I still can't get my head around that the extras were strapped to the ground. I was just so convinced it was some sort of green screen double take, but if it's not I do not for the life of me understand how this is done. That's when I have stills of the filming and have looked at the BTS material.. This is mindblowing.
A great article, and a lovely celebration of Euphoria! This is my take.
2. Visually mirrored scene from Ms. 45 by Abel Ferrara
3. Jules in her room as alluding to Ophelia painting seen in Jules' and Kat's art class
4. Cassie riding the merry-go-round with Daniel and being seen by the crowd of bystanders as symbolising her skating and being filmed unwantingly
5. The merry-go-round bystanders as symbolising the crowd by the pool as Maddy seduces Tyler
6. Brian DePalma's Scarface
7. Brian DePalma's Carrie
8. The television and movie excerpts watched by characters in Euphoria all allude to scenes within Euphoria
9. Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey
10. Kat's One Direction fantasy is being visually replicated as Kat is seduced by Ethan
11. Smells Like Teen Spirit
I also wrote a spontaneous essay on the subject a few weeks ago:
I love Euphoria because the visual storytelling is alongside - and surpasses - that of Park Chan-wook, because the cinematography draws from the expressionist cinema of Dario Argento, because the melodramatic heights is as non-sentimental, heartfelt and on a par with, say, Todd Hayne's Carol. Because the cinema of Carl Th. Dreyer is, vividly and boldly, celebrated in a series of perfectly beautiful close-ups of the crying and the tormented. Because the playful, rapid and unexpected narration, and, with it, a free flowing camera, could all relate to the most brilliant parts in the cinema of Gaspar Noé.
More than the masterful storytelling, the visual symbolism, the bold allusions to Brian DePalma, Scorcese, Kubrick and a bunch of halfway forgotten 70's 80's and 90's movies, what I love the most about Euphoria is the characters - and the actors that portray them. There's a scene in which Kat, a rounded teenager rebelling the world by becoming a webcam dominatrix, bursts out laughing at the tiny dick of the harmless chubby guy at the other side of the laptop screen. It's impossible not to get smitten by the laughter, it's a scene that could not have reached this height of actor brilliance were it not entirely improvised (or, at least not rehearsed in any way).
Director Sam Levinson made it a point to interview the handpicked actors for hours, and then collaborated - with some of them - in creating the characters. In this he works in the tradition of John Cassavetes: in spite of Euphoria being a meticulously planned production there's traces of Cassavetes' fluid improvisation when it comes to the way the actors portray their characters. In this, there is also the qualities of collaboration between actor and director found in John Cameron Mitchell's masterpiece Shortbus.
"People are always telling me about great TV shows. How I just have to watch this show. But the truth is, I don't want good TV. I don't want a novel, or some slow burn, or anything that feels like work. That's why I love reality TV. It's funny, it's dramatic, and I can focus on it. It's pure, effortless entertainment."
I started watching Euphoria like Rue (quoted above) watches Love Island. She is depressed and can't do anything else than to watch love Island for, like, 48 hours straight. For me, I didn't want to do anything that involved any brain activity. I had dropped the project of watching through the Kenji Mizoguchi box set. I still hadn't watched the latest Nuri Bilge Ceylan (which is my favorite contemporary director, surpassing Mallick). I just wanted to inject my brain with bland entertainment. I started watching Euphoria during a state of total depression, expecting nothing, wanting nothing.
A few episodes later, I realized that what I had selected at random to drain my brain was nothing but a cinematic masterpiece, well and truly.
There's a scene in which - spoiler here! - Rue and Jules (you'll get to know these two) finally kiss. For all the millenial nihilism that some would say is one of the themes of Euphoria.. In this scene, the kiss scene, Euphoria brings the classic movie kiss to the screen, a cinema kiss as though borrowed from a Douglas Sirk melodrama. There is a very brave balancing going on between pastiche and beauty - the dangers of the pastiche is being deliberately, masterfully, toyed with, to ultimately being completely washed away by the heartfelt beauty of the moment; one of the reasons being precisely that the scene draws upon and celebrates all that we know of movie kisses. It is in this sense that the music, a string piece from Nicholas Roeg's Don't Look Now, composed by Pino Donaggio, couldn't be more fitting.
I could write pages celebrating the cinematic brilliance of Euphoria - there's just so much to be said.
Like, how, through all the depictions of depression and abuse, Euphoria is - also - a masterful celebration of the hilarious and the comic.
Or like the fact that Euphoria is utterly surreal. Suddenly there is a visiting amusement park in town: every character in the story join the festivities, in order to create a timespan in which they and their doings are able to narratively intertwine within the boundaries of one single enclosed area. The local drug dealers set up pretzel stand. It is all delightfully surreal, it is all brilliant.
There's the hilarious and never questioned scenario of small town millennials going to the halloween party dressed up as characters out of movies from decades ago (movies of which some, on top of it, could only be appreciated, let alone known, by the very most world detached of film buffs).
There's the introductory piece of each episode of Euphoria: cinematic short stories that cover the main characters' childhoods and that are all, in themselves, encapsulated cinematic masterpieces in their own right.
There's Euphoria bursting into a spectacular crescendo, both musically and cinematically, as the teen drama is turned into a musical.
And - on another note - there's the argument that one of the overarching themes of the entire story is the American opioid epidemic.
After having watched the series maybe four times in a row, I ended up picking it apart. There's complete scenes that are detailed allusions to Scorcese's Scarface and Carrie. There are scenes that are connected to each other in terms of disguised symbolism, referring to each other and visually mirroring each other. There's a close-up of the famous pre-raphaelite painting Ophelia: the mise-en-scène of a later scene is architected after the painting. There are a couple of television screens here and there in certain scenes, displaying bland content that, sometimes, doesn't seem to make any sense or have any connection to anything: taking a closer look, it turns out that it is references to scenes within Euphoria itself (the art term 'Mise en Abyme' is here appropriate).
If this isn't cinematic brilliance, I don't know what is.
And that's me, having fallen helplessly in love with "television entertainment" from the wrong side of the tracks....
Am I alone?
"Hotel room ending in 2001: A Space Odyssey recreates Frank Poole vs. HAL 9000 chess moves"