LIGHTING DIAGRAM #6 – PRESUMED INNOCENT

            Harrison Ford’s character Rusty Sabich has an illicit, after-hours rendezvous with colleague Carolyn Polhemus (Greta Scacchi) in her office; find it at 0:44:25…

            This’s a really interesting example of single-source, indirect lighting (save for the 10K noted outside the window, the other units are inconsequential).  That the illumination in the room comes from the window is not unusual.  But notice that it only faces the actors as they enter through the door.  As they move to the desk, their angle to the window becomes much more severe and they are keyed by what amounts to the fall off of the source.  The look is appropriately subdued in keeping with the time of day and mood of the action…and once again, Willis’ choice is simple and elegant.  Rather than light the actors, he lit the room.  There was no fill light except for whatever bounced off the set walls, courtesy of the 10K.

            Notice the medium shot of Greta Scacchi at the desk – her face is in total darkness.  This’s a brilliant illustration of how the photography can subtly reinforce character and story.  As the movie’s femme fatale, she nearly destroys Ford’s life.  To obscure her in such a way at this pivotal moment tells us more in a glance than a page of dialogue.

            This was also the only multi-shot scene in the film to be photographed entirely with a Mitchell B diffusion filter.  Willis used it to take a bit of the edge off the image; in this context it was a very smart choice.  He also underexposed the proceedings by a full stop, thus compressing the exposure range and adding to the dark nature of what’s unfolding.

9.4.2020

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