Roger Deakins Talks Unbroken

Roger Deakins, the 11-time Oscar nominee and the guru of naturalism, provides his most beautiful work for Angelina Jolie’s powerful Unbroken, the biopic about Olympic runner turned war hero Louis Zamperini (Jack O’Connell).

Utilizing Oswald Morris’ work on Sidney Lumet’s 1965 The Hill as a searing benchmark for World War II melodrama, Deakins achieves a classical look, packing the frame with intensity. From the ethereal opening of Zamp’s B24 ascending the clouds to the bleached out claustrophobia of surviving 47 days in a raft in the Pacific, to the agonies of enduring POW torture porn in the Omori and Naoetsu camps, Deakins creates a masterful dance of light and dark that serves as the primary metaphor of miraculous survival and spiritual transcendence. The contrast between the two camps, for instance, couldn’t be more visually striking: the wooden Omori has a warm, dustiness while Naoetsu is draped in black coal and snow.

“I liked doing hand-held work, which I did a lot of with Sam Mendes in the war film, Jarhead, but the script, as I saw it, was not that kind of movie,” Deakins suggests. “We wanted the images to speak for themselves, in a way. You’re not trying to enliven the action with the camera. It’s what’s actually in the frame.”

The original script opens with the voiceover of the pastor, and as the sun rises, the B24s come out of the darkness. “Well, that changed in the edit, but that was the original intent of the whole piece where you start with this idea of light and dark.I always like playing with light and using a lot of silhouettes and stuff and I kinda think that’s what I do anyway. It’s definitely there but you don’t want to make it too heavy-handed.”

Read the rest at TOH/Indiewire.

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

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