The eye of the camera is a window into the filmmaker’s soul.
Think of it this way, Peter Jackson took on the awesome beast that is LOTR and he created images like this;
What you’re seeing is Mr. Jackson’s soul, as it experienced Lord of the Rings. He saw the mountains like his home of New Zealand, the Orcs like creatures brewed in the ground mixed with the warrior prowess of the Maori, and the captivating beauty of the land of the elves like the hidden paradises around which he grew up.
But he didn’t just envision the look of these things, he envisioned how the audience would see these things. Take the following for example:
Boromir is currently the coward in this scene. He gets a basic CU (close-up), which is traditionally from the mid-chest to the top of the head. Legolas on the other hand is defending his honor, showing that he is honorable and the one to pay attention to of the pair. He gets a closer CU.
He probably also gets that because someone thought he was prettier. Well, he was cast as the Elf.
Do you see how Mr. Jackson is showing you his soul? He shot The Fellowship of the Ring in a specific way so that you would feel the same way he feels about everyone and everything on screen.
But he didn’t just do it in a basic, boring, lets-cover-all-the-angles way. He created something gorgeous. CineBeauty – the act of using a video camera to create something beautiful.
Even hideous, creepy, evil things are somehow beautiful as seen through the eyes of filmmakers like Jackson.
There are so many things in the cinematography of the Fellowship of the Ring that are beautiful. And I haven’t even seen it in years. We could talk about the use of lighting to convey good vs. evil. We could talk about hero shots and sweeping angles and maximizing tension and showing the connectedness of a team…but this is just a post scratching the surface of beauty and the soul of the filmmaker.
What is CineBeauty to you? What other movies and filmmakers create gorgeous visuals to tell their stories? Go watch a movie and find out.