Thursday, August 19, 2021

Two New Audiovisual Essays

"Berlin Alexanderplatz" in one word. For the TV Dictionary Collection by Ariel Avissar: TV Dictionary Collection

Switching channels between definitions in English (Merriam-Webster / Collins Dictionary) and German (Duden). 

For study purposes only. 

All excerpts taken from Rainer Werner Fassbinders 1980 TV series BERLIN ALEXANDERPLATZ (A FILM IN 13 PARTS AND AN EPILOGUE).

Colored Lighting in PARIAH from Oswald Iten on Vimeo.

"We weren't about notions of 'real time' so we became mainly concerned with levels of impressionism in our visual style. Basically, how far could we go with coloring characters and spaces before it started to become distracting and take away from the narrative?" Bradford Young on PARIAH

When it was released in 2011, Dee Rees’ debut feature PARIAH was ground-breaking and inspiring in many ways. Even ten years later, the thoroughness with which the inner journey of protagonist Alike is expressed via colored lighting remains quite unique. According to several interviews, the striking color concept of PARIAH was devised by Rees and Bradford Young. Heavily influenced by Haile Gerima and cinematographers like Arthur Jafa, Ernest Dickerson or Malik Hassan Sayeed, Young is not only one of the most interesting cinematographers of our time but also an important voice in the ongoing conversation about how to represent and photograph people of color on screen.

In this experimental visual analysis, I am exploring the "levels of impressionism" (Young) in the lighting of Alike’s face. Inevitably, it has also turned into a celebration of Adepero Oduye's remarkable performance in this very specific but universally relatable piece of cinema.

00:00 Atmosphere
00:50 Chameleon: Painted by the Colors Around Her
01:24 From Darkness to Light
02:08 Contrasting Color vs Blending In
02:43 God Doesn't Make Mistakes
03:32 Butterfly: Life is Possible

Cinematography: Bradford Young
Gaffer: T.J. Alston
DI Colorist: Joe Gawler

While all the visual clips are from PARIAH (Blu-ray Focus Features Spotlight Series 2012), the music consists of excerpts from several compositions by Tamar-Kali who appeared in the film (representing the influence of Alike’s friend Bina) and went on to score the director’s later film MUDBOUND (2017).
- Pearl (Psychochamber Version) 2009
- MUDBOUND (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) 2017

There are a couple of interviews with Young and Rees that go into more detail about their approach to color, e.g. the interview linked at the top or the following:
If you are interested in more behind the scenes material, there is a great interview with the cast and crew online (Academy Museum, 2021):