Camera Choice in 1917

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  • #169432
    BM459
    Participant

    Dear Roger,

    I re-watched 1917 tonight. A true masterpiece. Here is a question of personal taste, but I wonder: did you ever consider using more handheld in the film? There are a few moments where I felt a handheld camera on the shoulder of an operator could’ve possibly reflected the experience of the characters better than the gliding, floating camera you went with. Perhaps it would’ve made the camera work too noticeable though. I think you ultimately made the right choice, but I am curious if it was ever something you thought about? And if you think it would’ve worked in places?

    Many thanks!

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  • #169433
    Roger Deakins
    Keymaster

    In early conversations we considered shooting entirely with a hand-held camera as we had done on the earlier film, ‘Jarhead’. But as we developed our storyboards we could see that there were many occasions the camera wanted to be more solid and more observational. To shoot some scenes hand-held may well have worked but what would those scenes be and why those in particular? We were shooting on a reasonably long lens so any hand-held work would have been very ‘active’, which we felt would break the spell of the single shot.
    I shall be interested in watching the recent ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ to see their approach.

    #169437
    BM459
    Participant

    Interesting! Thank you for the response. Was the handheld in Jarhead chosen to be observational? I find that film to be very visceral.

    I wondered if perhaps the No Man’s Land scene would’ve benefited from something in the camera to reflect the unstable footing of the characters, though I think the solid camera actually depicts that better, especially that brilliant close up of the feet sliding in the mud. It might’ve been unhelpful to have a camera operator slipping around in the mud too! I think the “shot” of the camera rising above the trench for the first glimpse of No Man’s Land is the best moment in the film. It is absolutely bone-chilling, and the first time that the effect of the single take really makes an impact.

    I also am interested to see ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’. It looks outstanding.

    #169444
    Roger Deakins
    Keymaster

    Ahh! I’ve corrected that. I should have said more observational. ‘Jarhead’ was definitely more subjective!
    Had we gone hand-held I would have been the operator slipping around in the mud so perhaps that was another reason I didn’t favor hand-held! Seriously though, we wanted that solid unrelenting forward movement that the Trinity, the wire rigs and the crane gave us.

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