Part 3: Camera Angles and Shot-sizes

[Fig. 3.1] Still taken from “The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring”

[Fig. 3.1] Still taken from “The Lord of the Rings:
Fellowship of the Ring”

Known for his attention to detail and visual trademarks, Peter Jackson creates elaborate arrangements within his films to intrigue his audiences and develop the emotional narratives. Jackson’s most common visual trademark is shooting close-ups of actors, whilst keeping the depth of field very short with wide-angle lenses. One of his most famous films, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), uses this technique. [Fig. 3.1]. “Epic films that use widescreen for elaborate visual compositions and effects are reduced in impact when seen in other formats.” (Corrigan and White, 107). This choice of aspect ratio is best seen on a large cinematic screen, and shapes our experience to align with the themes of the film; allowing us to view as much action onscreen as possible.

[Fig. 3.2] Close-up, widescreen angle still taken from “King Kong”

[Fig. 3.2] Close-up, widescreen angle still taken from “King Kong”

Another one of Jackson’s well-known film traits is his insistence on ‘coverage’. All of his scenes for any film are shot from as many angles as possible, allowing for more exposure and clips to edit. Even scenes of a simple conversation may contain various different camera angles and shots-sizes, such as the sequence in King Kong where Kong sits upon the Empire State Building, watching the sunrise with Ann. There is a sense of simplicity, of calmness and love, as they sit together. The camera switches between the subjective point of views (POV) of both Kong and Ann, the latter in a close-up, wide angle shot. [Fig. 3.2]. We see what they see of one another and their surroundings, leaving us unprepared for the next devastating clip. As defined in The Film Experience; a subjective point of view “re-creates the perspective of a character through camera placement.” (pg. 105). Thus we are able to focus on a specific object or character, experiencing similar emotions and understandings of the film.

[Fig. 3.3] Extreme long shot still taken from  “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”

[Fig. 3.3] Extreme long shot still taken from
“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”

Similarly, in The Hobbit we see similar emotions between Kili and Tauriel, during one of their conversations. When Kili is locked up, Tauriel wanders past and they begin to talk. With the underscoring of flute music (adding to the emotion), they discuss topics of importance to each other, creating a sense of familiarity between the two characters. This sequence also consists of subjective point of views, along with various shot-sizes, such as extreme long shots [Fig. 3.3] and medium close ups. “Melodramatic or romantic films about personal relationships often feature a predominance of medium close-ups and medium shots to capture the facial expressions of the characters.” (Corrigan and White, 111). In this particular sequence of The Hobbit, the use of medium close ups establishes that a relationship is blossoming between Kili and Tauriel. They appear friendly and curious towards one another’s’ stories, and this can be seen through the expressions upon their faces [Fig. 3.4a-3.4b].

Jackson’s use of different camera angles and shot-sizes enables him to create a real sense of high quality work and detailed settings. His attention to detail ensured for realistic and recognisable designs, allowing the viewer to truly immerse themselves in the world of the film.


References:

  • Corrigan, Timothy and Patricia White. The Film Experience: An Introduction. 3rd Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2012. Print.
  • King Kong. Dir. Peter Jackson. WingNut Films, 2005. Film.
  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Dir. Peter Jackson. New Line Cinema, 2013. Film.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Dir. Peter Jackson. WingNut Films/The Saul Zaentz Company, 2001. Film.
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