Spotlight on Cinematography: The Power of Silhouettes

Oh the drama of a solid silhouette. Is there anything quite as commanding? They demand attention by drawing the eye to the subject, and often leave nothing else in the frame. Silhouettes define characters and situations, and are often used to emphasize the solitary nature of a single figure (a la Batman) or to amp up the drama of a group of people (a la Chicago‘s cellblock tango). Silhouettes help to elevate tension in an understated way by eliminating all the other details that would otherwise be vying for attention. It draws the focus to a pinpointed item or character and builds significance through isolation. They carry power through their simplicity– when you remove all the extra information, what is left is all the more commanding.

hateful eight
The Hateful Eight (2015) || Robert Richardson (DP)
deathly hallows part two
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part Two (2011) || Eduardo Serra (DP)
Lawless (2012) || Benoit Delhomme (DP)
the dark knight
The Dark Knight (2008) Wally Pfister (DP)
a girl walks home alone at night
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014) || Lyle Vincent (DP)
django unchained
Django Unchained (2012) || Robert Richardson (DP)
bram stokers dracula
Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) || Michael Ballhaus (DP)

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