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Elizabeth: The Golden Age


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#1 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 17 October 2007 - 12:24 AM

Life isn't fair -- Remi Adefarasin gets to shoot two Queen Elizabeth movies in his lifetime (so far) whereas I have yet to get to shoot the life of a minor duke or baron in some small country...

This film is drop-dead gorgeous, and incredibly varied in lighting and tone, color and contrast. Rich. Sharp, diffused, it runs through different moods and looks, but always suiting the scene. Michael Powell and Jack Cardiff would have loved the look of this movie.

It's the sort of work I'd love to do someday; dark and shadowy scenes in rooms lit by candles and moonlight, flowing fabrics, shiny armor, dark wooden furniture, etc.

One of the last scenes has an interesting daytime look -- large high windows in a manor house room, the windows in the back-half of the room are blue-ish, but the foreground ones are gelled warm, so Elizabeth is softly backlit blue but her face has this warm glow on it, and then that light eventually builds and becomes a blinding shaft of sunlight.
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#2 Richard Boddington

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Posted 17 October 2007 - 07:47 AM

"Life isn't fair -- Remi Adefarasin gets to shoot two Queen Elizabeth movies in his lifetime (so far) whereas I have yet to get to shoot the life of a minor duke or baron in some small country..."


That's what happens when you run the monarchy out of your country David :D

On the plus side I am looking for a DOP to shoot my epic film about the great Canadian Prime Minister, John Turner. It's called, "John: The Golden Age."

Every one here has heard of John Turner, right?

Any way I plan to see Elizabeth. As usual the critics keep saying things like, "the costumes and production values over whelm the story......." blah blah blah.

R,
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#3 Hal Smith

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Posted 17 October 2007 - 08:31 AM

........... As usual the critics keep saying things like, "the costumes and production values over whelm the story......." blah blah blah.
R,

And the same jerks would be saying something like "Does not reflect the glory of the Elizabethan era" if the production's Art Direction, costumes, etc. were stripped down.
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#4 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 17 October 2007 - 05:15 PM

Look forward to seeing it!

I still haven't seen "Elizabeth" :(

I was out of the country and didn't see any movies for a couple years, when the first "Elizabeth" was in theatres...and I've been forever playing catchup with those two years I missed out on.

It's next on my Netflix :)
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#5 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 18 October 2007 - 04:16 AM

I still haven't seen "Elizabeth" :(

It's really quite striking, very dark and moody at times, and sometimes very light and color saturated. It captures a sense of real danger and textural griminess which I think is kind of unique for a period film.

David, perhaps you'll get to shoot a parody of "Elizabeth" with the ex-Monty Python folk. They don't seem to mind making moody-looking period comedies. :)
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#6 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 10 November 2007 - 02:35 PM

Just saw The Golden Age last night. Quite gorgeous, I must say. Calls back to the old epic Technicolor films with the giant halls and steaking beams of daylight, even more than the first Elizabeth film.

I think the costumes might have been a bit much this time, but the performances made up for it.
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#7 K Borowski

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Posted 10 November 2007 - 05:41 PM

Forgive my ignorance, but I have heard that this is, and is not, a sequel to "Elizabeth" from the '90s. I would assume that the film was shot on the EXR stocks. If this is a sequel, does it enjoy the same sort of cinematographic magesty found in the first one, with the epic static long shots and beautiful contrast? How did they do in terms of matching this later work to the former with different stocks, more advanced color correction options? Personally, unless the story really changes to suit a change in style, I tend to dislike large departures in style in sequel films, especially if I enjoy the style of the original only to see it replaced by a style that is completely different in the follow-up film. That being said, I'll be thrilled to see a film that matches the look of its predecessor.

~KB
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#8 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 10 November 2007 - 05:45 PM

Yeeeeah, Cate Blanchett as Elizabeth, directed by Kapur and shot by Remi...it's a sequel.

Not sure what film stock was used, but it is very much a similar look and style to the first film. If you loved the cinematography of that one, then you'll love "The Golden Age" as well.
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#9 K Borowski

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Posted 10 November 2007 - 06:51 PM

Thanks for the quick reply, Jonathan.
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#10 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 12 November 2007 - 07:47 PM

I just saw it.

I think it had some gorgeous lighting in it, rich and contrasty. Nice mix between warm and cold sources and a thruthful rendition of that period - it never felt lit artificially which is a testament to Remi's work. The darker dusk/night stuff was also lit and handled very nicely.

However, I have some reservations in some areas and I hope Mr. Adefarasin will take this in the right, inquisitive way. To me it felt like many of the shots that were supposed to be statics were done from a steadicam in order to save time. With the result that they're neither steady or unsteady, just a bit snaky and drifty. Was this intentional?

There's also a sequence where Sir Walter and Elizabeth ride their horses that feel weirdly bumpy and stabilized at the same time - was this done on a stab head but on very uneven terrain from a camera car? Crane?

There are also some very strange choices in the editing, I must say. There's a sequence where Sir Francis talks to his brother William after he's been imprisoned in the dungeon and there's a perfectly fine two shot from one side showing both their faces and telling the story. But it constantly cuts to a wide master over-the-shoulder of Sir Francis where William is all but obscured. Now obscure is fine, but this shot just feels like a throwaway and an outtake. It's probably a get-out-of-jail-card to cut around dialogue that didn't work, but it just seemed like an odd choice. What was the reasoning behind this?

There also seemed to be quite a bit of compositions that were somewhere in between an American mid and a true wide, and I seem to feel ankles were chopped off and floor/ground was being avoided in many shots. Was this due to locations and other factors?

To compound the matter further, the cinema that showed the film had a slightly misaligned gate, so the whole picture was constantly framed a little bit too much to the right. Each reel aslo had massive color shifts between them - most of them with a greenish tint but also a really fleshy and unflattering red tint in the second to last roll, which was a shame. The film deserved a better print than this with such nice lighting in it.
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#11 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 13 November 2007 - 07:33 PM

There's also a sequence where Sir Walter and Elizabeth ride their horses that feel weirdly bumpy and stabilized at the same time - was this done on a stab head but on very uneven terrain from a camera car? Crane?


Oh yeah! I forgot to mention that scene. It had a REALLY interesting look to it. Almost as if the operator was on a crane holding a steadicam, perhaps?
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#12 Tom Lowe

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Posted 13 November 2007 - 08:07 PM

However, I have some reservations in some areas and I hope Mr. Adefarasin will take this in the right, inquisitive way. To me it felt like many of the shots that were supposed to be statics were done from a steadicam in order to save time. With the result that they're neither steady or unsteady, just a bit snaky and drifty. Was this intentional?


This techinique is used often in films these days. And of course it was intentional in a film this large.

After reading David's thoughts, I am psyched to see this. I almost took my dad to see it this weekend.
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#13 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 14 November 2007 - 04:41 AM

This techinique is used often in films these days. And of course it was intentional in a film this large.


Bad choice of words. What I meant was what was the reasoning behind this?
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#14 Remi Adefarasin

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Posted 14 November 2007 - 07:08 AM

Dear Adam,

Replying to your points.

We only had Steadicam on the days we booked it. Never used it to save time. I was constantly trying to break down the image & used nets, lighting & camera movement to this effect. Hard to have an invisible camera on a Kapur film.

The horse ride was done with two cameras on remote heads at the same time for continuity. The track was very bumpy & the stabilization ironed out the bumps but that?s why it looks unusual.

The dungeon scene with Walsingham?s brother was the director?s decision to only see one eye. The intended tension got broken when we cut to a clear shot & then back to the deliberately obscured one.

Locations didn?t cause us to chop off ankles. Some of the frames allowed more headroom to give a sense of immortality.

I?m sorry that you saw a bad set or prints. Spanish scenes were deliberately graded yellow/green.

The whole crew worked very hard on this film and I?m extremely grateful for their effort.

Remi
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#15 K Borowski

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Posted 14 November 2007 - 08:43 AM

Wow, I had no idea the DoP for the Elizabeth films is a member of this board. Thank you so much for posting here!

Mr. Adefarasin, in shooting this sequel, did you try to match the look of the original in your lighting, filtration, diffusion, or have you changed your look at all for this one? Has working with a different set of film stocks posed any challenges in maintaining the look of the EXR stocks?

Thanks

~KB
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#16 John Holland

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Posted 14 November 2007 - 11:58 AM

Karl Remi has posted on here a lot of times should keep your eyes open, from boring old fart who still loves 5254.
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#17 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 14 November 2007 - 12:04 PM

My own impression is that the sequel uses net diffusion more than the original did, probably because the whole "Golden Age" notion regarding Elizabeth at the height of her reign. The original was a "harder" movie. At least, that's my impression. Both have similar lighting approaches - dark & moody, almost German Expresssionism at times, romantic at other times, realistic at other times.
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#18 Remi Adefarasin

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Posted 14 November 2007 - 07:25 PM

David is right once again. I didn't try to match Elizabeth but to follow the story.

Karl,

If you film a queen in a palace it doesn't matter how you light it or frame it, it will always look the same. I did get very expressionistic with some scenes but they hit the floor.

Elizabeth was a grittier look & older stocks helped that. I love most newer stocks.

I'm presently in Australia shooting The Pacific which is a companion to Band of Brothers. Very different story, different photographic approach but hey, it looks like guys in khaki shooting each other again.
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#19 Arni Heimir

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Posted 14 November 2007 - 08:16 PM

My favorite shot was the underwatershot were the white horse is swimming its way thru burning debris. I was absolutely riveted by the production values of the film. Remi A. deserves much praise for his contribution to the film.
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#20 Tom Lowe

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Posted 09 February 2008 - 08:21 PM

Gorgeous, Gorgeous, Gorgeous!!

This film is beautifully shot and lit. I'm very surprised it did not get more attention at the awards this year. Parts of this reminded me of The Fountain, but even better, because it wasn't just a few flashbacks to Spain, it was a whole movie in that period, but with the beauty of the shots sustained throughout the entire picture. I really appreciated the choice of camera angles, especially the stuff inside of those cathedrals and castles. Some of the shots looked like they were perched hundreds of feet above the actors on the ceiling of the structures... very impressive.

This was one of my favorite compositions...

Posted Image

Mr. Adefarasin, my congratulations to you on such an achievement. This film boasts some of the best cinematography I have seen in many years.

Edited by Tom Lowe, 09 February 2008 - 08:22 PM.

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