Use of light – Image 7 – Snatch cinematography

Equally as photography, cinematography shows good uses of light. Instead of being captured in a singular image or series, the lighting is however used in 24fps, meaning that flash techniques can’t be used, the lighting must be continuously maintained for several seconds, even minutes.


The cinematography in the gritty british gangstar film snatch is both gritty and muted, but it works well to connect with the story, and give the impression of, well, a gritty british gangstar film. Cinematographer Tim Maurice-Jones works well with film and lighting to give this continuous look throughout the film, with some scenes standing out more than others. For the audience to believe a film like snatch, the look of the film has to fit the story well, and it has to be maintained to a degree depending on the artistic license of the cinematographer. With snatch, the muted colours and edgy lighting is maintained throughout regardless of when its shot or where its shot, and it fits in expertly with the story.


The scene in which I’m particularly intrigued with is when mikey (Brad Pitt) is effectively knocked out by his opponent in a bare knuckle boxing match and to emphasize the fall, Guy Richtie has directed Maurice-Jones to shot the sequence so mikey falls into water, as if, metaphorically shown, that he is battling to get back up again. Typically underwater shots are difficult because continuous lighting can not be used in water without expensive casing and care. But in this scene, intense spot lighting is used to create the edgy shadows common in Richtie’s work. After seeing a behind the scenes clip, it shows there was a light also used underwater to fill in the darkness caused by shooting underwater with little available light. Overall, the shot shows exactly what was intended; considering to transition from the boxing ring to the water, it shows how successful the lighting is to convey the story with a continuous aesthetic that’s believable.

To maintain such striking visuals through several seconds shows the difference between using light for photography and using light for cinematography.


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