Jump to content


Photo

GRAPES OF WRATH


  • Please log in to reply
15 replies to this topic

#1 Daniel Porto

Daniel Porto
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 201 posts
  • Student

Posted 03 September 2008 - 04:32 AM

Went to see a screening of this film film last sunday, amazing.

I love that contrasts in light and shade in his lighting. The camera moves for this movie were way ahead for its time also.

Elaborate.......
  • 0

#2 Ira Ratner

Ira Ratner
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 558 posts
  • Other
  • Coral Springs, Florida

Posted 03 September 2008 - 05:53 PM

Daniel, you're a young pup, huh? And you're talking about the original, correct? With Henry Fonda?

Well, I can proudly say that I'm totally unqualified to comment on the cinematic details of the film, but I CAN say this:

A great story, great acting, great directing, the TRUE human condition--without any fancy technical stuff and special effects--is what makes a great film. And while the technical details of the shooting impressed you, those techniques were pretty common for the time. I don't think anything was that out of the ordinary, and everyone pretty much used the same film back then.

You just have to look at the recent success of the pretty simple and basic "Juno" to demonstrate that those basics haven't changed in all of these years.

So all you have to do is to find yourself another John Steinbeck for your story and you're in business.

----------------------------------------------------------

A big P.S.:

Wanna see another masterpiece? If you can find it, get a hold of "The Good Earth," written by Pearl Buck and set in China, and starring Paul Muni. There's even a scene where millions of locusts descend on the farm, and man--it looked like every one of them bugs was real and not some special effect. And we're talking the THIRTIES here as well!

There are dozens of these old masterpieces that make today's blockbusters look like total crap.

Edited by Ira Ratner, 03 September 2008 - 05:56 PM.

  • 0

#3 Satsuki Murashige

Satsuki Murashige
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1283 posts
  • 1st Assistant Camera
  • San Francisco, CA

Posted 04 September 2008 - 01:06 AM

One of my favorite films, just in general and for cinematography (I'm a John Ford nut). Toland's work shows his progression of the deep-focus style he became famous for after "Citizen Kane" two years later. Also check out another Ford/Toland collaboration "The Long Voyage Home" made the previous year. I'm jealous that you got to see "Grapes of Wrath" on the big screen, I've only seen it on video. :(

And while the technical details of the shooting impressed you, those techniques were pretty common for the time. I don't think anything was that out of the ordinary, and everyone pretty much used the same film back then.

I don't think this is true - look at the candlelit scene where Tom and Casey discover Muley hiding out at the old Joad place. I've looked at it a number of times trying to figure out how it was done. It's extremely naturalistic and still stands up today as one of the best single-source candle-lit scenes ever IMO. It looks like they might have had a trick candle with a fixture built into the candle's shaft, it's hard to tell. But if you look at the shadows move as Tom shifts the candle in his hand, the source is definitely coming from the candle. I wonder if Toland played around with pushing the stock as he did a few years later on "Citizen Kane" - I'd love to hear details if anyone's got 'em.
  • 0

#4 Ira Ratner

Ira Ratner
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 558 posts
  • Other
  • Coral Springs, Florida

Posted 04 September 2008 - 05:28 AM

Boy--that's a good point. Seeing it on film, full-screen. I guess now I have to watch it again, since I'm getting into 16 as a hobby.

I always thought that an old-fashioned theater showing the good old stuff--totally maxed to the 9s like it was the 30s--would do okay in the right neighborhood. But maybe not because of economics and today's sensibilities. (I mean, there's not a single alien in "Grapes of Wrath.")

I love the scene change in that movie when they finally settle into the nice "camp," the morning after they arrive. From total desperation and fear (darkness and such) to hope and happiness (bright and cherry), with children running and playing and their kids having that adventure with the flush toilet.

Pretty powerful political statement for its time (and now too). That sometimes, people need a hand in life and it's no crime.
  • 0

#5 John Allen

John Allen
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 235 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Iowa

Posted 04 September 2008 - 12:47 PM

YES!!!! I love that film. It's one of my favorites of Tolands.

It's funny cause I'm actually only 17 years old, but I am a huge classic film buff.
I found the story very good. But, yes since I am a DP, so then naturally I look at a film visually, and I found the cinematography very refreshing, in a dirty way. I love the fact that Toland shot the film with a documentary point of view. He was very much trying to make it look just like the pictures taken during the depression, and I think he pulled it off superbly.

One of my favorite scenes is when Henry Fonda is in and old house and he's holding a lit candle. It's a very cool scene because of the fact that the only lighting he used for it was that one lit candle. I could hardly believe it because of how slow the film they used back then. I think the highest ASA they would have back then would probably be 100. I don't think they had anything more then that, but correct me if I'm wrong. Anyway, I thoroughly enjoy watching that movie and would love to see that and may old films on a big screen. Btw, great topic choice!
  • 0

#6 Daniel Porto

Daniel Porto
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 201 posts
  • Student

Posted 04 September 2008 - 06:32 PM

THANK-YOU ALL FOR YOR COMMENTS!!!

It was a once in a lifetime experience to watch this magnificent movie in the cinema and I hope you all get the chance too!
As for the camera work comment about it not being early for its time, I strongly disagree. You can't tell me that a medium-paced zoom in to enhance the emotional effect of what the character is saying was normal for the time. I thought that around this time they we just starting to move the camera around again (those huge blimps and covers they had so they could record sound restricted the movement of the camera).

Regardless the cinematography was ahead of its time. Some tell it was suicide to have a section of someone's face in total darkness like that. A style which Toland took to the absolute extreme in Citizen Kane.

I would love to see an ORIGINAL projection of Citizen Kane. I say original because I am told that in this version and before all the digital enhancements, that when you saw a shadow on screen the face was meant to be black and you see NOTHING!!! On the DVD release version you can now see some detail and its a shame because of effect that the digital enhancements had on the print.
  • 0

#7 Ira Ratner

Ira Ratner
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 558 posts
  • Other
  • Coral Springs, Florida

Posted 04 September 2008 - 07:59 PM

The problem with analyzing this stuff is that everyone involved in the production is dead. And you can only believe 10% of what any of the grandkids say about it is because, well, they weren't there, but they enjoy the fame talking about it.

Creating revisionist history is nothing new, and if you think Jane Fonda is qualified to comment on what happened on any of her dad's films, I have to strongly disagree.

Finally, just because you haven't seen a lighting technique like this elsewhere before doesn't mean it wasn't used elsewhere. In fact, ALL of the greats copy other's techniques. That's what makes them great:

They're not necessarily innovative, but they know what to use what when.

Grapes of Wrath was a great film that survived the passage of time, but everyone thought so many other movies were thought of as crap, no commercial value, and they threw the existing prints in the garbage.

But to get back to my original point which relates to this one:

I can guarantee you that no one who watched the above mentioned scene back then thought, "Great lighting! What did that guy use for that!?"

Story and acting first.
  • 0

#8 John Allen

John Allen
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 235 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Iowa

Posted 04 September 2008 - 08:59 PM

THANK-YOU ALL FOR YOR COMMENTS!!!

It was a once in a lifetime experience to watch this magnificent movie in the cinema and I hope you all get the chance too!
As for the camera work comment about it not being early for its time, I strongly disagree. You can't tell me that a medium-paced zoom in to enhance the emotional effect of what the character is saying was normal for the time. I thought that around this time they we just starting to move the camera around again (those huge blimps and covers they had so they could record sound restricted the movement of the camera).



I agree. I have seen camera movement all the way back to the early 30's. And it was made 1940 so that would mean that they had been moving cameras for about 5-10 years.
  • 0

#9 Leo Anthony Vale

Leo Anthony Vale
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1994 posts
  • Other
  • Pittsburgh PA

Posted 06 September 2008 - 12:36 PM

As for the camera work comment about it not being early for its time, I strongly disagree. You can't tell me that a medium-paced zoom in to enhance the emotional effect of what the character is saying was normal for the time. I thought that around this time they we just starting to move the camera around again (those huge blimps and covers they had so they could record sound restricted the movement of the camera).

Regardless the cinematography was ahead of its time. Some tell it was suicide to have a section of someone's face in total darkness like that. A style which Toland took to the absolute extreme in Citizen Kane.


Dolly ins were being done in 'The Bride of Frankenstein' and on Technicolor cameras..
By the time 'The Grapes of Wrath' was made Fox had its own self blimped cameras.
Posted Image

I suppose this was before the time when Joan Crawford would have big black shadows falling across her face to hide the wrinkles, but 'Gone With the Wind' had scenes done in sihlouette.
  • 0

#10 D. Goulder

D. Goulder
  • Sustaining Members
  • 1259 posts
  • Cinematographer

Posted 06 September 2008 - 03:08 PM

I would love to see an ORIGINAL projection of Citizen Kane. I say original because I am told that in this version and before all the digital enhancements, that when you saw a shadow on screen the face was meant to be black and you see NOTHING!!! On the DVD release version you can now see some detail and its a shame because of effect that the digital enhancements had on the print.

One can assume that the detail you're seeing was in fact part of the original negative. Unless it's a case of "digital enhancement abuse" the intent was more than likely an attempt to recreate the print as close as possible to its original look. Of course, only Welles and Toland would be qualified to judge what degree of success was achieved.
  • 0

#11 David Mullen ASC

David Mullen ASC
  • Sustaining Members
  • 15754 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 06 September 2008 - 05:19 PM

While even today, having an actor's face be in silhouette is rather daring... this lighting technique predates cinema, as does other chiaroscuro effects, and started appearing in movies by the late 1910's, early 1920's.

Toland was unique more in the degree to which he pushed these Expressionistic lighting effects in studio pictures for dramatic stories, while simultaneously also pushing the occasional naturalistic trick like have a face look like it was lit with a single candle ("Grapes of Wrath") or by the light of a match ("Long Voyage Home").

He was aided by the fact of his unique contract with Goldwyn Studios -- while most of the famous cameramen were under the contract of the major studios like MGM, Warners, etc. and worked in the "house style" and on whatever projects were handed to them, Toland was one of the highest paid cinematographers in Hollywood under a unique contract to Goldwyn Studios that allowed him to pick and choose his projects and experiment and test in his free time inbetween.

One of my favorite stories about Toland is when he shot "Ball of Fire" for Hawks. They wanted Barbara Stanwyk's face to be in the dark in the hotel room scene where Gary Cooper stumbles in to confess his love for her while thinking he is talking to someone else. Her face was dark but you could see her eyes clearly. Rather than use a traditional strip of light across the eyes (though they did a little of that too to get the effect) Toland called the make-up department that morning and asked that Stanwyk's face be painted black. Supposedly she picked up the phone and asked "what in hell kinda movie are we making here?"
  • 0

#12 Hal Smith

Hal Smith
  • Sustaining Members
  • 2280 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • OKC area

Posted 06 September 2008 - 08:35 PM



There were also some really incredible special effects men like Linwood Dunn, ASC working in Hollywood with Toland, et.al. Some of the deep focus shots in "Citizen Kane" are actually SFX composites.

From "The ASC Treasury of Visual Effects" (1983) "The Cinemagic of the Optical Printer" article by Linwood Dunn, ASC. Linwood ends his article looking forward to the great possibilities on the horizon using what he calls "The Electronic Optical Printer"....or in other words: The DI.

Attached Images

  • Citizen_Kane.jpg

  • 0

#13 Brian Drysdale

Brian Drysdale
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 3681 posts
  • Cinematographer

Posted 08 September 2008 - 09:42 AM

I agree. I have seen camera movement all the way back to the early 30's. And it was made 1940 so that would mean that they had been moving cameras for about 5-10 years.


Camera movement goes way back to the silent days, it was the need for sound proof booths that tied the camera down for a while.

http://rogerebert.su...404110301/1023/
  • 0

#14 Daniel Porto

Daniel Porto
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 201 posts
  • Student

Posted 08 September 2008 - 10:11 AM

Camera movement goes way back to the silent days, it was the need for sound proof booths that tied the camera down for a while.

http://rogerebert.su...404110301/1023/


It certainly does go back to the silent days however once sound was introduced camera movement wasn't as evident. It slowly crept back into mainstream soon after
  • 0

#15 Daniel Porto

Daniel Porto
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 201 posts
  • Student

Posted 08 September 2008 - 10:16 AM

But to get back to my original point which relates to this one:

I can guarantee you that no one who watched the above mentioned scene back then thought, "Great lighting! What did that guy use for that!?"

Story and acting first.


Couldn't agree with you more. However, the same still applies today and it is only us 'cinematographers' that notice the lighting set-ups. It is considered natural to the audience no matter how fake and un-realistic the lighting set up may be (in most cases).
  • 0

#16 Chris Keth

Chris Keth
  • Sustaining Members
  • 4427 posts
  • 1st Assistant Camera
  • Los Angeles

Posted 15 October 2008 - 09:06 PM

Camera movement goes way back to the silent days, it was the need for sound proof booths that tied the camera down for a while.

http://rogerebert.su...404110301/1023/


Brian beat me to it. When sound came in, a lot of people were worried about it destroying cinematic art as they knew it. Now people just talked into a table centerpiece front of a static camera.;) Sound production limited a lot of the things that could and were being done at the time. It pretty much kicked camera movement of any kind back a decade.
  • 0






rebotnix Technologies

Robert Starling

The Slider

Ritter Battery

CineTape

Glidecam

CineLab

Paralinx LLC

K5600 Lighting

Visual Products

Lemo Connectors

Cool Lights

Cadrage Directors Viewfinder

Pro 8mm

Abel Cine

Zylight

Aerial Filmworks

System Associates

Cinelicious

CineTape

Abel Cine

Cool Lights

rebotnix Technologies

Visual Products

Zylight

CineLab

Lemo Connectors

Cinelicious

K5600 Lighting

Cadrage Directors Viewfinder

Pro 8mm

The Slider

System Associates

Aerial Filmworks

Ritter Battery

Glidecam

Paralinx LLC

Robert Starling