Coin toss scene camera placement (2 replies)
I realized recently the setups during No Country's coin toss scene frequently switch between OTS and singles, although the majority of the scene is actually shot in OTS. I'm wondering why you shot such a pivotal scene like this when most of your dialogue scenes are shot reverse shot singles with the camera right between the characters, a setup which you've been particularly vocal about using. In fact now that I think about it I can't remember any of your scenes off the top of my head that use OTS other than this one. With this being one of your most well known scenes I would love to know your thought process!
Anyway, hope to hear from you. Thanks!
I think the OTS in this scene gives the impression of threat, that the person behind the counter can't escape, plus by having Bardem in both angles, you have more suspense because he may do something suddenly even when the camera is favoring the man behind the counter. Clean singles would have made the physical distance and chance for violence between them less clear.
I absolutely love this scene, it truly gives Bardem a presence of what it would feel like to be alone in a room with him, I especially like the part where he momentarily chokes on the seeds that he is eating, you feel with that, he’s been inconvenienced to the point that this man is a dead man for sure.
But it also shows a side of mercy that I don’t think we saw before in the film. He wasn’t made into this ruthless one-dimensional killing machine, his nature is described as the coin that he tosses, an encounter of chance but it was destined, nevertheless to reach that moment in time. So there are no accidental moments for him, it’s just a destiny moment. Remember, he was just passing by with no lethal intent so the moment needed to be open to chance, especially after he lays down the wrapper on the counter. It’s just intense and a very funny scene.
What’s odd is that Bardem seemed celebratory that the man won the coin toss, when he says “well done”. It’s also a moment where audiences connect more with the complex character.