Lord of the Rings
director of photography
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Commentaries on this disc:
Film historian and writer Foster Hirsch
Rating:9.5/10 (2 votes) [
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Reviewed by Glenn Hopp on May 26th, 2007
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I enjoyed this commentary very much because it taught me a lot about the movie. Hirsch maintains that the real star of the film was director of photography Joe McDonald, and Hirsch consistently points out how the photography, empty space, and framing are used to convey meaning (about the emotional distance between characters and about the theme of emotional emptiness). His sharpest point comes about acting, however, when he says that Richard Basehart as the man on the ledge is giving a very good performance but essentially one of externals. We don't really get inside him as a character. Hirsch speculates on the fuller emotional range Basehart or maybe another actor (Clift or Brando or James Dean) might have conveyed had the director been someone like Elia Kazan rather than Henry Hathaway, whose hostility toward actors is well known. Hirsch also floats the idea that the unexplained motive for Basehart being on the ledge is that he is a repressed gay in a culture that wouldn't tolerate such sexuality. This may sound too ingenious to be believed, but actually Hirsch makes the point plausible and interesting (though some of his Freudian comments about the background shots of the Woolworth building suggesting a phallic symbol seem strained). The commentary is also strong on the process photography and how the location shots in New York are expertly matched to the studio work in Hollywood.
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