Recently I've been on a few trips for the holidays, and during them, I was able to watch a few unusual but highly acclaimed films. Among them, the most important to cinema was The Insider, and here's what I learned from it:
Right off the bat, I noticed it's clear visual storytelling technique. There was little to no dialogue at all throughout the film's shots, and the relatively few lines in each scene all had some meaning. Its visual quality was created through colors (achieved by light), camera work, and almost total perfectionism over details.
- The lighting at times felt odd, but the hardness of most of it suited the suspenseful and uncertain theme of it all. The harsh light at the beginning of this beautiful scene, expresses a lot that words simply can't:
- The camera work was what drove the entire story, though, through its unstable or stable nature, or through its position and lens choice. Notice how in the scene presented above, the intensity and desperation of Wigand are also manifested in the handheld camera shakiness, as well as its slight stillness and the way it backs off when the scene calms down. The movement and the perspective in the shots are what defined "power play" as well, and the entire movie was based on the power play between Wigand and every other character. The camera set who was in charge during a scene. Either by making one of the characters look bigger by using more focused close-ups, and giving the other a wide angle (which provides an impression of long distances, as it distorts the z-axis), or by using a common difference in height (as if the audience were looking down at the characters).
On the subject of power play, the camera was not the only thing that controlled the scene. Background characters and objects were thoroughly used. Such as the scene where Wigand meets the tobacco industry boss (played by Michael Gambon) and gets out-powered by the boss' desk, lines and attorneys who surround Wigand. Apparently, you do not want to mess with that guy. Otherwise, he might kill your whole family. The only thing it took to give the boss power, were the details of his location, which leads me to the third point.
- Noticeably, every detail was directed and controlled. From the people walking to the paintings on a wall. Each detail was hinting at a future event or matching a defined theme throughout the movie.
This movie, though confusing at first, had a very different way of introducing the characters, clearly showing who they are and what they stand for in the story. Wigand's life at first is lit with a pleasant orange tone, which slowly turns into a dark, desperate blue after he gets fired. This change indirectly defined his anxious and impulsive personality.
Some of Mike Wallace's first words, addressed to a dangerous al-Qaeda-ish group leader were "So, are you a terrorist?" This edgy question defines his character as a brave person who has aged and wishes to do anything for a proper name in the afterlife.
Finally, Lowell, the real main character of the story (since everything is seen from his perspective, and he's the one that uncovers the new information shown to the audience), is defined from the start as a leadership figure. As the terrorist leader is telling him what to do, he turns the cards and takes control, or so he thinks. When he takes the blindfold off, the house is abandoned, and he was talking to himself.
As an extra, I'd love to note how the creators broke several rules (such as the 180) in proper ways that served the story in several places. In other words, they mastered the rules and therefore broke them in a way that worked.
In general, the movie was a masterpiece in control and directing. It had proper dominion over perspective, camera motion, detail, character development, standard cinema rules and more importantly the emotions in the audience. The irrevocable and prevalent suspense in the film. Throughout it, a simple analysis of any scene will create thousands of theories and conclusions, and in the end, that shows the amount of thought that went into the film.