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Pale Rider


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#1 Richard Boddington

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Posted 20 August 2005 - 11:11 AM

I watched about an hour of Clint Eastwood in "Pale Rider" on TBS yesterday. Yes I had nothing better to do.

I saw this film at the theatre in the 80s. What struck me about this film seeing it now is that they didn't bother to try and "fancy up" the lighting in any way. They just shot is "straight." When people are outside talking, which happens a lot, there are clearly no lights or bounce cards being used. They just let the harsh light & shadows of full sun do what it does when it falls on people's faces. Every one wears a cowboy hat in the film and they never bothered to try and throw some light under the brims.

In the scene where Eastwood confronts the corupt town boss in his office, it's very dark. Some times you can only see the persons face in a bit of light, no BG.

My wife had never seen this film before and made what I thought was the ultimate comment about the lighting, she said, "is this a Canadian film?" Canadian films are famous for their bad lighting and "cheap" look.

Now on the one hand this was kind of a refreshing look to film making, it wasn't glossy at all, and maybe that's why they chose this sort of lighting? They thought it added to the 1800s feel of the wild west.

Any way if you have not seen Pale Rider, rent it at the video store next time and you'll see what I'm talking about.

Contrast it with the best lit film in the history of the world, "The Natural", with Robert Redford. Any one who can emulate the Natural for it's lighting is guaranteed success as a DOP in Hollywood.

R,
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#2 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 20 August 2005 - 12:25 PM

I'm sure Fstop will jump in soon, as he has been talking about Bruce Surtees in another thread, but the minimalist, gritty look of Pale Rider is the reason I love the film, along with Outlaw Josey Wales and High Plains Drifter.

Eastwood (as a director) has a reputation for a measured exactness to his filmmaking, so i'm sure the lighting decisions made by Surtees in Pale Rider were entirely in keeping with Eastwoods' vision for the film.
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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 20 August 2005 - 01:26 PM

One story I heard was that Eastwood was always uncomfortable squinting from the reflectors used on the Leone westerns, so he made a general rule about no fill light being used outdoors on his movies, although he of course will bend that rule (you can see a griflon reflected in his sunglasses in the airfield scene in "Space Cowboys" for example.)

A director I know was less than complimentary about "Bridges of Madison County" -- "it looked like they just pulled the van up to the side of a road and shot the scenes with no equipment." So not everyone is as impressed by visual restraint and simplicity as others are...
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#4 Lars.Erik

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Posted 22 August 2005 - 01:13 AM

Not to use fill light is a good way to photograph a harsh place, with harsh people etc. I don't know. maybe this is what Mr. Eastwood was gunning for. Who knows?
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