Just got back from an 11:00 screening of 'The Witch' (second time I saw it, wanted to give it a fair chance), and I must say: I really don't see the hype with the movie. It's painfully slow, and lacking in anything 'scary' except in a few select parts, and then the scares and eeriness are reduced by the heavy hitting score and sudden change to fast cuts...
I think the movie is trying to make the point that if you call someone a witch long enough, they might just decide to become one. However, much of the story made little sense.
The cinematography was pretty good, though I felt the look they choose did not help the film, given it's slowness. The other people leaving the theatre seemed to be in agreement with me on this: The film is way to dark to be as slow as it is.
Finally, I noticed an issue with the film that seems to really scream at me: It's painfully obvious that they shot the film at 1080p, and decided to leave the pillar-boxing in place for the DCP release. Most people probably did not notice this, but from someone who knows what to look for - I found the off-black pillar-boxes on the side to be very distracting. I wonder what their motive behind this was? It would have been pretty easy to do a few % blowup on the image to take care of it, and I don't really remember seeing any other 1080p-shot movies shown with the pillar-boxing...
I'm interested in hearing what others opinions on the film are. Perhaps it was just me, though many in the audience seemed to share much of my sentiments about the film.
Edited by Landon D. Parks, 27 February 2016 - 02:26 AM.
I saw the trailer for this some time ago and thought it looked like a great movie I might really like...
...apart from the overall visual look of the film which I though looked like complete ass and like they didn't bother to grade the movie at all or something. I guess it's not as bad as those adverts for floor cleaning products and laundry powder in that sense but it isn't working for me.
Well, thanks for that explanation. They may have wanted it, but I still think it was too distracting from the film. I hate any sort of letter boxing or pillar boxing, and in reality I doubt a few hundred pixels on each side would have changed the framing much... But I digress....
As for the cinematography - like I said earlier, it's okay - but it's not groundbreaking. It has that typical 'I'm a 16th century film' look to it. Muted colors, contrasty (pretty much a bleach bypass). If there had been more action, the look of the film might have served it better. But given that there each scene was painfully long and full of old-English dialogue that was hard to follow - combined with the dark theatre and dark mood of the film - it nearly put me to sleep several times - BOTH times I watched it.
I wanted to like it --- but apparently it just wasn't my cup-o-tea. I still can't see how it got such a high tomato rating, and is even sitting at 8/10 on IMDb... It's just average at best.
As for the cinematography - like I said earlier, it's okay - but it's not groundbreaking. It has that typical 'I'm a 16th century film' look to it. Muted colors, contrasty (pretty much a bleach bypass).
I would have said it was more low contrast and desaturated. For me it's not a good look although it sort of works on this frame:
I went to watch it tonight and I actually loved the movie.
The pace is absolutely brilliant, every single thing is super measured and the framing is quite perfect for the type of movie that "The Witch" is.
In my opinion, the 1.66 ratio is a great election for the movie because it makes you feel a bit disorientated at the beginning, as the family is and then it becomes part of the story and gives the visual look of the movie its strength.
Again, I am the very first one who doesn't like flat images but the cinematography of "The Witch" is full of subtleties and tones and yet very monochromatic which helps sell the idea of it being in New England at that time.
The interiors of the movie are brilliantly done and although they have a really naturalistic approach, you can see that every single frame was very well thought and lit.
I remember one sequence where the older girl is praying and the texture and quality of the image introduces you in "The Witch's" world.
As for the directing part, I definitely think that it is very well directed.
The director knows exactly what to not show and what to show and where to guide the viewers within the frame.
The actors are just fabulous and the older fella is by far the best one in the movie.. the way he looks at his older sister, the way he follows his dad, everything!
There is also a lot of tension, helped by the pace of the movie, which is released at the end, creating a massive sense of discomfort.
The only thing I would have changed is the idea of the witch, as opposed as showing it and letting the viewer know that there are witches, that they are real, I would have played with the character's psychology a bit more, but that's just a really minor point
I agree it was a descent movie.... Though I really didn't enjoy it. I found that the slow nature of 'getting to the point' was torture, and a lot of it was what I would consider 'filler'. It had its chilling moments, but it just didn't 'work' for me. The 1.66:1 was okay, but in the theatre I saw it in, it was distracting having the grey bars on the side - just seemed out of place. Honestly, would 1.85:1 been so different from the 1.66:1 ratio that it was worth the trouble.
I still think the film was just too dark. It suffered from the same effect as Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow, which was a good movie - though the constant darkness and lack of color was tiring on the eyes.
One of the first that has had me excited in a long time.
However I really don't like the look of it.
Maybe it works when you see it all in context but I suspect I just don't like this kind of look and other people are okay with it.
I've never been able to get my head around that but I've had discussions about it with people and can only conclude that it is a problem with my personal taste as plenty of other people have no issue with this kind of look.
On the upside I saw High Rise and liked the way it looked and really enjoyed the movie too in spite of the fact it turned out to be a lot like I was worried it might be, only about 1000 times more full on. Actually the full on from start to finish part of it helped the movie I felt. So that was also good news on the cinema front.
I'm strangely pleased that the look of the film is as divisive as the rest of it. Rob wanted the film to feel visually oppressive, and we were constantly chasing the weather to keep the exteriors gloomy. There is less done in the grade than you think- that is real gloom. However, the cyan color and "under exposure" startles even me when I see it on a computer out of context, as opposed to settling in to the world in a theatre where you mentally recalibrate to what you're looking at over the 90 minutes. Another circumstance to remember is that of the wild variation in projection quality across a wide release. Sadly our darker scenes must surely be scarcely visible when projected from ill maintained projectors. It will be even worse across TV screens and computers which are "calibrated" all over the place. There is great pressure to grade things safely in the middle of the tonal range for this reason, and the lack of standardization in presentation is severely limiting the expression of craftspeople who do what we do. Nonetheless I took a little bit of a risk in sticking to my guns rather than play it safely toward the middle, where it wouldn't look like our movie.
As far as 1.66, we just find it more pleasing and harmonious to compose, as well as more timeless. I consider 1.85 as a frame a very contemporary arrival to the arts in general, and always gives a tinge of the contemporary when you look at an image within that frame. So 1.66 was not supposed to evoke another kind of cinema, quite the contrary- we hoped to help move an audience to a time before cinema in a subtle way. And it was a pleasure to compose, too.
I was wondering about this film, after the opinions showed up here. I was really glad that the cinematographer spoke up. Also, Im glad that Miguel is such a neutral, or by default optomistic element in the dance.
I started watching The Witch. The photography and the language make it feel quite immersive. There is some real potencey. I have to admire it.
I'm noting that almost every image is taken from the observable environment. The abstract states existing in the mind or heart are expressed that way. So, though it is obvious to say, and obvious to all, I suppose, it is a sort of exquisite photoplay. Is it those roots, the photoplay, that make the film makers ignore the full range of observable, expressive objects in the environment. For example, what does terror look like when expressed in a tiny part of a human iris. I often imagine these kinds of things, but I seldom see them in a film.
I read that they did shoot all candle lit, but some shots had extra candles on stands that could be brought in; a large Kubrick. Having just watched this for thexample first time a few weeks ago, I was interested to read up on it.