June 3, 2017

What Would a Terrence Malick Shot List Look Like?

The cinematography in Terrence Malick's films are undoubtedly gorgeous, but what do they look like on paper?

Director Terrence Malick is one of cinema's greatest visual philosophers. His collaborations with cinematographers John Toll, Tak Fujimoto, and Chivo Lubezki have resulted in beautiful cinematic landscapes where reality and dreams are synthesized into pure movie magic, but what does it all look like on paper? In this interesting video, Studio Binder has broken down several of Malick's iconic shots from Knight of Cups and The Tree of Life to show you what one of the Oscar-nominated director's shot lists might look like.

It's pretty fascinating to see a visual breakdown of the approach Malick and his world-class DPs take to designing the look and feel of every shot, especially considering how unique his visual style is. The one technique that seems to heavily influence this style is the Dutch angles, which Malick uses frequently in his work.

It's interesting because Dutch angles are traditionally reserved for moments of great cinematic tension, to instill doubt or worry into the audience, but Malick uses them to create his signature dreamlike state. Furthermore, it seems as though Malick uses two mechanisms with Dutch angles to switch between dreams and reality: dreamy Steadicam and realistic handheld camerawork.

What stood out to you when watching the video? How do you think Malick uses different cinematic elements to communicate with his audience? Let us know in the comments below!      

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