➊ Lighting And Camera Work In Casablanca
Cinematic Lighting Techniques - Part 1
The next moment introduces vivid camera movement up to the scene in which the train departs. During all the sequences of scenes at the station are accompanied by heavy rain, which also contributes to the expressive interpretation. Lighting also plays important role in delivering the main message of the episode in the movie. The scene starts with top and frontal lighting to capture the view on the railway station and show the crowd rushing here and there in the search of their platforms.
A lot of black umbrellas contribute to sense of the inevitability of things to come. Use of artificial lightning is necessary for the viewers to be able to grasp the entire atmosphere at the station. The scene in which Sam is looking for Rick is accompanied with low contrast light. The director employs this technique to emphasize a fixed medium shot of the camera. Although the play of light and shadow is not intense, the audience could predict that the next scene will be culminated. The shifts in lightning occur to the letter-reading episode. The letter itself is represented by means of high contrast lightning, which creates the culmination in the scene. Combined drips falling down the letter with contrasted light enhances the overall effect on the viewers.
The framing and editing of the movie scene is also skillfully introduced. The director successfully selects costumes, setting, and sound, and background music to produce the atmosphere of suspense. Everything — from props, shapes, and colors — reflects the historic period, location, and the prevalent mood in the movie. The rain effect is probably the most remarkable in the episode because it gives a sense of time passing by incredibly fast.
Rick wears a raincoat and a black hat, which suits best the railway sequence. The balance of the entire composition, therefore, is maintained due to the equal distribution of objects, color, light, and sound. The black and white movie stock is another important feature which allows the audience to feel the circumstances under which the heroes act. Although the railway station scene is only 1 minute long, the director manages to incorporate a variety of techniques from camera abrupt movement to single-shot representations.
Therefore, the entire scene seems to be attention grabbing to the above presented techniques. In conclusion, the light, editing, stage progressing, and sound emphasize the emotionally intense atmosphere of the scene. Both the heroes and the background are skillfully represented by the director, including play of light and shadow, close-ups and middle shots, and camera movements. Since there are no clear patterns as to which characters are framed, it is obvious that the framings inside Rick's serve as metaphors of entrapment for ALL the characters. However, I would argue that the significance of aperture framings inside Rick's is of a paradoxical nature. After all, the soft circular lines of the entrances, walls and vaulted ceilings not only trap the characters but also envelope them, giving Rick's almost womb-like connotations.
In that regard the aperture framings imply that Rick's is a safe haven, which implicitly sets it in stark contrast to the rest of Casablanca - perhaps to the rest of the world for that matter. Regarding the metaphorical function of aperture framings, there also exists the slightly speculative possibility of assigning different meanings to different shapes of framing. There is in fact some evidence that indicates a systematic use of these half-circle framings for Ugarte and Strasser Fig. My main concern, however, is not with the actual meanings ascribed to the various frames, but rather to what extent aperture framings actually elicit notions such as confinement, claustrophobia, refuge, etc.
That is, do these shots actually pass these notions on to the viewer or are they purely analytical constructs? Though I assume that the viewer's understanding of a character is at least influenced by the kind of frame that the character is placed in, it is difficult to prove exactly how the different framings are interpreted. Furthermore, metaphorical implications of aperture framings only seem to apply in specific dramatic contexts. As I will show later, a doorway frame around a certain character is not always a metaphor of entrapment.
This makes it hard to see metaphorical framings as a broad-ranging staging strategy. My point is that assertions about metaphorical framings can be difficult to substantiate when trying to determine how framings are staged and designed in relation to the viewer. While it is definitely relevant to study metaphorical implications arising from the way characters are framed in a film, there are other approaches that may at first seem more mundane but on the other hand offer more fundamental explanations of why a movie like Casablanca looks the way it does. Solso, David Bordwell notes that viewers tend to scan pictures and pause on areas of high information content such as faces, eyes, hands and movement but also on "vivid, prominent compositional features, such as areas where light values contrast or vectors cross.
They can simply be used as a means of directing the viewer's attention towards a particular area of the shot. This deictic function is really much closer to the original use of aperture framings as an intraframe storytelling device which was developed during the golden era of depth composition from around to Intraframe staging constituted, at least for a short time, an alternative path to that of editing in directing the attention of the viewer within the shot instead of between shots.
From the vantage point of working with a stationary camera, directors developed ways of activating the action in front of the camera and the use of the space behind and other framing devices was an important tool in this regard. In particular directors such as Yevgeni Bauer and Louis Feuillade found subtle ways of blocking, revealing and activating aperture frames. Just a year or two prior to the release of Casablanca , Orson Welles and Gregg Toland had shown in Citizen Kane how to make good use of two other important intraframe narrative devices that the silent film makers didn't have at their disposal: sound and the extremely close foreground.
Consider for instance the scene where Ilsa Ingrid Bergman comes to talk to Rick on the night of her arrival in Casablanca. This is just after the Paris flashback. The first shot after the flashback features a right to left camera movement from Rick's face to his hand that tips over a glass just as Ilsa did in the flashback. The second shot features a left to right camera movement following Sam's Dooley Wilson's short walk to the right edge of the frame thus leaving open space between him and Rick in the very center of the shot.
Here there is a door in the background which is itself framed by the vaulted ceiling. So in a sense it is a double aperture framing. The visual staging clearly prepares the viewer for the oncoming activation of this area of the shot where Ilsa will enter shortly after Fig. The only object featured in the center of the shot is the bourbon bottle in front of Rick, but half a second before Ilsa enters, Rick removes the bottle to pour himself a drink thereby giving the viewer an unobstructed view of the entrance.
In fact, this scene almost provides a catalogue of means to direct the viewer's attention towards a character's entrance. Beyond the measures already discussed, both Rick and Sam turn their heads toward the door; there is a musical cue; the foreground of the shot is darkened right before Ilsa enters and when she does , strong back lighting emphasizes that she is framed by the doorway.
Other examples of aperture framings that focus attention on a specific character include for instance the staging of Rick's entrance to the gambling room and the staging of a French policeman coming to announce Major Strasser's arrival Fig. As a matter of fact, it could be argued that all of the examples I have mentioned in connection with compositional balance and metaphorical implications also direct attention toward the characters framed. Take for instance the shot of Strasser Fig. The framing does not necessarily carry metaphorical significance but simply singles Strasser out, thereby helping to draw attention to Strasser as a central character in the scene.
This, of course, does not exclude the possibility of the framing also carrying metaphorical significance or its also serving the purpose of blocking off space above his head. If you want to increase the amount of light in a room without using multiple lamps, adding a light kit is the perfect solution for you. Ceiling fan light kits from Casablanca provide evenly dispersed lighting to any space, regardless of size or layout. Many of our light kits work with remotes and light dimmers, giving you complete control over your ceiling fan's speed, direction, and rotation.
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