Tag Archives: comics

Close and Choppy

One of the best people writing about film is David Bordwell, co-author of the textbook Film Art, a staple of university film courses. It’s great to be able to read his writing for free, on a regular basis, and I’ve plugged one of his articles here before.

Slightly belatedly, I thought it was also worth pointing out his article on shaky camera / fast cut filmmaking, which focuses on Paul Greengrass’s The Bourne Ultimatum. The Bourne flick is long gone from cinemas, but the discussion of this style of direction should be with us for years: how many reviews of modern action films have you seen that complain about this way of shooting? (Certainly all mine do).

What’s notable about Bordwell’s article is that he pushes the discussion well beyond the usual grizzling about this style of shooting and analyses in detail what is going on. As he points out, it’s more than just the length of shots and the shakiness of the camera at work: it’s also about how shots are framed, the proximity of the camera to its subject, the way the camera focusses (and pulls focus), and the placement of cuts (as opposed to simply the length of the shots between the cuts). All this is done in some detail with very clear frame captures from the Bourne film as examples.

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Tintin!

If you’ve been anywhere near the film geek webpages during the week you’ll have seen this news: Peter Jackson and Steven Spielberg are making movies of Herge’s comic book series The Adventures of Tintin. Spielberg in particular has been mentioned in relation to this property before, but it really seems to be moving forward now. Courtesy of Variety:

Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson are teaming to direct and produce three back-to-back features based on Georges Remi’s beloved Belgian comic-strip hero Tintin for DreamWorks. Pics will be produced in full digital 3-D using performance capture technology.

The two filmmakers will each direct at least one of the movies; studio wouldn’t say which director would helm the third… The Spielberg-Jackson project isn’t likely to languish in development for long. Spielberg could become available this fall after wrapping “Indiana Jones 4.” Jackson will wrap “Bones” by the end of the year.

I have mixed feelings about this whole thing, but I’m certainly very interested. Tintin was a staple of my childhood; as I got a bit older, I cast them aside, deciding that the other big comic book series, Rene Goscinny and Albert Uderzo’s Asterix was a bit hipper. Yet I came full circle when I revisited the Tintin books as an adult. They might superficially be pitched a little younger than the jokey Asterix books, but Herge was clearly the superior artist. His beautifully simple graphical style and grasp of the comic book form really sets the Tintin books apart. He also showed remarkable facility at different genres: the Tintin books range from the full-blown adventure of sending Tintin to the moon (in Explorers on the Moon) to the minimalist house-bound mystery of The Castafiore Emerald, a comic drama where the ultimate joke is that Herge generates a whole book around nothing of consequence.

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