How NYFCC Winner Lachman Shot Carol

Carol is definitely a far cry from Todd Haynes’ Douglas Sirk-inspired Far From Heaven. It’s a completely different aesthetic, of course: the difference between expressionism and naturalism, the difference between Hollywood artifice and more delicate photography. Which is why Haynes’ long-time DP Ed Lachman, who last week won Best Cinematography from the New York Film Critics Circle, chose to shoot the gorgeous Patricia Highsmith-adapted love story starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara on Super 16 film.

I wanted to reference the visual language of the time, not Hollywood movies, but the use of color by photojournalists,” explained Lachman. “And many of those photographers were women that experimented with color photography: Ruth Orkin, Esther Bubley, Vivian Maier, Helen Levitt.

“Each time period has different eyes to what they consider the color palette, when you look at the way people dress or the paint that they use for their homes or the furniture. So we thought that film structure and using color negative would capture the feeling of that world. And there’s a grayness to the color, which fit the story.

“What I also liked about it was that Rooney’s character is a budding photographer. Today, the digital world is so smooth and clean; we wanted a soft, soiled, indeterminate feeling in the world that the characters found themselves in. At that time, we weren’t in the high-gloss world of the later ’50s where Douglas Sirk used beauty as a form of repression. But we were between the War and Eisenhower: an uncertain, unstable time in America. These are subtleties that you play with. The colors lent themselves to magenta and green, secondary colors, not primary.”

“When you shoot 35mm film and you go through a DI, to me, it gets closer to the digital look,” Lachman continued. “So by shooting in Super 16 and going through the DI and projecting it at digital format, even if it improves the image in sharpness, it still maintains the feeling of film because you started with a lower resolution of the film. For certain stories, it’s a perfect marriage.”

Read the rest at TOH/Indiewire.

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

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