Thursday, March 21, 2013

Jurassic Park is just such an incredible well-lit film, oh my god.

When the crew sees the baby raptor being born, Spielberg takes us from this really warm moment under the heat lamp:

To Ian Malcolm leaning on a desk, with a bright white lamp as a spotlight insisting that we really pay attention - in this spotlit set-up he delivers the most important line of the film, "Life finds a way."

To Dr. Grant, frightened, hit with an alarming noirish backlight as he realizes he's holding a velociraptor.

Three really evocative lighting schemes within the same scene, totally diagetic and effortlessly communicative.

Absolute masterwork.


  1. The technique used in the third picture is called "reverse key-lighting".

    1. I never noticed how often Spielberg employs it in JP, he always motivates it within the scene but skirts damn close to pure expressionist lighting at points.

  2. oh god please do a whole in-depth thing on Jurassic Park I know I don't deserve it but please

  3. ditto Rick haha. It's always fun to find the formalist candy in the escapist-entertainment grass; and there's so much of it in Spielberg. Something that even his most ardent detractors should recognize, although they often don't. Another pleasing anachronism he brings to the blockbuster template: a fondness for naturalistic acting and mise en scene (see CE3K particularly, I think it was Dreyfuss who said he could direct a documentary film about suburbia with just as much passion as a sci-fi spectacle; hell, maybe he did - & then just combined them into the same movie).

  4. Also, how can I see your film? The link on the sidebar no longer works.

  5. Youtube pulled it? Damn. I dunno, maybe I'll re-up. Keep ya eyes peeled on the sidebar.

    The naturalism in Spielberg's works is a very overlooked element of their success - compare the background workers in JP with those in Westworld's. Spielberg's always seem to have a story on their face. I don't know how he does it.

  6. Agreed. Star Wars is the same way, even though it's in many ways a live-action cartoon, the sets and extras feel so lived-in/alive (even those an anonymous storm troopers have room for casual shop talk before Obi-Wan distracts them). That's one reason I feel these films may belong more with the New Hollywood films they put out of business than the CGI surface-oriented blockbusters they helped spawn.

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