Friday, September 20, 2013

Lighting in A Clockwork Orange

The name Stanley Kubrick is synonymous with innovation both on the screen and off. He was the first to bring the steadicam onto the scene for the filming of The Shining, and has also created other tools and techniques that make his films stand out as some of the best. As I was re-watching the cult classic A Clockwork Orange, I couldn't help but notice one specific scene where there appeared to be no set up lights, which I found astonishing.

The scene where Little Alex chases, and subsequently murders the Cat Lady is shot on a handheld 18mm Arriflex camera, and involves him moving around the room as the scene unfolds. The camera focuses on all four walls at some point throughout the shot, which means it would be impossible to set up lights in the room (you can see the ceiling too). Kubrick used his innovation, and actually included illuminated sculptures around the walls, which ended up lighting the room perfectly, and was soft enough to cast no shadows, including his own as he moved around the room.

This was not the first time Kubrick had used this technique; he used similar lighting in the war room in Dr. Strangelove and the circular space ship in 2001. I really like the whole aspect of him building the lighting into the scene as opposed to using set lighting. It adds a certain realistic and natural quality to the scene which in my opinion makes this shot rather eerie.




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