Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Kristen Stewart Is First American Actress Nominated for César Awards in 30 Years; 'Saint Laurent' Leads with Ten Kristen Stewart Is First American Actress Nominated for César Awards in 30 Years; 'Saint Laurent' Leads with Ten How They Sustained the Times Square Momentum in 'Birdman' VIDEO How They Sustained the Times Square Momentum in 'Birdman' VIDEO 6 Things to Know About Sexy Sundance Breakout 'Diary of a Teenage Girl,' Part of Sundance's Women's New Wave 6 Things to Know About Sexy Sundance Breakout 'Diary of a Teenage Girl,' Part of Sundance's Women's New Wave Sundance Raves About Ewan McGregor as Jesus and the Devil in 'Last Days in the Desert' Sundance Raves About Ewan McGregor as Jesus and the Devil in 'Last Days in the Desert' Filmmakers, Give Us Your Numbers! Sundance and Cinereach Unveil The Transparency Project Filmmakers, Give Us Your Numbers! Sundance and Cinereach Unveil The Transparency Project Top Ten Takeaways: Polarizing 'American Sniper' Speeds Past $200 Million; Lopez Trounces Depp Top Ten Takeaways: Polarizing 'American Sniper' Speeds Past $200 Million; Lopez Trounces Depp Arthouse Audit: Panic Time? 'Mommy,' 'Red Army,' 'Black Sea,' 'Cake,' 'Duke of Burgundy' All Disappoint Arthouse Audit: Panic Time? 'Mommy,' 'Red Army,' 'Black Sea,' 'Cake,' 'Duke of Burgundy' All Disappoint 2015 PGA Winners: 'Birdman' Steals 'Boyhood''s Awards Season Thunder 2015 PGA Winners: 'Birdman' Steals 'Boyhood''s Awards Season Thunder Watch: Nicole Kidman Talks 'Strangerland' at Sundance (Exclusive Video Interview) Watch: Nicole Kidman Talks 'Strangerland' at Sundance (Exclusive Video Interview) Sundance Acquisitions Market Heats Up with 'The Bronze' and 
'The Witch' Sundance Acquisitions Market Heats Up with 'The Bronze' and 'The Witch' Sundance: Netflix Inks Four-Picture Deal with Duplass Brothers Sundance: Netflix Inks Four-Picture Deal with Duplass Brothers Early Reviews Portend Sundance Breakout in Stylish Historical Horror 'The Witch' Early Reviews Portend Sundance Breakout in Stylish Historical Horror 'The Witch' Sundance: 5 Things to Expect From Alex Gibney's Damning Scientology Doc 'Going Clear' Sundance: 5 Things to Expect From Alex Gibney's Damning Scientology Doc 'Going Clear' Sundance Reviews: 'The Bronze' Is "Potty-Mouthed," "Vinegar-Spirited," Racy Gymnast Comedy Sundance Reviews: 'The Bronze' Is "Potty-Mouthed," "Vinegar-Spirited," Racy Gymnast Comedy 'American Sniper' Writer Jason Hall Addresses Concerns About Clint Eastwood's Controversial War Pic 'American Sniper' Writer Jason Hall Addresses Concerns About Clint Eastwood's Controversial War Pic Martin Scorsese Breaks Long-Awaited 'Silence,' Set to Begin Filming This Month Martin Scorsese Breaks Long-Awaited 'Silence,' Set to Begin Filming This Month Watch: Meet the Women of 'Birdman' (Exclusive 4-Minute Featurette) Watch: Meet the Women of 'Birdman' (Exclusive 4-Minute Featurette) Watch: Hitchcock's Thwarted Holocaust Documentary Comes to HBO Watch: Hitchcock's Thwarted Holocaust Documentary Comes to HBO Best Actor Oscar Predictions 2015 UPDATED Best Actor Oscar Predictions 2015 UPDATED Oscar Predictions 2015 Oscar Predictions 2015

New York Film Critics' Cinematography Winner Delbonnel Goes 'Inside Llewyn Davis'

Thompson on Hollywood By Bill Desowitz | Thompson on Hollywood December 4, 2013 at 2:16PM

Given the evocative look and setting of the Coen Brothers' "Inside Llewyn Davis," it's not surprising that Bruno Delbonnel snagged the cinematography award yesterday from the New York Film Critics Circle. He exquisitely captures the coldness, sadness, unhappiness, and loneliness of Oscar Isaac's struggling folk singer in Greenwich Village of '61.
1
Inside Llewyn Davis

Given the evocative look and setting of the Coen Brothers' "Inside Llewyn Davis," it's not surprising that Bruno Delbonnel snagged the cinematography award yesterday from the New York Film Critics Circle. He exquisitely captures the coldness, sadness, unhappiness, and loneliness of Oscar Isaac's struggling folk singer in Greenwich Village of '61.

The French cinematographer ("Big Eyes," "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," "Amelie") doesn't like to reference other movies, but the archival research from the period was predominately desaturated. So he decided to make it more personal and lit it like a folk song, using the cover of "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan" as a starting off point.

"I wanted to find another palette that was uncomfortable, and that was magenta," Delbonnel explains. "I wanted it to be disturbing. And I bloomed the white in the grading so the skin tones are softer. It's a very grounded color palette."

Llewyn Davis

In "Llewyn Davis," Delbonnel equates sadness with lack of light. It's usually overcast, there's rarely bright sunlight and daylight comes and dies very fast in this strange musical odyssey."I try to be consistent all through the movie, so for me the rule on this one was to have the light falling off every time in the background. And then I can work with different colors or different moods."

Delbonnel shot on film, also not surprisingly, because it seemed most appropriate for the period and because of the grain structure of the Kodak stock. He used the iconic Gaslight Cafe as the chorus -- "dark, contrasty, almost colorless." In fact, the opening in which Davis beguiles with "Hang Me, Oh Hang Me" was the only time Delbonnel set a period look. "There is no credits so here we have to establish what the Gaslight was. It was in a basement and I wanted to do a Bohemian club, so I kept it really muted with the brick wall and different practicals.And the alleyway is very catchy as well where the mood and palette change."

By contrast, Davis' meeting with the imposing Bud Grossman (F. Murray Abraham) at the Gate of Horn in Chicago is grander and more mysterious."The scene's about failure," Delbonnel suggests. "He picks the wrong song ['The Death of Queen Jane'] but he's truthful to folk music and its roots. But nobody talks about his talent; they always talk about the other guy's talent. It's an underlying idea, which is very interesting. I shot F. Murray with a rim light so you barely see him and asked him not to move."

The cinematographer's favorite sequence is the road trip to Chicago with all the night driving, accompanied by John Goodman's cranky old jazz man and his taciturn driver. It's almost surreal. "It was hard and we shot on location in winter and we were low budget and didn't have a lot of equipment. But it's dark and strange and dreamy."

Talk about strange: the confusing fight in the alley that served as the catalyst underwent a lighting change after the rehearsal. "I wanted to light the guy with his hat and smoking his cigarette. But when I heard his strong voice, I realized it would ruin the mood completely, so I immediately decided to shoot him in silhouette. You only see the cigarette light and you hear his voice saying, 'You're a funny guy.' Then you only see his face before he punches him. I like the unexpected. It's cinema for me, which is about images and sound."

Now let's see if this unexpected New York state of mind will land the cinematographer his fourth Oscar nomination.


This article is related to: Inside Llewyn Davis, Immersed In Movies, Awards Season Roundup, Thompson on Hollywood, Interviews


E-Mail Updates