (the French are particularly dogmatic about their historical buildings), but yes, lots and lots of bounce and natural light. But every shot is a masterclass in controlled light, deliberate depth of field choices and framing. Sometimes it seems as if the light comes from the actresses skin itself. And the colour choices are sublime. Obviously there are a lot of painting references, and extended sequences showing the art-making process, which is catnip to me. The camera movement is often minimal, which is refreshing in this era. It’s an interesting blend of traditional techniques and quiet revolution, in terms of what the camera shows. 

A lot of period films like this choose to shoot on film almost by default, but I think film purists should watch this to get a sense of just how good digital cameras can look in the right hands. 
 

 

 

 

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On 9/24/2021 at 3:39 AM, Dom Jaeger said:

Every frame is like that. There are a few articles discussing the difficulty they had lighting inside a heritage protected building (the French are particularly dogmatic about their historical buildings), but yes, lots and lots of bounce and natural light. But every shot is a masterclass in controlled light, deliberate depth of field choices and framing. Sometimes it seems as if the light comes from the actresses skin itself. And the colour choices are sublime. Obviously there are a lot of painting references, and extended sequences showing the art-making process, which is catnip to me. The camera movement is often minimal, which is refreshing in this era. It’s an interesting blend of traditional techniques and quiet revolution, in terms of what the camera shows. 

A lot of period films like this choose to shoot on film almost by default, but I think film purists should watch this to get a sense of just how good digital cameras can look in the right hands. 
 

 

 

 

 

The movie is really good and the cinematography is wonderful but it doesn't use natural light that much, which I think is wonderful because the movie feels like it is lit by natural and available light sometimes!

https://www.red.com/news/claire-mathon-afc

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Posted (edited)
On 9/22/2021 at 1:05 PM, Dom Jaeger said:

I finally got to watch this film a few nights ago and the cinematography is just exquisite. 

I don’t know why Claire Mathon wasn’t given more accolades or awards for this. She won a Cesar and a couple of US film critics awards, but this outshone most of the Oscar nominations for 2020 I thought. Shot on a Red Monstro with Leitz Thalia full frame lenses on a very small budget.

I’m curious to hear what other people thought of it. 

yes I agree Dom beautiful film wasn't it......and for those who know nothing of this film here's the trailer. The beach shooting was particularly exquisite. As the unqualified, boring as hell, repetitive, film snob in here wouldnt this have been exquisite on 500T?! Regardless.....chapeau...beautiful piece. I love wind swept, contained epic period films like this....

...and for the record...to my eyes....RED cameras are shot (if this is the intent) to look way more like film than Alexa's.....and it seems I'm not the only one:

"In April 2018, I had the chance to participate in tests initiated by TSF around large sensor cameras (ALEXA 65, VENICE and MONSTRO 8K VV cameras). Testing gave me a chance to discuss with other colleagues the specifics of these new cameras. At the very first tests for Portrait of a Lady on Fire, we wanted to see 35mm images and digital images. I chose the RED MONSTRO 8K VV for these tests, convinced that the large sensor would bring the desired presence to these portraits. Its texture and color rendering, which I really like, also reminds me of 35mm film."

 

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On 9/24/2021 at 4:39 AM, Dom Jaeger said:

Every frame is like that. There are a few articles discussing the difficulty they had lighting inside a heritage protected building (the French are particularly dogmatic about their historical buildings), but yes, lots and lots of bounce and natural light. But every shot is a masterclass in controlled light, deliberate depth of field choices and framing. Sometimes it seems as if the light comes from the actresses skin itself. And the colour choices are sublime. Obviously there are a lot of painting references, and extended sequences showing the art-making process, which is catnip to me. The camera movement is often minimal, which is refreshing in this era. It’s an interesting blend of traditional techniques and quiet revolution, in terms of what the camera shows. 

A lot of period films like this choose to shoot on film almost by default, but I think film purists should watch this to get a sense of just how good digital cameras can look in the right hands. 

I'm soooo bored by excessive camera movement for the hell of it....toys for the boys and all that....lets use a this that and the other......I am particularly narked (good word eh?) by the typical trailer start to all films.....the aerial f*cking drone, establishing, swoop down shot!!!

Yours is an excellent, short, precise, technical review Dom. As I said earlier, RED cameras come closest to film to my eyes. Arri Alexa's are wayyyy off (to my eyes) and have that dunno what it is but I can spot it a mile off look about them.

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2 hours ago, Stephen Perera said:

I'm soooo bored by excessive camera movement ...

 

Quite a few cinematographer show/demo reels these days have a similar look, with the very slow motion tracking moves of the camera in nearly every shot, towards or away from the subject, then in the next shot to the left, then to the right in the following shot, and so on. Always these 'moody', super-suave moves. Then come the drone shots. It's cinematographic kitsch.

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Just now, Jon O'Brien said:

Quite a few cinematographer show/demo reels these days have a similar look, with the very slow motion tracking moves of the camera in nearly every shot, towards or away from the subject, then in the next shot to the left, then to the right in the following shot, and so on. Always these 'moody', super-suave moves. Then come the drone shots. It's cinematographic kitsch.

absolutely....so bored by it all on YouTube especially

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