🎬 #80 The Un-Iconic Images.
There are certain images from across film that bubble up to the surface of our collective imaginations again and again. What makes an image more or less likely to stick in our minds? How do they remain potent despite how many new images are created and seen all the time? What about images that stick in our mind that aren’t necessarily the iconic ones that everyone else remembers?
This week there are two images from two films that’ll always stick in my mind, that aren’t the ones typically associated with the film.
Happy choosing, happy viewing and stick some different images in your mind.
FILM ONE: PSYCHO
1960 Dir Alfred Hitchcock
Hitchcock might be the most prolific ‘image maker’ in cinema history. So many of his films have fistfuls of memorable, iconic images associated with them. Psycho is no different. The image above is just one of the many that might pop into your mind when you think of the film. But the one that always comes to my mind is later in this famous sequence. The frame below.
Sounds quite naive to say but there’s something about this frame that is graphic in a way I’d never associated with a film from the 60’s when I first saw the film. There is a finality and hopeless quality to the frame that felt startling to me. You might think that films from this period might have someone die in a more overtly theatrical way. But in this frame we have an awkward, realistic, naked slump to a wet bathroom floor. Plus the dignity-less death of a pretty big movie star at the time [Janet Leigh] and all of this comes together to make this the image that stays in my mind. This for me is what made Psycho really punk rock.
TL;DR Hitchcock’s Psycho was astoundingly radical and its powerful imagery remains cemented firmly in our minds.
*Available for a small rental fee on Amazon, Apple, Google and YouTube in the US and the UK.
Fact: Hitchcock intended to play the shower scene without any score but Hermann insister he try what he had done. Hitchcock agreed it intensified the scene immensely and doubled Herrmann’s salary.
FILM TWO: APOCALYPSE NOW
1979 Dir Francis Ford Coppola
Apocalypse Now is brimming with so many iconic moments that they’ve been imitated, parodied and homaged to the nth degree. Like the image above or the Ride of the Valkyries sequence or Lt. Kilgore crouching down proclaiming his love of certain smells - this is a film built from iconic imagery and sound. There are so many that stick out, but the frame below, which actually opens the film is the one I think of most.
A beautiful thick green slice of the jungle - natural, wild and untouched. That is until a rain of napalm explodes through it, replacing green with its enemy - firey red. Natural, organic matter confronted with its chemical man-made foe. This for me is an iconic image that says a lot about the themes in the film.
TL;DR Take another look at Coppola's masterpiece with fresh eyes and discover images you’d never considered before.
*Available for a small rental fee on Sky Store and BFI player in the UK but not available in the US unfortunately.
Fact: This opening of this shot was never intended to be used. It was just an angle set-up to cover an explosion that was meant to be used later in the film. But Coppola decided to use the beginning of the shot to open the film.
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