Prisoners: What’s with the tree?

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  • #215359

      Hello Team Deakins,

      This is my first time on the site. I am a film student at university in my third year, and after this year’s annual pilgrimage to the Mecca that is Prisoners, I had a question that I needed the official word on. Around 9 minutes in (according to Netflix), we cut from an interior of the parents enjoying a charmingly awful trumpet solo to an exterior of the front of the home, dollying into a tree with a red door conspicously placed out of focus and on the right third line and a second tree to the left, which gets cut off at then end of the dolly move.

      My question is, why this specific composition? I can come up with some story-based metaphors (maze-like bark, bleak external vs warm internal), but the composition is almost alien to me and I would love to hear the reasoning. The tree is so domineering and powerful in frame, when I would assume that we would want to focus on the door/home, or at least draw more attention to it.

      Excited to hear back!


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    • #215364
      Roger Deakins

        That shot again! Denis simply wanted that shot, something mysterious and that implied more than what you see. We looked at leaving the focus deep and at different compositions but the shot just felt right as you see it in the film. Is it what it means or what it makes you feel.


          Congratulations Roger, that shot is entering the territory of Ozu’s famous vase shot in ‘Late Spring’, which people try to understand until today, haha.



            It could be many things. Sometimes I think that the trees as the only witnesses to the kidnapping.

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