190 Amadeus

190 Amadeus - Andrew Soliman Professor Casper ID...

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Andrew Soliman Professor Casper ID #3189229159 Marika Piday-Warren CTCS - 190 Why is the yellow brick road yellow? Why does Inception have such low-key lighting? Why is E.T. brown? Although these minor details may seem random or unimportant, they all lend themselves to the larger filmic concept known as visual design. Visual design is used as a means by which aspects of an image can convey meaning to the audience. In the film Amadeus , director Milos Forman utilizes visual design to convey an estrangement between his characters and the pervading themes of the film, religion and sanity. He does so by mirroring this estrangement with a gradual shift in visual design throughout the film. Forman, along with his cinematographer Miroslav Ondrícek and others, carefully manipulate the lighting, costumes, and makeup, in order to communicate the mood, characterization, and themes of the film to the audience. Throughout the film, there was a general shift from high key lighting to low key lighting that mirrored Salieri’s steady distancing from religion, as well as the greater thematic trend of his story. In the opening of Salieri’s story, a majority of the scenes are shot with high key lighting, reflecting the young composer’s optimism and jubilance. This is evident in the scene just after his father’s death when Salieri is sitting at the piano with emperor Joseph, describing his good fortune. The lighting is direct, soft, and high key, making the scene appear pleasant, even perfect. The pleasant high key lighting in this scene is representative of Salieri’s devoted relationship with God at this point in his story. As the film progresses, however, the lighting becomes lower
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key and harsher, mirroring Salieri’s gradual shift away from God, as Mozart becomes more popular, and he, less. When Mozart’s wife Constanze comes to Salieri’s home at night, with the intent to sleep with him, the lighting is much lower key than any of the previous scenes, but it is still soft. Just after this scene, we see Salieri denounce God for the first time, and he throws the crucifix into the fire. Note that in this scene, the key light is lower than ever, and a single candle lights the whole scene. Perhaps the most striking use of low-key lighting in the film is in the climactic scene in which Salieri sits at the foot of Mozart’s bed, just before his death, and together they compose the Requiem Mass. Salieri has turned away from God, and is killing Mozart to spite him for ignoring his supplications. This is by far the darkest scene in the film; the whole room is lit by the candelabra Salieri holds in his hand. The placement of the light source to the side of Salieri’s face schizoids him, making him appear sinister. This lighting technique is
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190 Amadeus - Andrew Soliman Professor Casper ID...

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