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« #18015 : October 18, 2018, 11:03:27 PM »

I donít agree with the premise that FAFDM has bad cinematography - though it doesnít have a scene with bravura camerawork that calls attention to itself like Ecstasy of Gold, the Trio, or Jillís arrival at Sweetwater. Anyway, there is more to a movie than cinematography amd camerawork. If you only gave me one movie for my desert island, itís FAFDM.

The production design, the look, the feel, the grittiness, the faces of all the bad guys, the scenes in the church, Gian Maria Volonte - there is plenty that FAFDM has better than the others.

I hope I donít sound like I am bashing the others: if FAFDM is my #1, the other Leone films are all close behind at #2, #3, etc. There is sublime greatness in all of them - and none of the flaws that are in OUATIA, btw, which is a mess and a masterpiece at the same time ;) I donít even think that the missing 25 mins. or so explain everything. Maybe the additional missing hours would.

But I digress ...


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« #18016 : October 19, 2018, 05:02:35 AM »

I think photography got easily better in every decade, due to technical advance, and of course the DoP's copied what was achieved by others.

And I think there was already a lot of great color photography in the 60s (not so much in the 50s), and Leone's films after FAFDM were not really superior to many others, but surely superior to the then standards.
Interestingly in my first film encyclopaedia from 1976 neither Morricone nor Delli Colli have an own entry. Even more funny Morricone isn't mentioned a single time on the whole 1500 pages, Delli Colli only once in connection with an early film called Il Ladro di Bagdad (A. Lubin, 1961). Leone has an entry, but none of his films.


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« #18017 : October 20, 2018, 02:14:58 AM »

I donít agree with the premise that FAFDM has bad cinematography - though it doesnít have a scene with bravura camerawork that calls attention to itself like Ecstasy of Gold, the Trio, or Jillís arrival at Sweetwater. Anyway, there is more to a movie than cinematography amd camerawork. If you only gave me one movie for my desert island, itís FAFDM.

The production design, the look, the feel, the grittiness, the faces of all the bad guys, the scenes in the church, Gian Maria Volonte - there is plenty that FAFDM has better than the others.

I hope I donít sound like I am bashing the others: if FAFDM is my #1, the other Leone films are all close behind at #2, #3, etc. There is sublime greatness in all of them - and none of the flaws that are in OUATIA, btw, which is a mess and a masterpiece at the same time ;) I donít even think that the missing 25 mins. or so explain everything. Maybe the additional missing hours would.

But I digress ...

I love the grittiness of FAFDM too, Leone never went that gritty afterwards and I would have loved him to.

To be clear, I'm specifically talking about cinematography, not directing. So Leone's directing is great (although not as impressive as in other works, it was very inventive, maybe more so) but the way the DoP executed the shots is lacking: absolutely terrible lighting and not very precise framing/lens choice (although, once again, the "idea" of the shots and their framing is good most of the time).


I think photography got easily better in every decade, due to technical advance, and of course the DoP's copied what was achieved by others.

Two huge ligthing deal breakers that have nothing to do with technical advance and that they do a lot in FAFDM:

- they often use a hard light to harshly light the faces of the actors (including Clint). Some cinematographers have used this to great effect, but in FAFDM's case, just like in the TV shows of that time, this was just a stupid "lit the face with all you have so the audience see the face - also, i don't know anything about lighting a color film" case.
- they VERY often put the source of the light very close to the camera, which results in a lot of flatened out images without any contrast.

In other words, a good chunk of the film looks like it was shot by a paparazzi with a huge flashlight right on top of his camera.

Leone's films after FAFDM were not really superior to many others, but surely superior to the then standards.

You may have a case for indoor cinematography, but some of Delli Colli's outdoor work in GBU or OUATITW stayed unmatched for over 30 years. Especially what he did with close up shots. His (extreme) wide shot game was way above the competition too, but his main trick (secret contrejour) was easy to copy. When it comes to the framing of a shot, he was great too but in the way Deakins is nowadays: terrific but totally by the book, which means not that inventive or innovative.

« : October 20, 2018, 02:19:50 AM noodles_leone »


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« #18018 : October 20, 2018, 04:42:24 AM »

I think the director does/should does the framing.

Actually the DoP should only do what the director wants him to do. Of course I know that reality often looks different.


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« #18019 : October 20, 2018, 06:04:08 AM »

- they often use a hard light to harshly light the faces of the actors (including Clint). Some cinematographers have used this to great effect, but in FAFDM's case, just like in the TV shows of that time, this was just a stupid "lit the face with all you have so the audience see the face - also, i don't know anything about lighting a color film" case.

But he was hardly going to use soft light to "glamorize" their faces! And with TV shows wasn't it more to do with the studio lighting of the time?

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« #18020 : October 20, 2018, 07:39:52 AM »

I think the director does/should does the framing.

Actually the DoP should only do what the director wants him to do. Of course I know that reality often looks different.

No matter what "should" be, the reality is always different because it is more complex. The director work with people with different head of departments, the most famous being the DoP, and if these head of departments aren't   improving the film by being there, they should leave the set right now.

For a DoP it means that the framing of a shot is a collaborative work with the director. The director SHOULD have a clear vision of the shot he wants, but the DoP is their to execute the shot in a better way than the director would: he is supposed to be better than the director at composing a frame. Keep in mind the DoP isn't even always the operator, and that means you have yet another guy weighing in. Operating a moving cam (let's say a steadycam) is yet another art form: it's a performance, and the performer has to feel both the scene and everything that compose it inside their own body: the few centimeters the actor moved to the left that are different from the previous take, the exact amount of lens flare the camera will catch during the pan.... (I'm talking about complex movements, not a basic push in). Now you have the focus puller. Of course, this guy too is supposed to do "exactly what the director says", but in the end, the exact speed at which you pull the focus depends on the exact speed the actor turns around, so in the end it all comes to how the focus puller really feels. And the focus puller is just a camera assistant. So we already have 3 people in the camera department who just CANNOT just do "what the director says". It's just not physically possible, they have to adapt his directions to the LIVE performance happening in front of them.

I could also talk about how the performance of the actors, the work of the set designer or the costume designer, the way the first AD directs the extras and even the weather fundamentally change the framing of a shot.

This is true even when the director is Leone, Hitchcock or Kubrick, and this is true whatever the director says. Once you put a foot on a set, you understand how the old "filmmaking is a collaborative art/medium" phrase is more than a clichť. Only the shots that are operated by the filmmaker are "framed" by the director. I'm not sure it happened even once on a Leone set. I know for a fact Kubrick did it from time to time, Ridley Scott did it sometimes too in his first films (he comes from advertising so he comes from small budget sets where these things often happen) and Michael Bay often do it.

On the Leone sets, I'm sure Leone had better things to do than operate the camera. More importantly the difference in the quality of the framing (I include lens choice in the framing) between GBU/OUATITW and DYS is so huge you know without the shadow of a doubt who to thank for.

But he was hardly going to use soft light to "glamorize" their faces!

And yet their are tons of ways to do the same thing in a way that isn't an insult to good taste. He used these ways on every single following film he did. Poor lighting is poor lighting :)



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« #18021 : October 20, 2018, 01:41:21 PM »

- they VERY often put the source of the light very close to the camera, which results in a lot of flatened out images without any contrast.
If I'm not mistaken, much of the lighting in the 60s was done in the "high-key" style: key light, fill light, back light. This was certainly the way television was shot, but it seems a heck of a lot of American films at the time were filmed this way too. A hallmark of the technique was that it reduced contrast and flattened the image. I don't know if this is the way FAFDM was shot, and maybe set ups were changed quite a bit from shot to shot, but this may account for some or all of the bad lighting. It was a great day when high-key lighting was junked as the standard for American color films (not that the method can't be used effectively when warranted: it must have used on 2001, for example).

I like your comment on the way in which things were lit for outdoor shots in GBU and following. The amazing thing about those films is that they must have used reflectors in many if not all outdoor shots. Yet their use is completely invisible. Recently I was re-watching Polanski's "The Pianist" thinking I was going to see some great images. Almost every outdoor shot is ruined by the obvious use of reflectors. I couldn't pay attention to the movie, the images were so badly lit.

« : October 20, 2018, 06:01:53 PM dave jenkins »


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« #18022 : October 21, 2018, 05:14:52 AM »

If I'm not mistaken, much of the lighting in the 60s was done in the "high-key" style: key light, fill light, back light. This was certainly the way television was shot, but it seems a heck of a lot of American films at the time were filmed this way too. A hallmark of the technique was that it reduced contrast and flattened the image. I don't know if this is the way FAFDM was shot, and maybe set ups were changed quite a bit from shot to shot, but this may account for some or all of the bad lighting. It was a great day when high-key lighting was junked as the standard for American color films (not that the method can't be used effectively when warranted: it must have used on 2001, for example).

Yeah, the infamous 3 points lighting. Although the fill light is now less and less mandatory, that 3 points scheme is still overused in interviews and TV work these days... although the popularization of big sensors even in cheap cameras now helps small crews to be more creative. Also, some film noir inspired cinematography from the 90's (Se7en) and the increased low light sensitivity of digital cameras has now made dark and/or contrasted lighting more acceptable even in documentaries and tv commercials.

In the end, every tool in (and out of) the box can be used effectively. But when it's used as a basic, fits every film, scene and mood trick, it isn't cinema anymore: it's corporate crap (even more so when it objectively looks terrible). And Delli Colli knew better.

I like your comment on the way in which things were lit for outdoor shots in GBU and following. The amazing thing about those films is that they must have used reflectors in many if not all outdoor shots. Yet their use is completely invisible. Recently I was re-watching Polanski's "The Pianist" thinking I was going to see some great images. Almost every outdoor shot is ruined by the obvious use of reflectors. I couldn't pay attention to the movie, the images were so badly lit.

I haven't seen it for years. I don't remember the flashy reflectors, I'll check it out, you made me curious :)

« : October 21, 2018, 05:20:25 AM noodles_leone »


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« #18023 : October 21, 2018, 08:33:06 AM »

I like your comment on the way in which things were lit for outdoor shots in GBU and following. The amazing thing about those films is that they must have used reflectors in many if not all outdoor shots. Yet their use is completely invisible.

Decades ago, a friend going to college in the mid-west mailed me a several-page article about the making of a spaghetti western called "Indio Black", which was re-named "Adios, Sabata" for US release.  The article contained at least one photo of Gianfranco Parolini using simple aluminum reflectors to light up actors for the scenes.
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/a/a6/Indio-black-sai-che-ti-dico-sei-un-gran-figlio-di-italian-movie-poster-md.jpg

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« #18024 : October 21, 2018, 09:26:52 AM »

No matter what "should" be, the reality is always different because it is more complex. The director work with people with different head of departments, the most famous being the DoP, and if these head of departments aren't  improving the film by being there, they should leave the set right now.

For a DoP it means that the framing of a shot is a collaborative work with the director. The director SHOULD have a clear vision of the shot he wants, but the DoP is their to execute the shot in a better way than the director would: he is supposed to be better than the director at composing a frame.

If the director is an artist, the film's creative force, he should be the one who is better with the framing.


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« #18025 : October 21, 2018, 09:36:38 AM »

If the director is an artist, the film's creative force, he should be the one who is better with the framing.

Do you know any good director who is better at framing than his (good) DoP?
I know that people like Hitchcock and Leone claim they are, but they're clearly not. I mentioned Kubrick in an earlier post, but maybe he could be a good example for your case. But that's about it.

I'm convinced the director should come up with the decoupage, and have a clear idea of each shot, though.

« : October 21, 2018, 09:41:05 AM noodles_leone »


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« #18026 : October 21, 2018, 11:16:56 AM »

Do you know any good director who is better at framing than his (good) DoP?
I know that people like Hitchcock and Leone claim they are, but they're clearly not. I mentioned Kubrick in an earlier post, but maybe he could be a good example for your case. But that's about it.

I'm convinced the director should come up with the decoupage, and have a clear idea of each shot, though.
I agree that a DP should be better than the director, but how could you ever really tell what elements of a shot could be attributed to a director vs. the DoP...if you're not there to witness it?

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« #18027 : October 21, 2018, 11:21:35 AM »

Do you know any good director who is better at framing than his (good) DoP?

How could I know something like that for sure?

Quote
I know that people like Hitchcock and Leone claim they are, but they're clearly not.

How could you know the for sure?

I think we never know for sure who is responsible for what. We can only assume.

Maybe you should give some Leone examples where the framing is different in his films with Dallamano, Delli Colli and Ruzzolini.

And how you recognizes who did the framing.


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« #18028 : October 21, 2018, 12:33:53 PM »

How could I know something like that for sure?

How could you know the for sure?

I think we never know for sure who is responsible for what. We can only assume.

Maybe you should give some Leone examples where the framing is different in his films with Dallamano, Delli Colli and Ruzzolini.

And how you recognizes who did the framing.

For Leone itís just very, very, very obvious in almost every single shot. You can see the ideas are there in FAFDM but lacking in execution, whereas in GBU and OUATITW the execution is so precise youíve got a money shot every 3 or 4 shots. Someone could argue this is because Leone was learning his craft, and it is partly true, but then he does DYS without Delli Colli and the framing takes a HUGE step back... then itís back at the top (in a different way) with OUATIA.

We could analyze shot by shot, I donít have the time to do it this week, but iím sure youíll agree if you watch clips from these movies and focusing on that. Your eye is well trained (I donít mean that in a condescending way).

Now I donít want to caricature my own point so here is a small nuance: they had Delli Colli only when they had enough money to afford to hire him (Leone himself said he didnít work with Delli Colli on DYS because of budget issues), which means Delli Colli was only there when the money was good. It means more time, better sets and costumes, more production value as a whole. So money makes it easier to have a better image. Still, I have absolutely no doubt on the incredible importance of Delli Colliís input on Leoneís shots. The evidence is just too obvious right in front of my eyes on almost every single shot.

« : October 21, 2018, 12:51:01 PM noodles_leone »


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« #18029 : October 21, 2018, 05:24:15 PM »

Your criticism of FAFDM is all about cinematography?

I may not be nearly as well-versed in cinematography as you are - perhaps ignorance is bliss ;) But is that your only criticism?

Btw - whether you take this for better or worse - FAFDM was really the last Leone film that had no weighty theme, just a good olí fashioned shoot Ďem up. (I would argue that the anti-war message of GBU isnít particulay weighty either - kinda tossed in as an aside, with the war getting in the way of another shoot Ďem up ;)

This comment is just an observation, not a criticism. I can enjoy both serious films and hellzapoppin films :)


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