Since around 2008,
when the DSLR revolution put full frame sensors in the hands
of amateur film makers and videographers
Super shallow depth of field
has become something of a cliche in indie filmmaking
For a lot of film makers, myself included
This effect was used not just as a tool
but as a crutch to achieve that cinematic look.
These days super shallow focus is everywhere.
It’s a fashion more than a technique.
So, it’s really really cool to see an episodic show,
like the Handmaid’s Tale,
incorporate the effect in a systematic way,
as a motif of its visual language.
The director of the first two episodes of the show,
the director who set the tone is Reed Morano,
a former cinematographer.
She and her own DP for this project calling Watkinson
created an extremely concentrated ecstatic,
one that is beautiful and terrifying at the same time.
They captured the dystopian world of Gilead,
meant choosing the right camera and the right lenses.
Morano shot on the Arri-Alexa minis in 4k
and use lenses that open all the way up to apertures
of 1.3 and 1.4, which means
your depth of field is going to be raisor thin,
and everything outside of that field is going to be blown out
and pretty uniform blur.
And the shallow focus serves the story in three ways.
First,They capture the main characters’ point of view.
Offred played by Elisabeth Moss is a handmaid
in the republic of Gilead,
a theocratic and totalitarian state that has overtaken America
in which women no longer have any rights.
Handmaids are the last women who can still have children,
the rest of society being largely sterile.
And they’re forced to bear children for leaders of the regime.
But it wasn’t always like this.
Before the revolution, Offred lived in the America of our time.
And the story of The Handmaid’s Tale is
rarely the story of the transition between America and Gilead.
told through the experience of Offred.
Today I listen to that horror.
Reed and Watkinson focus on the face
It’s hard to remember a show that relies so much
on one extreme close-up.
But Elisabeth Moss is definitely up to the task,
with a camera mere inches from her nose.
The filmmakers combine a wide 20 milimetre Zeiss lens
used only for these shots,
with a shallow depth of field to create intense intimacy.
With her bonnet on, it’s almost as if
were under a blanket with the character.
The shallow depth of field extreme close-ups are an effective way
to get the audience to identify with Offred.
But, they also point to an important theme
that as a slave in the new therotorian state
where your physical being is effectively controlled by someone else,
your only agency is mental.
The mind is where you have to retreat
to escape the plan, and to remember.
It’s only a thin plan of focus,
but it’s still yours.
Second, shallow focus is used to help
create the world of Gilead.
Unlike many distopias you see in film and TV,
Gilead is not a post of park of political world
of rubble and ruin
It’s actually the opposite.
Meticulously manicure new England full of sunlight and green foliage.
Reed and Watkinson site Kubric as an inspiration,
and they echo a lot of his one point perspective framings,
and definitely captured the creepiest of that.
But for the women of Gilead, what’s notable about this world
is how little they know about it.
Think of all the knowledge that’s accessible to you through the internet
In Gilead women are not only prohibited from going online.
They are prohibited from reading anything.
Result is a perspective that’s extraordinarily narrowed.
The shallow depth of field captures this perfectly,
because it literally narrows the visual information in focus.
The Handmaid’s Tale is constructed in fragments.
You have America and you have Gilead,
and the show give you the pieces in between the two.
But, never the full timeline.
This is important because the show’s primary characters
don’t have the full timeline themselves.
This brutal new world,
or at least the conditions that make it possible
snock up on them.
-I have to let you go. -What?
But that doesn’t mean a king out of nowhere
but they are somehow connected.
For example, even though Reed and Watkinson adopt
a more handheld variety style for the flashbacks.
The shallow focus remains.
and they do this I think just to suggest that
both worlds suffer from problems of limited perspective.
在基列 由塑造压迫的氛围 使用有限的透视
In Gilead, perspective is limited by force.
But in our world, perspective is limited by choice.
We keep our heads down, eyes glued to our screens,
stuck in our echo chambers while the blurry world around us.
Changes, it brings home a vital message
that our rights are not guaranteed by the world.
we fight for them,
and have to protect them everyday, because
they can be taken away from us,
if we don’t pay attention to the world beyond our focus.
Everyone likes shallow depth of field.
近焦很美 因为美 每个人都使用它拍摄
It’s beautiful. And because it’s beautiful, everyone uses it
to make their work look better
more professional, more cinematic.
And as a result, we get used to seeing it.
When I watched the Handmaid’s Tale,
I was amazed at how much the depth of field influenced my feelings
无论是对于角色 世界 还是故事
about the characters and the world, and the story.
It’s just rare that you see these devices used with
such purpose, so methodically, and so effectively.
And it really is effective.
If you don’t believe me,
been to watch a few episodes of the Handmaid’s Tale
Then, go outside.
I guarantee you’ll have a new film respect
for how much there is to see.