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Technical aspects of cinematography the Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972) Essay


Though technology has contributed a lot in film making, it lacks the ability to make a superior artistic impression; rather, technique has and still achieves this artistic aspect. Despite the technological advancement that has brought improvement in film creation such as grain format, pixel count and horizontal resolution, effectiveness of pictures depend on the techniques with origin from hundreds of years ago.

A cinematography technique which deals with lighting of the images determines the effectiveness of transmission of the movies meaning which is intended by the film maker to the audience. Determining the lighting and the choice of the camera during the recording process of photographic images for film will determine the creativity and interpretation of the authors’ original work through the recorded physical events (Brown, 2002).

In cinematography, Chiaroscuro technique has played a major role in any film production. Chiaroscuro (an Italian name for ‘light and shade’) technique, uses combination of light and shadow to create a three dimensional palette from a two dimensional one through creation of background.

This give depth to the images determining the emotion associated with the movie. In the film “Godfather “ for instance, the producer uses this technique to bring out lively three dimensional images through employment of specific light-set-ups based on the paintings on the light and shadow already in hand.

The producer achieves this through putting his actor on these light set-ups providing appropriate light and shadow on the actors and background in a way that brings out the actors appearance to resemble the intended image of a Godfather and other stars such as Marlene Dietrich (Malkiewicz & Rogers, 1973).

The artists considers the effect that the real light has on the place of the shadow and the light in painting and through application of light, they are able to bring the painting into life. Through this technique, cinematographer brings out a scene with a clue of what the scene ought to appear.

From what he already knows concerning the scene, he is able to combine the colors on which to project towards the scene to bring a real image. The producer of the film draws on the picture pertaining the actor and the scene in printing to bring out real images from them. Unlike the early used techniques which never gave enthusiastic images, Chiaroscuro technique creates a connection between the images and the meaning intended.

The early painted images only gave an expression of flat images on a canvas. However, this technique gives life in the movie by creating scenes that resemble world’s reality by creating a pleasing effect of the image. The technique achieves this through division of the space into ample lights and shades which prevents confusion when watching the movie by leading the eye around the composition (Maltin, 1978).

As a result the viewer is enabled to see the primary subject first and slowly to the rest of the picture in a process that keeps parts in obscurity, bringing into sight the images in regard to the value of their pictorial. This is an aspect that creates emphasis as well as expression in the film through definition of scene based on the light and shade usage.

The viewers in return are capable of describing the pictures in a way that the artist intended. In Godfather film, the combination of color makes the viewer to describe the Godfather as mysterious and powerful. Despite that the script from which his characters were based on contributes to his title, if the color combination was poor there could have been conflict between the scripts description and what the viewers see (Dwyer & Patel, 2002).

This technique has however a connection with some other techniques such as color keying and widescreen techniques. In this technique, the image is filmed on the background which constitutes of just one color, and other parts of the video matching this preselected color are added on the background to replace the images posted. Different intensity of light is used to illuminate the images in order to make them clear and meaningful.

In addition, similar to the cinematography technique, these lights provide interpretation of the background and the pictures in the film. In addition these two techniques consider the key factor of separating the foreground and the background by effective color choice of the two grounds.

This technique and mostly as it is used in Godfather film is highly associated with the style to bring out the theme of a scene. In cases of murder for instance in Fredo’s death, the scenes are shot in gloomy grays, black and white lights. In these instances, the color combination brings out the inhuman side of the human nature with no love.

Brutality, shadowy, sadistic, unhealthy and seamy human side is experienced. On the currencies of violence and killing, these colors creates an oppressive ambiance of danger, anxiety, pessimism, fatalism as well as suspicion of likelihood of anything bad happening (Puzo, Bart & Thompson, 2005).

The Godfather film brings out the Chiaroscuro technique analysis throughout the film. There is an intensive choice of proper lighting set-up which visually brings out the dramatic intention of the story and actors.

The overhead lighting is used in the beginning of the movie to light Brando’s office and bring out dimensions that gives the scene clear visualization of both the character and the surrounding. While bright light is used on Brando in the foreground, dim light is used on the background to enable the viewer to observe and identify the primary subject.

This assists in identifying Brando’s activities but in the same time bringing a clear image of the office and bringing into sight other objects as per their importance in the film proceeding. In addition, the light is manipulated in a way that the character’s eyes for example Brando’s’, are in darkness, an aspect that makes it hard to tell what he or other characters are thinking (Brown 2002).

The same color atmosphere is used in shooting wedding scenes aimed at giving the film a visual relativity of brightness and darkness appearance. On one side this brings out or gives the scene an emotion that agrees with the mood of the function.

Bright yellow light with little dark shadows on the wedding of Don Vito Corleone’s daughter gives the wedding scene a perfect setting that reveals the jovial mood with people showing their faces both on the foreground and on background. In addition the optimal balance of clearness and darkness in the singing voice creates the warmth and depth of individual’s timber (American Film Institute, 1997).

Despite the script description of the characters traits, cinematography has achieved the best in bringing out the meaning of the drama, evoking the intended response by the writer to the viewers.

In interior, street, offices, garden and secluded meeting scenes, cinematography have achieved a color balance that creates the mood associated to action of that scene. Through expressionistic lighting, magnitude of focus, ominous shadows and skewed angles of camera, interiors low-key lighting and deep shadows in exterior urban night scenes brings out moody compositions.

Reference List

American Film Institute. (1997). The American Film Institute of motion pictures produced in the United State. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Brown, B. (2002). Cinematography: theory of practice: image making for cinematography, directors and photographers. Sewickley: Focal Press.

Dwyer, R & Patel, D. (2002). Cinema India: the visual culture of Hindi film. Piscataway: Rutgers University Press.

Malkiewicz, J. K. & Rogers, R. (1973). Cinematography; a guide of film makers and film teachers. Ohio: Van Nostrand Reinhold Co.

Maltin, L. (1978). The art of cinematographer: a survey and interview with five masters. North Chelmsford: Courier Dover Publications.

Puzo, M., Bart, P. & Thompson, R. (2005). The Godfather. New York: New American Library.

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IvyPanda. (2019, February 17). Technical aspects of cinematography the Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972). Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/technical-aspects-of-cinematography-the-godfather-francis-ford-coppola-1972/

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"Technical aspects of cinematography the Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972)." IvyPanda, 17 Feb. 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/technical-aspects-of-cinematography-the-godfather-francis-ford-coppola-1972/.

1. IvyPanda. "Technical aspects of cinematography the Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972)." February 17, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/technical-aspects-of-cinematography-the-godfather-francis-ford-coppola-1972/.


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IvyPanda. "Technical aspects of cinematography the Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972)." February 17, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/technical-aspects-of-cinematography-the-godfather-francis-ford-coppola-1972/.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "Technical aspects of cinematography the Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972)." February 17, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/technical-aspects-of-cinematography-the-godfather-francis-ford-coppola-1972/.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'Technical aspects of cinematography the Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972)'. 17 February.

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