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The Disappointing Cinematography of TLD


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#31 Jaelle

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Posted 11 December 2003 - 10:32 PM

KC, I stand by my point. I don't recall going into any movie theater in the 70s and 80s and watching films look so dark. That has nothing to do with technology, that has to do with the way films were *SHOT*! Today more films are shot to simply look darker than films in the past decades were. That's the difference between the work of Alec Mills and cinematographers of today, pure and simple.

#32 slateprodnj

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Posted 28 December 2003 - 04:30 PM

As far as the cinematography on the Bond films go, here is the way I look at each DP:

Ted Moore - Ok job, set the standard for Bond series - nothing too special here...

Freddie Young - (YOLT) - fantastic job with color and camera placement

Michael Reed - (OHMSS) - amazing cinematography during the snow sequences, everything else was rather plain except the Piz Gloria dinner seqeunce.

Oswald Morris - (TMWTGG) - replaced Ted Moore when he was going blind, uh, I think Morris captured some good shots but TMWTGG was a terrible film. The scenes on Scaramanga's island at the end of the film were visually stunning.

Claude Renoir - (TSWLM) - I wish the grandson of the great painter Renoir stayed aboard for the rest of the Moore era. His work was magnificient - unfortuantely like Ted Moore, he went blind shortly before Moonraker started pre-production.

Jean Tournier - (Moonraker) - I think his work was good for what it was worth. The movie was visually amazing thanks to the work of second unit models by Derek Meddings who also served as DP for the 2nd unit. Tournier does an excellent job with scenes between Bond and Dr. Goodhead.

Alan Hume - I was pleased with his work on FYEO, OCTOP, and AVTAK. Nothing amazing here, just standard camera here camera there. I think Arthur Wooster also deserves some credit for shooting the second unit.

Alec Mills - Started out as a camera operator on the earlier films, Mills does a great job with TLD and LTK. Not sure if there is anything too special in TLD with the exception of the horse sequences at the end of the film, but LTK was dark, dangerous, and was a better photographed film.

Phil Meheux - (GoldenEye) - Some of the best cinematography came from Meheux in GoldenEye. Stunning images, a great use of the widescreen frame, and plenty of visual elements.

Robert Elswit (TND) - I was rather disapointed in the cinematography on TND from Elswit. He has done other movies that have looked better, but I didn't like the wat TND was photographed.

Adrian Biddle (TWINE) - Biddle gave TWINE a nice balance of color but again, failed to thrill me with the cinematography. Some credit should go to Vic Armstrong and the second unit.

David Tattersall (DAD) - Bright colors and dark images plague the latest Bond film which had some great cinematography during the opening titles with Bond being beaten. Not sure if I like the rest of it. Good use of the widescreen format though.

#33 zencat

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Posted 28 December 2003 - 06:47 PM

Nice breakdown, slateprodnj. You seem to really know your stuff. :)

#34 slateprodnj

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Posted 28 December 2003 - 09:47 PM

Thanks Zencat - well, not to toot my own horn:) hehhe - check out www.slateproductions.com

#35 TGO

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Posted 30 December 2003 - 03:21 AM

Originally posted by Kingdom Come
Jaelle, until recently, films always have been run through a projector -   in some theatres today films are shown digitally and will be the norm in time.  

A projector NEVER does a film any favours! Films shown through one have ALWAYS been second to how they can be seen on a large screen at home, as dvd or even video - the technology exists to make THE most spectacular quality picture - now compare millions of pounds of technology that accompliches THAT, with an old film projector?


I believe that to be utter nonsense. If you go to a theater with a well maintained projector and print, and most important, an experienced projectionist, the film will will look its best in the theater. The reason that films look like crap in the theater, is because of laziness. Back in the 50's anything less then a quality picture and satified cinemagoers was unexceptable. But then the cinemas got cheap and installed platter systems, which allowed films to be put on a huge platter, and then be unspooled automatically without any assistance of the projectionist at all. And down the quality went.

Digital projection is a work in progress. It is not as yet detailed as a good film print, and the equipment is prohibitely expensive.

#36 [dark]

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Posted 11 January 2004 - 02:25 PM

The Living Daylights's cinematography is disappointing [aside from the aforementioned shot] after the beautiful A View To A Kill.

That film was so bright and colourful, particularly, in turn, after the muddy, washed-out Octopussy. And that came after the colourful, for the most part, For Your Eyes Only.

#37 Kingdom Come

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Posted 11 January 2004 - 02:56 PM

TGO - you say "the film should look its best in a theatre". Then go on to say "the reason films look crap in a theatre...".
A well maintained projector means NOTHING.

Slate - you are mistaken in some of your points - Michael Reed had little to do
with the snow sequences of OHMSS.

Oswald Morris - only lit MWTGG 's interiors in his usual slate coloured way. Ted Moore did not go blind, as he photographed several more films of the late 70s.
He fell ill during the last days of location filming.

Phil Meheux - "a great use of widescreen". Meheux was roundly critisised for NOT using the widescreen process as well as he could have and instead framed for television and pan & scan versions. He also should have been shot for using that OBVIOUS lense for the wide shot of the beach scene.

Dark - you might be spending too much time in the dark to call Hume's work on Octopussy "Muddy and washed out". It was in a theatre/cinema. Try a dvd version.

#38 [dark]

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Posted 12 January 2004 - 01:50 AM

I've never been fortunate enough to see Octopussy in a theatre. It was made before I was born. I've seen it on VHS, TV and DVD, and it all looks quite washed out.

It still pales [bad pun] in comparison to A View To A Kill. Everything but the mine scenes in A View To A Kill are bright and colourful to look at - Zorin's estate, the firetruck chase with those swirling lights, the sequence atop the Gold Gun bridge, even Stacy's mansion.

But Octopussy is - for the most part - browns and greens and browny-greens and greeny-browns. Even the circus sequences could be more colourful than they are.

Don't get me wrong though, aside from the cinematography, I absolutely adore the film.

#39 Panavision

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Posted 24 January 2004 - 03:23 PM

By the way Jaelle the worst place to see a film is, ironically, a cinema. All films when watched in a cinema look as if they ve been photographed by the same DP - remember its a projector - about as stone age a technology as one could find. They look way too soft and grainy. Film are best viewed on a large widescreen t.v. at home on dvd whose picture quality is vastly superior to film that's ran through a projector.


As someone has pointed out alread, a well maintained projector will show-off cinematography better than any wide-screen TV; unfortunately, not many cinemas really care for quality presentation. Don't underestimate the power of a quality 35mm anamorphic print.

Alan Hume is a genius, gave Octopussy a lovely golden look. A View to a Kill is very New Romantics look :)

Living Daylights is quite ordinary, but suits the film to a tee.

Adrian Biddle or David Tatersall are the future of Bond cinematography. Biddle's work on the Mummy is fantastic.

#40 Kingdom Come

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Posted 24 January 2004 - 06:10 PM

I have been to many top notch cinemas in my time and I still haven't seen a film look the way it does or should look on dvd. A projector as a method of showing films is very much on the way out - so the opinion that a 'top notch projector etc' is not favoured by many. Also blowing up the film to fit a huge screen doesn't help picture quality.

Don't underestimate the quality of a 35 m print on dvd and on a good home system. Octopussy did NOT have any 'golden' look and in agreement with most who have spoken re Biddle's work on TWINE - we hope he and his work will NOT be the future - it was close to the weakest cinematography, bar Reed's work on OHMSS, in the entire series.

I agree with you re Biddle's work on The Mummy / Mummy 2 - his work is stunning; almost beyond words.

#41 Panavision

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Posted 09 February 2004 - 05:47 PM

Don't underestimate the quality of a 35 m print on dvd and on a good home system. Octopussy did NOT have any 'golden' look and in agreement with most who have spoken re Biddle's work on TWINE - we hope he and his work will NOT be the future


Anamorphic DVD features 480 scan lines, and a mint 35mm negative is something like 2000 lines; although, the make-up of both is vastly different. 35mm will always win.

Golden look is evident in all the exterior daytime shots in India.

#42 doublenoughtspy

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Posted 09 February 2004 - 07:55 PM

OK,

Some people here need some schooling - and believe me - the schoolmaster is in.

Multiple posts here have suggested that Michael Reed's work in OHMSS is weak - and one post implies that it's the weakest of the entire series.

What criteria are you using to judge? It must be crack-induced.

3 recent Bond books single out Reed's work and praise it:

Mr Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

License to Thrill

James Bond: The Legacy.

On the OHMSS DVD, audio commentator John Cork calls the scene in the barn "The most beautifully lit of the entire series"

The American Film Institute recently had a restrospective on wide screen cinema & the films that used it best - and along with films by David Lean and Sergio Leone - they chose a single Bond film - OHMSS - which they call "One of the sleekest pop artifacts of the 1960s"

A number of the reviews I have from the time mention that the film is beautifully shot.

EON took out trade ads touting Reed's work for Oscar consideration.

As a non-Bond related example of how much his talents are valued in the UK - he was the cinematographer consulted when they began to film Parliament.

While I am somewhat biased because I have corresponded with Reed - I don't see how a sane person could say his work is the weakest in the series - when it is quite obviously the strongest.

#43 Kingdom Come

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Posted 09 February 2004 - 08:26 PM

It is my opinion that Reed's work on OHMSS is weak and uninteresting. Was he nominated for an Acadamy award for this film? If his work was so beloved why was he not asked to photograph more?

There are books I'm sure and certainly I have read them, that single out Alan Hulme, Freddie Young and Ted Moore - what does that mean? For me Hulme and some others have a real love affair with light, colours and textures; for me this is the more interesting. I admit that Hunt probably wanted a more realistic film and this would account for a more 'naturalistic' approach? But for me, Bond films should not even consider the arena of 'naturalism'.

The bottom line is OHMSS looks too ordinary and should have been extrodinary. The interiors are washed out and lack real definition/colour. I find Cork's opinion on the Barn scene as the most beautifully photographed in the series, interesting, it is okay if you are a fan of vaseline on the lense! I am not.

Ted Moore's work on his 8 films is excellent and eye catching. Renoir; Tournier; Tattersall; same reasons.

But having said all this, I can only repeat that this is only MY opinion.

#44 Panavision

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Posted 09 February 2004 - 08:34 PM

Has anyone actually seen a colour corrected and restored print of OHMSS?
Thought not; these films desperately require restoration and colour-timing before making up your mind on the quality of photography.

Just my opinion.

#45 Kingdom Come

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Posted 09 February 2004 - 08:44 PM

Come to that, has anyone seen other restored Bond films? All of our opinions are based on the films not having been restored. Panavision, I note you don't take your own advice and wait till the films are restored before making up your own mind!!

Har har.

#46 TheSaint

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Posted 10 February 2004 - 12:16 AM

OK, Some people here need some schooling - and believe me - the schoolmaster is in.
Multiple posts here have suggested that Michael Reed's work in OHMSS is weak - and one post implies that it's the weakest of the entire series.
What criteria are you using to judge? It must be crack-induced.
3 recent Bond books single out Reed's work and praise it:
Mr Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
License to Thrill
James Bond: The Legacy.
On the OHMSS DVD, audio commentator John Cork calls the scene in the barn "The most beautifully lit of the entire series"
The American Film Institute recently had a restrospective on wide screen cinema & the films that used it best - and along with films by David Lean and Sergio Leone - they chose a single Bond film - OHMSS - which they call "One of the sleekest pop artifacts of the 1960s"
A number of the reviews I have from the time mention that the film is beautifully shot.
EON took out trade ads touting Reed's work for Oscar consideration.
As a non-Bond related example of how much his talents are valued in the UK - he was the cinematographer consulted when they began to film Parliament.
While I am somewhat biased because I have corresponded with Reed - I don't see how a sane person could say his work is the weakest in the series - when it is quite obviously the strongest.


Please Hammer, don't hurt them!

How did we go from ripping Mills to ripping Reed? I, too, may be biased towards Reed because he was the director of photography on The Saint tv series but, his work on OHMSS is beyond reproach.

I am reminded of a saying that I must paraphrase for CBn consumption-opinions are like rectums, everybody has one.

#47 Kingdom Come

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Posted 21 February 2004 - 09:14 AM

There was a conscious effort with The Living Daylights to have a look that engendered a more 'classic' feel; this Mills achived in my opinion. But personally I missed Hulme's colours / co-ordinantion.

#48 trevanian

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Posted 14 May 2004 - 05:59 AM

Jaelle, until recently, films always have been run through a projector -  in some theatres today films are shown digitally and will be the norm in time.

A projector NEVER does a film any favours! Films shown through one have ALWAYS been second to how they can be seen on a large screen at home, as dvd or even video - the technology exists to make THE most spectacular quality picture - now compare millions of pounds of technology that accompliches THAT, with an old film projector?

While that is USUALLY the case (especially these days, with low wattage projectors, bad projectionists and this godawful digital projection, which locally seems about as powerful as a flashlight being held up to the film), there ARE situations when seeing a film projected and projected properly exceeds even the best home video experience.

I've seen several films in screening rooms (CAVEMAN'S VALENTINE comes to mind, a very cleanly shot film), and a few in really well maintained art houses (good prints of 2001 at the Castro in SF in the early 80s) that transcend ANY home theater showing ... probably because they don't show TOO MUCH detail, which is a problem with lots of stuff on DVD. The DP on EASY RIDER had to go back and make sure they didn't let detail show through in the shadows on the DVD because you weren't supposed to see them .... and in the theater, you never did. This is also why you see the black boxes around spaceships in TREK and SW -- the prints are 'hotter' so the boxes -- garbage mattes that didnt' show up in the theater -- stick out like sore thumbs on laserdisc and dvd (2010 is a prime offender on this.)


Strenuously disagree about Biddle as well. While he has done some remarkable work in the past, I thought his MUMMY stuff, especially #2, was tacky looking. I agree that his Bond work was bad -- made Brosnan look like he had been embalmed. It was like he only lit for Sophie and to hell with everyone else. I'm a little prejudiced, I interviewed Biddle once (it was about MUMMY 2 come to think of it), and it was like pulling teeth to get any tech details from the guy, and he wouldn't hook me up with his crew either. So I made the article, which ran in AMERICAN CINEMATOGRAPHER, mainly about ILM's end, since they'd at least talk about what they did and how they did it.

Edited by trevanian, 14 May 2004 - 06:03 AM.


#49 Kristatos

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Posted 15 May 2004 - 01:56 PM

But i can help Jaelle.
Big Films (in different to TV Films) should have made so, that they have their greatest Place in the Cinema, not at Home. In the first Way they are produced for the Cinemas.

#50 Kingdom Come

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Posted 16 May 2004 - 08:19 AM

Steven Spielberg used to shoot most of his films in the 2:35 aspect ratio which was perfect for a cinema. Since 1992 he has only shot one of his films in this way [Minority Report] as his thinking is that 2% of the lifespan of a film is in a cinema and 98% of its time is on a home system = 1:85. It is better to favour that screen more so than the cinema screen.

N.B. to those in 'charge'! on this site; the time on screen that states when I posted this is 08:19 infact the time should read 09:19.

#51 Atariboy

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Posted 29 May 2004 - 04:38 AM

Just gave TLD a view for the first time in nearly 10 years this evening and noticed there are a *number* of interior sets that look 'TV,' not just the cell set (which is awful). The first room that looked bad to me was the one in which Bond sets up his sniper rifle. 'Turn off the lights' indeed! There are many others...

Even though the movie is quite fun, it really looks cheap.

#52 glidrose

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Posted 02 May 2014 - 08:56 PM

Flat tv-style lighting in interiors. Too many pretty pastels.



#53 glidrose

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 08:10 PM

Great discussion. Shame due to its age that some of the posts are truncated.

Count me in with those who dislike TLD's overlit, tv-style lighting, and OHMSS grungy color-scheme & visuals.

#54 SecretAgentFan

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Posted 17 March 2017 - 06:30 AM

I wonder whether many of the judgments made here are due to watching the films on tv, with HD resolution, personal settings, lighting in the room while watching - instead of seeing the films on a big screen in a dark theatre projecting light through celluloid.

 

Also, one has to take into account of the way a certain look is also part of a fashion, expectations audiences are accustomed to.  Movies also do look different because of the changing technical equipment which makes shooting in certain lighting conditions possible when it was impossible before.

 

I don´t think I ever saw a Bond picture that was shot on the cheap with no interest in the way it looked.  The cinematography always has been a priority for Bond.

 

As for TLD, my impression was always that this is a very well shot Bond film.  And if some interiors look "tv-like", well, set design also is subject to fashion and budget.  I don´t doubt for a second that in 30 years people will complain about SPECTRE´s interiors, too.  (Bond´s flat looks so fake; which Mi6 office would look like that etc.).



#55 DaveBond21

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 09:28 PM

Yes, I think the interior shots look like they were "made for TV" in all of the 1980s Bonds.



#56 SecretAgentFan

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Posted 20 March 2017 - 05:38 AM

And why?  Care to elaborate?



#57 glidrose

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Posted 20 March 2017 - 07:08 PM

I don´t think I ever saw a Bond picture that was shot on the cheap with no interest in the way it looked.


...too many to list.

 

I don´t doubt for a second that in 30 years people will complain about SPECTRE´s interiors, too.


I assure you that no one will ever complain that Spectre was over-lit. :P

 

The cinematography always has been a priority for Bond.

 
We argued this point in another thread some time back. Here are the main posts:
 

A cursory glance at this thread confirms something I've believed for decades. Most of the Bond films are badly shot.

Bond & film historian Adrian Turner also holds this view. Let me quote him: "Sad about that - however, I might argue that none of the original Bond films (everything up to the Brosnan era) had more than routine-looking photography. Thunderball is especially ugly, in my view. Considering the money they lavished on the sets and locations, most of them looked fairly ordinary. Even You Only Live Twice, shot by Freddie Young, looks ho-hum and could have been shot by any old journeyman."

I wouldn't go that far. I think Goldfinger has some startling visuals, as do some of the other films. But by and large the films are not well shot. Just looking at some reference book on the Bond films full of pictures, I was struck by how truly ugly a film Live and Let Die is. The colors, the lighting, even the framing of the shots. Just awful. I flipped to the end of the book and was amazed how startling the imagery in QoS is by comparison.


This is an interesting discussion, but if Turner isn't impressed I think its worth quoting some very wise words from DP Oswald Morris. Morris spoke about the how the Bonds were photographed and makes the point that at the time the early films were made lavish cinematography was not required:
 
"It's the design of [the Bonds] thats the thing that impresses. You're not attempting to put anything into it because its all there, a in the story, b in the performance and c in the design of the sets. You don't have to put an input into it.... the spectacle and the stunts do it all for [you]. You just make a very efficient photographic input .... and thats exactly what Ted [Moore] did I think. He set the pattern and we were all ordered to keep to that because Cubby liked that. I lit the Bond film as a professional job but I was impressed by the sets and everything that went on in it... [the photography] wasn't as important as say a [Franco] Zefirelli film where the photography plays a very important part. You don't need that on a Bond film. There is so much going on in it, god you know if you put another input into it the audience would be totally bewildered....".



"Even You Only Live Twice, shot by Freddie Young, looks ho-hum and could have been shot by any old journeyman."

 
Strongly disagree with Turner there. There are some stunning shots in YOLT,
 
6783_34_large.jpg

 
Definitely!  Young shot YOLT in the most attractive and inventive way.
 
One of my favorite shots in YOLT, by the way, is the camera flying over the Kobe dock while Bond makes his escape over the roofs, knocking down the bad guys, while Barry´s wonderful rendition of the main theme is playing on the soundtrack. 
 
That´s also one of my all-time favorite shots which define what Bond is all about (for me).






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