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Cleopatra (1963)


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#1 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 15 June 2013 - 11:58 AM

I just watched the new blu-ray of this movie, shot in 65mm Todd-AO by Leon Shamroy.  Shamroy has always interested me because of his use of colored lighting, which was sort of a signature style of his, particularly in the days of 3-strip Technicolor.  Most of "Cleopatra" is lit with a minimal use of colored lighting other than for the backgrounds -- often using blue gel for moonlighting, but keeping that blue very pale and subtle on close-ups.  You can see an example of the more typical night interior lighting here:

 

cleopatra1.jpg

 

But there are two scenes at night in the tomb of Cleopatra near the end of the movie that have always stood out for me in terms of the expressive use of color, in particular the use of cyan lighting on gold walls. The first one is between Cleopatra and Mark Antony, the second has Octavius confronting Cleopatra in the same room.

 

You can see the effect in these frames:

 

cleopatra2.jpg

 

Generally he keeps Elizabeth Taylor in a near white key light:

cleopatra3.jpg

 

But at one point she steps forward into some blue moonlighting used on Richard Burton:

 

cleopatra4.jpg

 

 

Burton's lighting is more dramatic, with the mixed colors visible -- cyan on the pillars, blue on other parts of the room, slightly gold light coming from fire:

cleopatra5.jpg

 


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#2 John Holland

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Posted 15 June 2013 - 01:44 PM

I have the blu-ray of Cleopatra , sorry to admit i did see it in Todd-A0  when first released . blu-ray looks much better than the "Color by Deluxe" print then. I have alway been interested in the way that Shamroy alway used something like a half straw ? on his back lights . I have heard wasnt a very nice man to deal with . His nick name was Leon 'the shit' Shamroy. But he did light a load of great films for Fox. 


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#3 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 16 June 2013 - 06:16 PM



I just watched the new blu-ray of this movie, shot in 65mm Todd-AO by Leon Shamroy.  Shamroy has always interested me because of his use of colored lighting, which was sort of a signature style of his, particularly in the days of 3-strip Technicolor.  Most of "Cleopatra" is lit with a minimal use of colored lighting other than for the backgrounds -- often using blue gel for moonlighting, but keeping that blue very pale and subtle on close-ups.  You can see an example of the more typical night interior lighting here:

 

cleopatra1.jpg

 

But there are two scenes at night in the tomb of Cleopatra near the end of the movie that have always stood out for me in terms of the expressive use of color, in particular the use of cyan lighting on gold walls. The first one is between Cleopatra and Mark Antony, the second has Octavius confronting Cleopatra in the same room.

 

You can see the effect in these frames:

 

cleopatra2.jpg

 

Generally he keeps Elizabeth Taylor in a near white key light:

cleopatra3.jpg

 

But at one point she steps forward into some blue moonlighting used on Richard Burton:

 

cleopatra4.jpg

 

 

Burton's lighting is more dramatic, with the mixed colors visible -- cyan on the pillars, blue on other parts of the room, slightly gold light coming from fire:

cleopatra5.jpg

 

This stuff is gorgeous. I'm also, on the other end of the scale, a huge fan of Mario Bava.s use of colored in his film. I'm specifically thinking of Planet of the Vampires:

 

tns2_zpsf21e456d.jpg

 

PlanetofVampires3_zps43dccb51.png

 

PlanetofVampires2_zps306a365b.png

 

tns1_zps132f7665.jpg

 

017-LivingDead_zpsfc986762.png

 

It is a beautiful use of light. If the story had been a little better it could have been iconic. Even as is, if you've ever seen it. you will never forget it.


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