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curled around these images
just enough to make us dangerous
10.11 A closer look... 
3rd-Feb-2015 09:20 pm
Dean & vid camera
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:

Mirror-Cracked-Dean Mirror-cracked-Sam-2

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. :)

10.11 Dean knife




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. :))
3rd-Feb-2015 01:45 pm (UTC)
I really love your cinematic analyses :)))
3rd-Feb-2015 01:50 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I love doing them. I find I have a renewed appreciation for an episode when I take closer look at what the director is doing. :)
3rd-Feb-2015 10:56 pm (UTC)
And I love that you help us to share it :))
(Deleted comment)
3rd-Feb-2015 02:08 pm (UTC)
Good!Charlie was definitely shot differently to dark!Charlie. There was a lot of glowy light in the episode (or softer light). Nothing I could specifically put my finger on, but it was a gentler light than usual. I think the episode you mean in Houses of the Holy. It's another ep where Sam is created as a "softer" character (or rather "thoughtful" rather than full of action). I think this episode was particularly focused on the "power" of each character, so it makes sense that the director would use camera angles to emphasise that. Have a good sleep! I'm about to go too...
3rd-Feb-2015 02:31 pm (UTC)
Really cool analysis. I like all those weird angle shots. I really like that one in the bar mirror especially. With Dean, it's hard to say if he has the shakes because of the MoC or because he hasn't had a drink in a few days. The comparison with the knife and Sam's demon blood addiction in your last couple of shots is awesome.
5th-Feb-2015 01:07 pm (UTC)
Thanks hun. :)

And yes, the shakes are very likely because he hasn't had a drink. And it's interesting that drink seems to somehow intensify the mark. Or perhaps triggers it. I think Dean giving up drink is as hard as resisting the mark. ;)
3rd-Feb-2015 05:01 pm (UTC)
This was fabulously interesting to read - thank you so much for sharing this analysis.
Also - so many pretty pictures!
5th-Feb-2015 01:08 pm (UTC)
Thanks for reading! I'm glad you liked it. :)
3rd-Feb-2015 05:39 pm (UTC)
As always, what a fascinating insight into an aspect of Show that I sometimes take for granted! I love all the screen shots of the camera angles which I did notice on Dean, but I'm not sure if I picked up on Sam and Charlie.

Keep these posts coming Ash, I always look forward to seeing them! (And we got more food - a omelet, not a sandwich, still it still counts as Winchester love for me!)
5th-Feb-2015 01:13 pm (UTC)
Hi! Thanks so much.

And yay, more food! (what do they say about the way to a man's heart….*g*)
3rd-Feb-2015 06:21 pm (UTC)
Great! I love these cool takes. And parallels, love!
5th-Feb-2015 01:14 pm (UTC)

3rd-Feb-2015 07:33 pm (UTC)
While watching, it was the first mirror shot of Dean that caught my eye the most. My first thought was not as much about "something beneath the surface", as rather "he feels broken and unsure if his damage can be fixed". Broken glass can't be glued back with no trace. Also, the world seen in a broken mirror is distorted - the Mark is twisting Dean himself, but also twisting his perception.

I like your analyses. Exactly as you say, there's more to take apart in every episode than the plot only, and that's fun! :) Being a visual maniac myself, I was delighted finding out SPN has a lot to enjoy in this field, when I started to watch. And then I found spnematography and your posts, yay! *g*
5th-Feb-2015 01:17 pm (UTC)
Also, the world seen in a broken mirror is distorted - the Mark is twisting Dean himself, but also twisting his perception.

Oh absolutely. :)

Exactly as you say, there's more to take apart in every episode than the plot only, and that's fun!

As I become more detached from the plot I'm finding the visual a more satisfying way to enjoy (some) episodes. I love it when directors go to that extra trouble with their framing.
3rd-Feb-2015 08:14 pm (UTC)
I really appreciate your doing these. I *notice* things, and I'm aware they are influencing how I perceive a shot, or a scene. But, caught up in the emotion or my reaction to the content of the scene, I often lose track of the visuals that influenced me. So I really love that you call these out, pinpoint them, give them the attention they're due.
5th-Feb-2015 01:17 pm (UTC)
Thanks hun. I'm glad you like them. :)
3rd-Feb-2015 10:36 pm (UTC)
Ash, you have THE best eye for detail in fandom! I love all the little things you pick up on, as (a) that's some cool stuff, and (b) your observations make re-viewing the episodes just that much more fun. Thanks so much for sharing. ♥
5th-Feb-2015 01:18 pm (UTC)
Thanks sweetie! Glad you like them! :D
4th-Feb-2015 08:45 am (UTC)
That comparison between Season 5 Sammy and Season 10 Dean is spot on and the angles the show uses are always appreciated. Thanks for sharing hun :)
5th-Feb-2015 01:18 pm (UTC)
Thanks hun! <33
4th-Feb-2015 10:00 pm (UTC)
This is awesome! I too notice of especially the low-angle shots and the mirrors. That comparison between the Sam and Dean mirror shots is way cool. :D

It just hit me that with the low-angle shots we also get to see the person's face and their reaction to the weapon. It's not just 'ooo, I'm looking at a gun, this is scary and extreme and I'm going to kill someone, ooo' but more like 'I have a gun and see what it is doing to me' which is much more interesting from the character stand point.
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