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September 1998, Week 2


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Donald Larsson <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Mon, 14 Sep 1998 08:37:14 -0500
TEXT/PLAIN (43 lines)
Scott Hutchins wonders:
> The other day I purchased the soundtrack for _The Thin Blue Line_, and I
> noticed that it listed a production designer among the credits.  I was
> wondering how someone could be a production desginer on this sort of film
> which uses all real-life sets, buildings, etc, just as they are in life,
> save for how Morris shows them.  Would it be a token/union mandate job in
> this case?
I'm not particularly a specialist in this area, let alone this one
film, but two points occur to me:
1) In the case of the interviews with the various (living) people still
involved, the camera placement and lighting (as well as the choice of
locations--aside from a jail) might well involve the input of others
than the director, cinematographer, etc.  Consider too the shots of the
Dallas night skyline, etc. If the production designer guides the
overall "look" of the film, these are as much factors as building a set
or stitching a costume; and the style of the interviews is itself
nearly as unnerving as other aspects of the film (q.v., below);
2)much more obviously, in the case of TTBL especially, the claim that
Morris uses "all real-life sets, buildings, etc, just as they are in
life" is a vast overstatement!  Look at those endless restagings of the
shootings, with the car, the milkshake cup, etc. taken from so many
different angles, with such obviously stylized effects of lighting and
setting!  Here the hand of the P.D. has to be very obvious indeed!  One
might also suspect contributions in the use of various kinds of
documentary "evidence" from news headlines to clips from Boston Blackie
films, etc., etc.
If ever a documentary showed evidence of design, this is it!
Don Larsson
Donald Larsson, Mankato State U (MN)
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