cerului asked if I would be taking a cinematic look episode 10.11, There's No Place Like Home. I hadn't planned to but I took another look and there was a little something that stood out.
This episode was directed by Phil Sgriccia. He's a solid director (and has directed A LOT of Supernatural episodes) and always gives us tightly directed episodes with interesting shot choices (think of Nightshifter, Jus in Belo, Time After Time etc). This episode is no exception. He utilised camera angles to great effect in this episode.
I love that this episode started and ended with these fabulous low angle shots of Dean.
In the beginning he is seen holding a blade and shaking. The camera starts low and slowly zooms up to Dean's face. A low angle gives the subject (Dean in this case) a certain level of power - tall and looming. It works well for Dean because we know there's strength in MoC!Dean, but with Jensen's performance he subverts that power and gives it a level of vulnerability. The lovely contradiction that is MoC!Dean.
At the end of the episode the same low angle is used, only this time his hand is steady - but Dean's thinking process is the same. Can I control this? From this angle it almost looks like he's about to topple over.
(The thing I love most about low angle shots is you get to see the ceiling! /geek)
This is a fantastic high angle shot. This makes the subjects seem small and threatened. It also gives us the feeling that "someone/something" is watching them.
Compare this to a shot when Sam and Dean entered the room. It's low angle and makes them seem more powerful and dangerous (and ya know, crotch shot. What can one say...).
This is a lovely overhead shot. It gives us a good look at everything on the table (that fabulous lamp!). It's like an establishing shot (giving us an overview of the scene), that then cuts into close ups later on. I often think this kind of shot gives the viewer the power - we are looking down on the action. We have the bird's eye view.
Another low angle shot. It revels the gun and adds an element of tension (as we're not sure what the gun is going to be used for). The character is given a moment of power at this point.
During the episode there are a number of subtle shots that emphasis the status of the character. Good!Charlie is often shot from above to make her seem smaller and more vulnerable. Dark!Charlie is often shot in close up, with a slight low angle - giving her more power. Moc!Dean if often shot in the foreground (when being "strong") or in the background (to show his weakness). (And generally, I think Sam/Jared is often shot to "level" out his towering height).
I had to include the following two shots because of the way they both utilise reflections. And they're gorgeous.
The dappled light reflecting on the Impala's windscreen creates a soft image over Sam. There's a lot of effort to "soften" Sam in this episode I think. Perhaps to emphasis his quiet strength. Or perhaps it works as a counterpoint to Dean. Dean's currently full of turmoil and aggression. Sam is also full of turmoil but currently lacking that aggression. I'm not really sure. But I do adore this shot. :)
Dean seeing his reflection in the mirror has been used a number of times since he obtained the MoC. It seems to be mostly used as a way of grounding Dean. Seeing himself as a reminder of who he is. What makes this shot particularly powerful is how small Dean is in it. He's surrounded by alcohol (a symbol of the very thing he's fighting). It's crowding him out - he feels he's losing the battle.
In fact, mirrors have been used throughout the series as a way of acknowledging that's there's something beneath the surface. This is a great parallel:
Another parallel I really like is this one. I have no idea if this is deliberate, but as both characters are fighting the "demons" within, I think we can make that connection. I'd like to think the choice of colours in this shot (also, both wearing similar jackets) is a conscious choice too. Even if it's a happy coincidence, it's still pretty cool. :)
No matter what I think of the story lines or the way it's unfolding, I am always grateful that the Show has thoughtful directors who give us great shots. :))