Cinematographer`s Expression in Films

Categories: FilmFilm Analysis


Cinematography is defined as the art of making motion pictures. Cinematography includes camera shots, camera angles, camera movement and lighting. Each film’s cinematographer creates the images that viewers see on screen, manipulating their elements to establish a unified and memorable design (Prince, 2013). I will be reflecting on Smashing UK Production’s Top 10 Film Cinematography and how they described most films on their list. Further understanding the use of anamorphic widescreen and why cinematographers chose this. I will be including which film is my personal favorite film cinematography and how, as a viewer, it captured my eye.

I will also include how filmmakers express meaning through cinematography and how viewers understand these meanings.

Keywords: Cinematography, anamorphic widescreen, widescreen ratio, contrast, computer- generated images, digital domain, contrast, gray scale.

Cinematography Filmmakers express meaning through cinematography to visually symbolize the thematic content of the scene or film. The cinematographer helps the director to achieve a desired visual design by using the camera to capture images that reflect the director’s visual goals for the film (Prince, 2013).

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Smashing UK productions lists their top ten uses of cinematography and film. Their list beginning from their last top ten pick includes; Oblivion, Lawrence of Arabia, The Night of the Hunter, Skyfall, Taxi Driver, Life of Pi, Citizen Kane, Apocalypse Now, Inception, and in first place, Road to Perdition. Each of these films have carefully chosen film stock, aspect radio, controls, and designs the use of light and color. Each cinematographer must carefully plan and place the camera in particular setups that will further help capture what the director has envisioned for the film.

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Words or phrases constantly used in Smashing UK’s productions of Top 10 Film Cinematography were amazing, best, or outstanding cinematography. Although not really in depth and more right to the point of how these viewers feel about the films, I believe that’s how most viewers would describe these films. Us as viewers watch a film such as Inception and are immediately manipulated by Pfister emotionally through light, dark, colors, and composition ( 2013). The use of light and dark colors help manipulates how the viewer feels. Director of Inception, Christopher Nolan, often films in anamorphic widescreen. Anamorphic widescreen is a (2.35:1) widescreen ratio used to isolate the main character from its surroundings. Phantom of the Opera (2004) also was shot in anamorphic widescreen. The filmmakers liked the way the anamorphic lenses handled candlelight, which was constantly Productions, S. U., featured in many scenes (Prince, 2012).

Although not listed on Smashing UK Productions Top 10 Film Cinematography, I know my mood changed when watching the Phantom of the Opera because of the lighting and contrasts used, this effect gave me a more depressing feel and had a mysterious effect. These specific lighting setups create either a hard or a soft look. The filmmakers make the viewer feel a certain emotion of psychological moods through lighting setups. For example, if in a film someone is in a dark room and the viewer can’t see anything but shadows, they tend to feel anxious or scared. If the room was brightly lit up, the viewer wouldn’t feel the same emotions.

A film that stood out to me was The Night of The Hunter, which is a 1950’s doc thriller with black and white cinematography. Black-and-white films see only degrees of whiteness, ranging from white to black through intermediate shades of gray is a spectrum known as the gray scale. According to the text, light and color are the tools of the cinematographer’s art (Prince, 2012). Films in black-and-white give a harsh look to the film. Films on the gray scale make it harder to find which costumes or background colors must be avoided during filming. In order to create an exceptional black-and-white film, cinematographers must know which different colors with a gray-scale value will or will not blend together on screen.

Out of Smashing UK Productions Top 10 Film Cinematography, my favorite film because of its cinematography is Life of Pi, whose famous cinematographer is Claudio Miranda. A film that required heavy use of computer-generated images, it’s amazing that Miranda was able to orchestrate such beautiful shots without the use of practical locations ( , 2013). Life of Pi is the definition of cinematography and the digital domain. It was truly amazing to see how the cinematographer intersected the work of computer-effects artists to create this film. It’s interesting to see how a cinematographer could capture much of the film that didn’t exist in Productions, S. U.reality. Life of Pi was extremely colorful and had an outstanding visual experience that makes you re-think how something from the work of CGI could look so real.


  • Upper Saddle River, NJ: 1. 2. Prince, S. (2013). Movies and meaning: An introduction to film.
  • Pearson Education. Film Cinematography. Retrieved January Productions, S. U. (2013, August26).
  • TOP 10 | 29, 2018, from

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Cinematographer`s Expression in Films. (2021, Sep 17). Retrieved from

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