October 1, 2019

5 Movies That Prove Why No Can Shoot Like Roger Deakins

Roger Deakins is one of the best cinematographers ever. Let's take a moment to just appreciate his simple beauty in every shot. 

Look, you come to this website to learn, and I promise there will be some education here. Today, though, let's just bask in how cool Deakins is, and how much his work echoes the simplicity of life. 

Check out this video from Blake's Takes and let's talk after the jump. 

Deakins went to art school as a kid and fell in love with photography. He was obsessed with capturing the images of everyday life and while he found cinematography, that obsession continued to carry him. 

So much of the cinematography we highlight are these complex oners or insane shots. 

I really wanted to look at the beautiful simplicity that's marked Deakins' career and show how it really helps carry the story. 

Some of Roger Deakins' Best Cinematography

Skyfall (2012)

In an action movie we remember the set pieces, but can you remember an image that so iconically frames a movie's hero? 

James Bond is larger than life, so capturing him with any integrity seems impossible. Still, Deakins does it in a way that manages to be subtle and strip Bond down just to the essentials, something that Skyfall's story needed and lives on. 

Cameras used: 

Arri Alexa M, Zeiss Master Prime Lenses
Arri Alexa Plus, Zeiss Master Prime and Angenieux Optimo Lenses
Arri Alexa Studio, Zeiss Master Prime and Angenieux Optimo Lenses
Red Epic, Zeiss Master Prime Lenses (additional 2nd unit action shots)

A Serious Man (2009)

This sorely underseen masterpiece by the Coens involves a struggling professor and father who is in way over his head. While being an allegory for the Biblical story of Job, Deakins' cinematography here adds layer after layer to show just how outnumbered this man is -- and none does it better than the below shot.

There's so much that encompasses a human being, and here we see the formula that no one in his class will appreciate. 

This shot is simple yet adds depth and feeling to a person's strife. Telling us so much about a main character with just a visual.

Camera used:

Arriflex 535B, Zeiss Master Prime Lenses

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)

By the early 2000s, the legend of Roger Deakins had grown into something spectacular. So when he signed on to do a contemplative western, everyone was excited. There are so many shots from this movie that could be in the MoMA, but this one of a man against the west is special. 

Here, we see a guy whose legend will outlive him, juxtaposed against the endless horizon he conquered for a short period of time. We understand his life had meaning and also the mortality of it is essentially meaningless in the sands of time. 

All in one golden hour shot. 

Cameras used:

Arricam LT, Cooke S4, Arri Macro, Kinoptik Tégéa and Kardan Shift & Tilt Lenses

Arriflex 535B, Cooke S4, Arri Macro, Kinoptik Tégéa and Kardan Shift & Tilt Lenses

The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Perhaps Deakins' most famous shot comes from the reigning IMDB "Best Movie of All Time" champ, The Shawshank Redemption. A shot indicative of freedom. It hangs overhead and lowers on its subject. The lightning assisted by a few 10K lights. 

Still, this is not a complicated move. It's just the perfect move for the scenario. That's what Deakins does so well; allows his cinematography to blend in without hijacking the story. 

Cameras used:

Arriflex 35 BL4S, Zeiss Standard Speed and Super Speed Lenses
Moviecam Compact, Zeiss Standard Speed and Super Speed Lenses

Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

This last image from another underrated modern classic on Deakins' CV is both contemporary and poetic. This scene gives us the misplaced love of a character, but in the form of an advertising campaign of the future. 

Again, this shot forces us to ask questions. It's only a wide shot, but it perfectly sums up the theme of the movie. 

What's real? 

Cameras used:

Arri Alexa Mini, Zeiss Master Prime Lenses
Arri Alexa Plus, Zeiss Master Prime Lenses
Arri Alexa XT Studio, Zeiss Master Prime Lenses

What's next? Click here to watch how Deakins shot 1917 in one long take

Sam Mendes new World War I movie is pulling a Hitchcock's Rope and delivering the hell of war in one continuous take.      

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2 Comments

Who's "No"?

October 1, 2019 at 5:13PM

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bp
461

I think you a word.

October 1, 2019 at 8:52PM

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