Anatomy of a Scene: ‘Hang Me’ from Llewyn Davis

The opening of Inside Llewyn Davis is a remarkable achievement: It not only sets the melancholy mood of Greenwich Village in ’61 with the eponymous singer (Oscar Isaac) performing “Hang Me, Oh Hang Me” at the iconic Gaslight, but it also sets us up for a confusing circular odyssey. I got the lowdown on the Coen brothers’ bizarre tale about folk music with the Oscar nominated cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel and sound mixer Skip Lievsay (also nominated for Gravity).

While Delbonnel exquisitely captures the coldness, sadness and loneliness of Davis’ struggles by using a lack of light, the opening is very different: striking and hypnotic through a haze of pain and wonderment. It’s this sort of ambiguity that inspires the French cinematographer, who most recently shot Tim Burton’s upcoming Oscar hopeful, Big Eyes.

“When I worked with Joel and Ethan we wanted the opening to be the opposite of everything afterwards,” Delbonnel suggests. “It was more sketchy, more evocative than the rest of the movie. I suggested that there was something about the two faces of Llewyn Davis: light and shadow. And he was a person with two minds — one is a real human being and the other is a folk singer totally immersed in the music. And they agreed with me.”

Read the rest at TOH/Indiewire.

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Below the Line, Cinematography, Clips, Movies, Music, Oscar, Sound, Tech

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