Sunday, 25 November 2012

30 Day Horror Challenge-Day 11: Wonderful use of lighting.

For the next 30 days, I will be giving my fingers short bursts of exercise by completing the 30 Day Horror Challenge, found here. Hopefully it will give you a bit of insight into what horror is for me. Don't forget to check back every day for a new instalment.

Day 11: Wonderful use of lighting

Could the answer ever be anything but Suspiria? Dario Argento's 1977 masterpiece is not only arguably his best film, but also arguably one of the most visually interesting films ever. The story is based around the strange going ons in a boarding dancing academy in Germany, which the students think might be the doings of a witch, and you can guess the film lends itself to nightmare imagery. I could go on for days about the stunning set pieces and design and general content of the film, but since this is to primarily loo at lighting, let's leave it at that. The lighting is not what you would call traditional. The entire film is played through a child's eyes, and the lighting is used to add to this. Heavy contrast is seen throughout, with stark, well lit passages of light showing us just how close to the safety of the outside world we are, and in consequence forcing us to be more aware of the darker and more hidden places in the school that we head. There is also the films use of colour in scenes that is completely contradictory to what the lighting situation should be. Case in point; when the girls are forced to sleep in the hall after a maggot infestation, the room turns a deep red, instead of black (or the more familiar cinematic blue that Hollywood uses so we can see what happens at night), or the sickly blue that tinges the frame heavily as a girl tries to outrun a nightmare killer. This heavy colour coding is abstract and very symbolic (google and you will find plenty of interpretations of the colours), going hand in hand with the lush cinematography of the film making Suspiria one heck of a beautiful film, even after 35 years.

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