Wednesday, 10 February 2016
Jan-March 2016 week 4 and 5 NIGHT OF THE DEMON
Continuing on form the previous classes , looking at perspective, lighting and framing, I thought it would be fun to watch Jacques Tourneur's 1957 horror classic, Night Of The Demon, based on a short story by M. R. James, as it has great examples of all those things, plus great imagery and, well, it's just plain fun to watch.
I thought it would also provide inspiring imagery for the next project.
A lot can be written and discussed about Night Of The Demon, that it is not actually about demons but rather about writing, and the power of writing and words. We have the written, damning, expose of Karswell's cult, the runes, written on the parchment and also on Stonehenge,. However, I am going to stick to how it relates to what we have discussed in class. I have not had any formal training it film study, however, my 30 years as a storyboard artist and my love of film is what I base the following views on.
The first thing I wanted to bring to your attention was the use of camera angles to suggest the mood and tone of a scene.
The film opens with Professor Harrington paying a visit to Lufford Hall to plead with Doctor Karswell to call of his curse.
Not as he approaches the gates, a low angle is used to make the entrance more imposing. Also notice statue on top of the gate pillar. It looks like a lion but look closer.
It could well be a lion but it also looks very similar to the demon which appears later . And what it it holding? Looks like a hand.
Here we have the same location but from a high angle from the other side of the gate, still imposing and , for me at least, a teaser of the beast to come
Hear we have a hight angle of Professor Harrington entering Lufford Hall. The hight angle serves to show the expanse of the main entrance and a clue to the size of the building but also serves to suggest Professor Harrington as small, and given the nature of the scene, rather powerless against powers bigger and greater than himself.
High angles are sometimes used to imply being observed by the unseen. "I wouldn't like to think I'd been followed from my hotel this morning" remarks Holden to Karswell .
Another low angle shot of John Holden (played by Dana Andrews) approaching the British Museum. Holden, a man of science and a sceptic, has a closed mind to the supernatural. His understanding is limited. The British Museum is a wealth of knowledge and information on all kinds of things, the explainable and the unexplainable. To me, this is also showing Holden on a journey of learning , about himself and the world around him.
The size of the gates also add to this.
Here is Holden entering a section of the library (again, more reference to writing)
Note the high angle , showing the size of the room and the wealth of learning. Holden, a man of limited learning enters an arena of vast learning.
Ken Adam was the production designer for Night Of The Demon. The library scene reminds me of a Ken Adam's set design even though the actual British Museum Library was used.
Ken Adam is known for his set designs for such films as Dr. Strangelove, and the early Bond movies.
Below are Ken Adam's concept art and the final set of The War Room from Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
What strikes me most about this film , is the lighting. It's very atmospheric.
Lots of shadows and silhouettes.
Ted Scaife does a great job as director of photography.
Here are some more examples of the lighting and framing that , for me, sets this film apart.
To go back to my understanding that the film is about writing, the photography for this movie is also, like writing. It is like light writing on dark and dark writing on light.
It is not by accident you happen to be looking at the couple in this scene (above), you are looking because the lighting commands you to do so. It has been arranged for that reason.
Study the images below. I love this scene.
Look how the window frame breaks up the scene. For me, it divides the scene up into small world and big world. The doubting policeman , framed by the lower left pane of glass , suggests small closed world, whereas, the center frame is larger suggesting that these two are part of a bigger understanding, in a world that is beginning to expand.
Here is a great low angle shot (below).
Karswell, racing into a vast darkness.
So, now we come to the reference material and breakdowns for the drawing.
Here are some reference shots that may be useful.
This could be one of yours, Richard.
Also, notice the runes on the left . These can be used later in the final drawing.
Here are the breakdowns
Arguably, this drawing could be composed without perspective plotting but I think it is good practice to at least be aware of your horizon line to help you ground the drawing.
Notice the horizon line is roughly two thirds of the page down.
The composition is central.
You can see here I have roughly plotted the steam train and the demon. Very rough line work at this stage to achieve the balance.
Here are some reference shots of steam trains.
This shot is kind of what I have achieved in the final drawing. The train in my drawing is not clearly identified. It is referencing Karswell, "But where does imagination end and reality begin? What is this twilight, this half world of the mind that you profess to know so much about? How can we differentiate between the powers of darkness and the powers of the mind?"
Did the train kill Karswell or was it a demon?
To get the proportions of the train, I had to draw the drain out as it I were to continue drawing, making the basic detail visible. This created a more realistic shape.
Here are some railway track reference shots. I have not been too technically accurate with mine but just added enough detail to make them look believable.
Ok, so there you have it. I don't want to tell you how to shade it, whether to render it in pencil , ink, markers or paint. I want you to decide. Make it your own. Express yourself in a style that represents you. Do keep in mind the lessons where we have covered contrast, separating light from dark etc.
No class next week,15th February, as it is half term. The next class will run on 22nd February.