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Kingdom of Heaven


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#1 Ignacio Aguilar

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Posted 07 May 2005 - 09:41 AM

When I first saw the trailer I was dissapointed too see that Ridley Scott and John Mathieson had switched back to Super 35 after having shot Matchstick Men in anamorphic, but Kingdom of Heaven's image quality was superb; very fine grain and great sharpness. The best Super 35 print I've ever seen, much richer that The Interpreter and other anamorphic films with 2K DIs that I've seen in the last months.

Since the film will be covered in the June issue of AC I don't have any technical details yet, but my guess is that they have used a 4K both for scanning & recording back to 35mm.

The cinematography was on par with Gladiator's. Blue hues for the early winter scenes and warmer colors for Jerusalem. High contrast lighting indoors and color temperature mixing between daylight and candles. They used exteme wide-angle lenses to cover some of the real locations and lots of telephotos for the army's shots and fast shutters during the battles. But what suprised me the most was the high ammount of zooms used through the whole film, though most of them were very slow zoom in/out during wide shots or close-ups.

Edited by Ignacio Aguilar, 07 May 2005 - 09:48 AM.

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#2 Max Jacoby

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Posted 07 May 2005 - 01:47 PM

I was quite disapointed by the film. I always go to see Ridley Scott's films despite them always being style over substance, because technically they are top notch. 'Kingdon of Heaven' was a letdown on the story side and unfortunately the look was not up to his usal standards. Part of the problem is that the battle scenes carry very little emotional weight, so even good cinematography can't save them. The battle scenes don't compare to those in 'Gladiator' for instance. Also the film is another proof that Orlando Bloom can't act to save his life.

The DI was done by Technicolor UK and while it looked very sharp and grain free, the skintones were not always as nice. Certainly DIs done by Framestore CFC and the Motion Picture Company have been better.
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#3 Rik Andino

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Posted 08 May 2005 - 02:10 AM

I'm probably in the severe minority, but I'd rather watch Duellists, Alien, Legend or Blade Runner wherer Ridley was doing it the first time around rather than watching Gladiator onwards where the visuals look like cheaper, TV movie-ised rip offs of Scott's earlier body of work.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Actually I agree with you.
I think his latest batch of movies have not been up to par
With his earlier work.

And I agree probably his last great film was Thelma and Louise.

Most of his newer work is more smoke and mirrors than actual substance
I somewhat like Matchstick men...
Hannibal was acceptable but failed miserably when compared to the original.
After watching it for so many times I learn to like Black Hawk Down...but...

When you walk out of the movie theater
You just don't feel like you've come out of watching a great movie...
You feel somewhat satisfied like okay sex...but you won't remember it.


And five years later I'm still vexed as to how or why Gladiator won best picture.


PS I hear his baby bro is doing a remake of the Warriors I wonder how that'll fare.
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#4 Michel Hafner

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Posted 08 May 2005 - 12:52 PM

When I first saw the trailer I was dissapointed too see that Ridley Scott and John Mathieson had switched back to Super 35 after having shot Matchstick Men in anamorphic, but Kingdom of Heaven's image quality was superb; very fine grain and great sharpness. The best Super 35 print I've ever seen, much richer that The Interpreter and other anamorphic films with 2K DIs that I've seen in the last months.

Since the film will be covered in the June issue of AC I don't have any technical details yet, but my guess is that they have used a 4K both for scanning & recording back to 35mm.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

The opening Fox logo had aliasing. But maybe that's a canned logo taken from some library. Or the original CGI had aliasing. Did I ever see this logo aliasing free? :unsure:
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#5 Michael Most

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Posted 08 May 2005 - 02:02 PM

Given that MPC did the visual effects, why did Technicolor UK get the DI contract? Were they booked up? I've noticed MPC are really churning out the DIs these days.


MPC **IS** Technicolor. The Technicolor Creative Services group of Thomson bought MPC a number of months ago.
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#6 Ignacio Aguilar

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Posted 08 May 2005 - 04:34 PM

And that probably dictated the disappointing move back to super35.


Yes, and it is sad cause Ridley has been using anamorphic zooms since Alien. I've have always wondered why some filmakers could use those zooms back in the 70's with 100 ASA stocks and know the f/4.5 & 500 ASA stock combination seems "too slow" for them.

I will have to check this one out based on your comments Ignacio, but until you posted I had no desire to see this movie.


Tim, I'm anxious to read your comments ;)

I wish High Johnson had stuck around for Ridley because his lensing of GI Jane and White Squall were actually taking Scott somewhere else, progressing from Adrian Biddle's refreshingly rugged (yet mastefully slick) lensing of Thelma and Louise and making something subtler to emphasise character and story as oppose to visuals.


Now that you mention it, I forgot Johnson did the second unit directing & cinematography on this one.

I've read some people complaining about the picture being too dark. Maybe I've been watching too many movies shot by Gordon Willis lately, by I found "KOH"'s image OK on that level.

Edited by Ignacio Aguilar, 08 May 2005 - 04:37 PM.

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#7 Christian Appelt

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Posted 09 May 2005 - 06:36 PM

The opening Fox logo had aliasing. But maybe that's a canned logo taken from some library. Or the original CGI had aliasing. Did I ever see this logo aliasing free? unsure.gif


I never saw it without the aliasing. Looks cheap, especially when they had to film-out it only once... :(
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#8 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 09 May 2005 - 11:36 PM

Personally I think that Scott's movies are most similar than different visually, from the first to the last. His editing, however, has gotten faster in keeping with trends. With his mastery at creating amazing vistas and master shots, I just wish he'd HOLD on them a few frames longer!

As for zooms, he's ALWAYS liked them, even in "The Duellists." It's one reason for finally shifting to more usage of the Super-35 format; with his penchant for low-level natural lighting effects, the slowness of anamorphic zooms has always been annoying to him. Combine that with needing a lot of cameras for these action epics, then Super-35 is simply more practical.

It IS strange that the anamorphic format is becoming more used for intimate single-camera dramas, even for indie films, and less for Hollywood blockbusters.

I liked KOH overall. Too many close-ups and zooming shots for my tastes though.

But it's interesting to me that despite being labelled as a stylist (which he is), Scott is also such a realist when it comes to lighting. Often characters move through REALLY dark spaces into really bright spaces, with the rooms being lit only by the logical source like a window. And outdoors, actors -- even big ones -- are shot under all sorts of weather conditions and times of day without any supplemental lighting or fill, unless necessary for matching purposes (and even then, I think Scott would rather shoot in mismatching available light outdoors than try and spend the time to light the shot.)

I also still prefer Ridley's movies in general to Tony's. Stylistically, I think Tony has mastered all the same tricks and a few new ones, but he's never seemed as interested as Ridley Scott in a cinema containing some real ideas behind all the commercial elements.

As for the D.I., I think we all should be honest and say that D.I.'s for big-budget movies have improved tremendously in that last few years. At least we now get 4K scans of the negative, even though downrezzed to 2K, than more-or-less "HD" scans using a Spirit Datacine. Artfiacts are down and "invisibility" is up. I only wish the process were still closer to the look of a contact-print off of the original negative. But in terms of the Super-35 format, you would have never seen a contact-print off of the o-neg anyway, just an optical using dupes before, so I certainly think that D.I.'s have been a boon to that format. It was only in the wide shots in KOH that I wished anamorphic had been used, if not 65mm! The close-ups looked very sharp.

In fact, it would be cool if someone would shoot wider shots in a Super-35 movie in 65mm or VistaVision and keep them at 4K or 6K throughout the D.I. chain. It also would have been better to make 70mm prints of KOH.

It's my personal belief that anyone interested in cinematography should always see a Ridley Scott movie when it comes out in the theaters. To me, there is always something to learn from. By coincidence, I just picked up and read the book Ridley Scott Interviews on my plane flight to NYC this weekend, and saw the movie when I got there, just before my shoot (pick-up shots for "Dot", the HD feature I did in Austin, TX.)
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#9 Michel Hafner

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Posted 11 May 2005 - 01:16 PM

As for the D.I., I think we all should be honest and say that D.I.'s for big-budget movies have improved tremendously in that last few years. At least we now get 4K scans of the negative, even though downrezzed to 2K, than more-or-less "HD" scans using a Spirit Datacine.  Artfiacts are down and "invisibility" is up.  I only wish the process were still closer to the look of a contact-print off of the original negative. 

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


What do you think are the remaining differences?
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#10 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 11 May 2005 - 05:58 PM

What do you think are the remaining differences?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Mainly resolution -- there is still some softening occuring from the D.I. process, and artificial sharpening is not a great solution and adds more un-film-like artifacts. There is some flattening of contrast or dulling of blacks that is hard to pin down. It may be an artifact of laser recording to intermediate stocks more than the scanning & digital color-correction process.

Then there is the whole other issue of doing things digitally with color & contrast that cannot be done photochemically, because while this is a major advantage of D.I.'s (otherwise why do them?) it can also lead to a non-traditional look as well as create some unwanted artifacts (chroma noise, etc.)

Truth is that, just like with digital origination, we'll all meet in the middle somewhere: D.I.'s will keep improving but we'll also get more used to the way they look. Same with digitally-shot features. Same with digital projection. Remember that there are an awful lot of artifacts of film that we no longer really "see" because we've been staring at them all of our lives, while we have been staring at digital images only briefly in comparison.
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#11 Matt Pacini

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Posted 11 May 2005 - 06:03 PM

"....Also the film is another proof that Orlando Bloom can't act to save his life.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


How true.
I haven't seen the film, but a local film reviewer commented on how 50 years ago, the film would have been cast with someone like Charleton Heston, Kirk Douglas, Burt Landcaster, or someone else that you might actually believe as the character.

Today, "superstar" status seems to be based entirely on how many people would like to have sex with you.
Is Jennifer Aniston "really" that brilliant of an actress to make what, $12 million a picture?
Angeline Jolie?
Keanu Reeves?
Ben Afflect?

Have you ever once heard someone say "hey, let's go see that movie, Ben Afflect is in it!"
I really don't think most of these people are a draw at all for audiences, yet they continue to be a draw for financing.

It seems like if get your face on at least 3 magazine covers (People, Us, whatever) and particularly if you're involved in some sort of love affair or scandal, then you automatically get a $10 million dollar fee, and your pick of blockbusters, whether or not you can act, or even fit the part.
Just watch what happens with Katie Holmes, now that she's playing tonsil hockey with Tom Cruise. Her fee is going to go from about $120K to $9 million within a year, and she'll be in a bunch of huge films.
Call me sexist if you want, but just watch it happen.
(Plus, I have Nicole Kidman's meteoric rise to fame as pretty damn good evidence...)

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#12 Andy O'Neil

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Posted 11 May 2005 - 07:40 PM

Ridley Scott is laughing all the way to the bank. It seems like he's become too smug. There are moments of brilliance, but overall very disappointing. Much better than I could do. It's too bad Tripoli's written by the same guy.
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#13 Christian Appelt

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Posted 12 May 2005 - 05:01 PM

I found KINGDOM OF HEAVEN extremely conventional, predictable and a bit boring.
A handful of interesting shots, like the first long shot with snowfall, but I felt that neither the scriptwriter nor the director cared about any of the characters.

All scenes with man-to-man combat were laughable, no decent fighting, all small-shutter-angle-strobe and Shakycam shots. Ridley Scott seems to believe that one style fits all historic tales - it does not.

The leading lady was photographed definitely unflattering a number of times, and some of the CGI work left much to be desired (like the vultures over the battlefield - they look less convincing than hand animated crows in THE BIRDS, and that was in 1963).

Better to say nothing about the music score.

All actors did their best to save the script, but the film seems hacked up in editing.
All in all, I consider this film much inferior to GLADIATOR. I prefer some real action on a smaller scale (like the attack on the castle in THE VIKINGS or in THE WAR LORD).
Even compared to recent films, most of KINGDOM's action scenes suck: Compare the fighting in the woods to a similar scene in LAST SAMURAI.

The print I saw was adequate on a 76 ft screen, noticed only few DI artifacts.
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#14 Boone Hudgins

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Posted 12 May 2005 - 07:09 PM

I was hoping that the score would be good when Hans Zimmer left.
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#15 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 12 May 2005 - 11:29 PM

I was hoping that the score would be good when Hans Zimmer left.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


The score was OK, but I was surprised to hear Jerry Goldsmith's (excellent) score to "The Thirteenth Warrior" tossed into one scene.
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#16 Mark Allen

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Posted 13 May 2005 - 01:10 AM

I just saw the movie. I thought the look was rather generic. It was a huge movie - but I think they failed to capture the geography - especially with Jerusalem. It became so obvious the far shots were a matte because we would go from this way distant shot to an innercity shot that felt nothing similar. When the fighting was around the walls, I got the geography then, but I was still lost as to how deep the city was for the most part. If the city wasn't there, that would have been a great time to at least do a few set extension shot inside the city just so we could feel we were inside of it. I would say the same problem held true for just about everything in the film - it all felt glossed over and therefore lost it's epic feeling. The first city we were in felt like the middle one, felt like the next one - seems like there should have been more visual clues as to where we were - maybe shoot the locations differently.

I feel that in the battle scenes it was purely choas. I want a battle where we follow little stories inside the battle. I want to see the mini goals no just a whole bunch of crazy clashing of shields and swords. A combination of wide and tight and mid - whatever it takes to show us what the character's dilemma and actions against it. Fast cutting can't replace good drama.

It wasn't a painful movie to sit through, just an unnecessary one.
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#17 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 13 May 2005 - 10:34 AM

The score was OK, but I was surprised to hear Jerry Goldsmith's (excellent) score to "The Thirteenth Warrior" tossed into one scene.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Haha! I sometimes wondered if I was the only one on earth who liked that film? The score to that is one of my favorites and is always spinning on my computer.
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#18 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 13 May 2005 - 12:39 PM

Haha! I sometimes wondered if I was the only one on earth who liked that film? The score to that is one of my favorites and is always spinning on my computer.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


It's one of those cases, like Goldsmith's score for "Lionheart" or Polodouris' score for "Conan the Barbarian", where the score is more epic than the movie itself.

"The Thirteenth Warrior" is a story mess and I wonder if the problem happened when Michael Crichton took over the editing from John McTeirnan. The climax plays out like an emotionally lightweight version of "Seven Samurai", lightweight because the characters were so underdeveloped. But I like the rough and rugged anamorphic cinematography, even if it is very underexposed at times.
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#19 Boone Hudgins

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Posted 13 May 2005 - 01:19 PM

I haven't seen that movie in a long time, but I remember not understanding why everybody hated it. It wasn't bad. I've heard that Michael Crichton reshot a little bit of it too. Kind of made it disjointed, not the most cohesive movie ever.

But, I've never heard a bad Jerry Goldsmith score, so it makes sense that it would be among the best things in the movie. I'm not sure how I feel about using score from other movies, though. That's always been a strange idea to me. I guess it's better than having James Horner copy it, but slower...

Was most of Kingdom of Heaven shot with a zoom? On all the promotional videos it looks like the camera has an Angenieux Optimo on it all the time.
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#20 Morgan Peline

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Posted 13 May 2005 - 04:13 PM

I thought KOH was the worst rubbish I've watched in ages. Yeah it looked good in places as you would expect but who really cared?

It was like a parody of a parody of 'the epic battle movie'. My tastes must be changing as I've been forcing myself to watch 'foreign' classics for my 'film culture' including 'Ivan the Terrible' and 'Andreii Rubelev'.

KOH was the worst series of 'epic' cliches I've seen linked together in ages including the typical rousing battle speech near the end, blah blah blah.

It was like oh here's the poor guy, oh yeah here's the first fight scene, oh and here's a 30 second ship wreck, oh, here's the second fight scene. Oh here's the love interest, oh and here's teh guy digging a well because he's actually a really nice guy...talk about card board characters.

Throughout the whole film I was asking myself: How does a poor peasant blacksmith become a commanding, confident leader of men within a few weeks of someone knighting him and then handing him a sword?

I really, really enjoyed Gladiator, it was a lot of fun but how does someone go from Alien and Blade Runner to such tripe as Kingdom of Heaven.

Are all our favourite western directors starting to lose it or am I just getting old?

Yes, yes I know this is a cinematography forum but wow even if it looked great or adequate or correct for the budget what a load of unoriginal, unaldulterated, derivative, simplistic rubbish.

Sorry, had to get it off my chest as I was so disappointed. It did look really nice in places though...

Edited by MorganPeline, 13 May 2005 - 04:19 PM.

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