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Cinematography - 11.06 Our Little World.  
18th-Nov-2015 11:06 pm
Geeking Out
I watched 11.06 again today and it struck me how well the cinematography supports the storytelling. Of course, it SHOULD do that, but in this episode it was particularly striking.

In fact, the cinematography is so beautiful I thought I'd share a few of my favourite moments and chat about the way camera angles are used during the episode.

Direction: John F. Showalter. Cinematography: Serge Ladouceur. Writer: Robert Berens

I confess I am rather a huge fan of low and high angles and I loved this one of Cas in the beginning. It's like something or someone (heaven?) is looking down on him. Mostly though, it makes him look small and vulnerable - enclosed in his "safe" place.


In contrast, this angle is from below and emphasises his anxiety (surrounded by bars) and the extreme low angle creates a sense of threat (falling from a height). It's like something or someone (hell?) is looking up at him.


How fantastic is this shot?! Not only do we see that glorious wall paper from Changing Channels, but I love the way the whole shot is framed. Dean is displaying his power in the foreground of the shot - looming over the demon, and Sam is watching his back in the background. I particularly love the room divider (I swear every room divider in this show has hidden meta). This has a "DD" in it - a nod to Demon Dean maybe? The DD is also surrounded by bars (with pointy edges, like the wall clock). All sorts of awesome.


Brilliant shot of Metaron under the bright cross of the Mission. And in between garbage bins. So much commentary in one single shot.


Lovely overhead shot with the gun spotlit under the street light. It's these little moments that gave the episode extra weight. Look at those glorious shadows!


I loved the way the old asylum was shot - low angle and thus giving it a sense of foreboding. Sam and Dean mere shadows in the foreground.


One of my favourite things about this episode is the way it answered many questions. Like where the hell did Crowley hangout? I rather love that it's inside an insane asylum. This is a great opening shot of the place. Love the mix of colours also.


Agh. So brilliant. Adore this high angle shot - it's the PoV of the building and creates a sense of threat. I can't help thinking about a noose about Dean's (and Sam and even Crowley's) neck.


I've always found it curious how much taller Sam is to, well, everyone and yet he often comes across as smaller. It's something about the way he holds himself and sometimes the way he's framed in a shot. Sam can use his height to emphasis his power and strength (particularly as soulless!Sam) or be taller than everyone else but lower his status by his body language. This is also achieved by him being filmed behind Dean. Here, I think there's an attempt at equal power (I've only included this one because I just like it *g*).


Cas and Metatron.

There was a lovely play on status during the Cas and Metatron scenes. Berens took Cas from hiding in the bunker to literally growing in strength through his confrontation with Metatron.

Here, Cas appears as a somewhat powerful force (he's surrounded by darkness with light on his face):


but then Metatron is filmed with the upper hand - his smirk and demeanour.


As the scene progresses Cas ends up looming over a beaten-up Metatron.


Metatron is on the floor, now looking up at Cas. The ultimate statement in the loss of power.



The way Amara was shot was exquisite (imho). During the opening scene with Crowley the camera slowly swings around to film her at a slight low angle. It was the beginning of her slow rise to power over both Crowley and Dean. In this scene Crowley thinks he has power over her, but the way she is shot suggests something else entirely. She is always framed so beautifully in this episode.


During her scene with Dean we seen him looking down on her, but in such a way that makes him look vulnerable. She looks "up" at Dean, but it gives her power (also shot from a slight low angle).



The closing music sequence is perhaps one of my faves ever in SPN (other than Death's entrance maybe). I love this moment when she looks up. At God maybe?


And speaking of looking up, this shot of Sam after his vision is gorgeous also. He looks up - suggesting he is wondering if it was God you sent him the vision maybe? Or perhaps it just emphasis how small and vulnerable he is.


And of course there's this lovely mirror shot to the one of Dean in hell:


Honestly, there are so many more shots I could include here. Even down to Amara doing her nails to then seeing them on Dean face (all shiny and manicured). :)

Such a great episode. <3
18th-Nov-2015 03:30 pm (UTC)
Absolutely agreed on everything! Brilliant post, lady! As I've said before, I love your eye for detail.

. . . and you know, the "Changing Channels" shot reminds me greatly of '40s noir gangster films. Also the "deep focus" shots throughout Citizen Kane.

(There's another mirror shot, though not nearly as gorgeous as the ones depicted above, but the moment where Sam bangs on the door while Dean is inside with Amara is a direct mirror of a scene from 4.22. At least, that's how I saw it. Would love to hear your opinion . . . :D
19th-Nov-2015 10:51 am (UTC)
Thanks lovely lady!! <33

and you know, the "Changing Channels" shot reminds me greatly of '40s noir gangster films. Also the "deep focus" shots throughout Citizen Kane.

Oh wow, yes! Cool observation. :)

And the link between Sam banging on the door with a "mesmerised" Dean with Dean banging on the door of a "mesmerised" Sam in 4.22 is great. A few have said that Amara is Dean's Ruby and with connections like that it makes it seem like it could be. Amara is certainly going to be someone who Dean will not only not be able to kill, but I suspect will try and protect. I smell another "showdown" on the horizon for the boys.

(and yes re your comment about Nightcrawler. I absolutely loved that film. And I love that Metatron was a nightcrawler. Such perfect meta.
18th-Nov-2015 05:16 pm (UTC)
Love your cinematography posts. You always point out such interesting things in the shots that I know affect how I respond to the scene, but that I'm not usually aware of--that is, until you point out all those interesting things! (Did that sentence make any sense?)

Edited at 2015-11-18 05:16 pm (UTC)
19th-Nov-2015 10:51 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! Hee, and yes it did make sense! :D
18th-Nov-2015 05:51 pm (UTC)
I love these posts of yours--most of the things you note did make an impression, but as they're *supposed* to do, it's subliminal. It enhances or reinforces the moment in the script. I do notice a lot, but I don't often call these images and moments out, and you catch a lot that I don't consiously recognize, too.

I will say that the image of the cage suspended on chains was such a callback I literally jumped in my seat. Also, critics and fans have always praised Jensen for his physical acting skills. I'd say Jared is equally good at letting body language carry much of his performance. He uses posture, stillness, tension, and movement very effectively.
19th-Nov-2015 10:58 am (UTC)
Thank you. I wish I had time to do each episode, but alas. This episode though, required me to FIND the time! :) And I agree that much of the way it's such is subliminal. Subtle hints that help us "feel" a certain way about a scene or a moment.

I'd say Jared is equally good at letting body language carry much of his performance.

Oh absolutely. Jared has really honed his performance of Sam - and has always managed to somehow make him seem small (when he needs to) in such a big body. Those damn puppy eyes help also...
18th-Nov-2015 06:02 pm (UTC)
I love it when you post these posts! This episode was crammed with gorgeous cinematography and set pieces, and I love how your eye for detail picks up on things that I would have overlooked (like the DD on the room divider. I wonder also if this is reflective of Dean this season: one D is elevated, and the other is reversed and has sank down - could he be tempted to fall, or will rise above it?! I guess this could also be linked to the Darkness. I'm possibly looking too much into this, but I find it interesting.)

The lighting is often beautiful on Show, but there were some wonderful examples here.

Such a wonderful post; thought provoking and fascinating. Thank you so much for putting this together and sharing it with us. Take care, :)

18th-Nov-2015 08:22 pm (UTC)
This episode was particularly well thought out in every way, I feel - it was so smooth - the lighting, the sets, the edits, everything meshed together to make it feel effortless.

I admit that high angle with the iron chandelier made me think of crowns rather than nooses but there you go. I loved how Amara touching Dean's face and that lost look he had echoed the way Mary stroked his face in WIASNB...
19th-Nov-2015 12:12 am (UTC)
I particularly appreciated how tied together this episode felt, and I love how your observations show me the subtle techniques used to accomplish this! I really enjoy when you point out the visual cues that I never consciously observe!
19th-Nov-2015 01:21 am (UTC)
I get so excited when you post these visual reviews! (I love all your meta and reviews, but this is always inspiring :)

Somebody else mentioned the 40s gangster noire, and that's the first thing I thought of with the Castiel/Metatron scenes, especially the shot you cap of Cas with the light on his face, darkness all 'round -- so Sam Spade or Philip Marlowe! So Bogart (minus the hat ;-)

The cap of Sam kneeling on the floor in that church-like corridor is so moving. The picture in the stained glass window seems to depict three swordsmen fighting back to back (with their backs to Sam) and with Sam making up the fourth swordsman, or am I seeing this wrong? I think right away of Sam telling Dean back at the end of Season 8 that he doesn't feel pure, that he could never take on the quest of the knights in the stories Dean read of the Knights of the Round Table. Yet here he is, face lit and turned up as if to God, sword in hand.

But the cage! And yes, just like Dean in Hell! So cool!
19th-Nov-2015 06:20 am (UTC)
It is interesting that we get all those shots of bars, like the motel room divider, the shadows in the alley, the bunker railing, the jail cell, the rusted chandelier in Crowley's lair, the door to Amara's room, and then we get the actual Cage. Maybe it's to foreshadow the Cage a bit or to highlight how important it is and how Sam could have a vision at any moment (maybe someone's watching him from the Cage).

I'm not sure, but it also seemed that quite often in Amara's scenes she was the only one in the frame. That gave a nice feeling of her being "alone" (well, against everyone else) and not on the same level as anyone else because she has that much power. It also makes the scenes where she is in the same frame as Dean more powerful.
19th-Nov-2015 10:04 am (UTC)
There was something quite chilling about how they chose to shoot Amara, I think in part it's as you say, an unusual angle for one who wields such power and in doing so our brain's interpretation of the scene was in conflict with our ears and I'm always impressed with directors and all the technicians who go that extra mile - for an 11 year old show, they still pull out all the damn tricks and it's bloody satisfying to know how much they do love what they do. Could be so easy to cruise through this show, but no, they take pride in their craft.

Great post.
19th-Nov-2015 05:05 pm (UTC)
Thank you for this post! Great meta. I loved seeing the Cage after hearing about it for however many years. Great callback to Dean at the end of S3. You're right about the way Amara is shot, very perceptive!

I'm often amused by the way Jared tries to conceal/play down his height. Leaning, crouching, etc. When the Hillywood sisters did their BTS video of the parody, for instance, to recreate Cas leaving the bunker "he" stepped up on a box to appear equal. Also, showing how "Sam" and "Dean" had to basically lie on top of one another to get the "dead Dean" shot in S9 finale. I'm sure that's how they have to do it to get it all on camera!
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