Thursday, June 30, 2011

'Priest' (2011) - Atmosphere

Today InSight: Movies takes a little break from reviewing scripts and brings you something different. In this short article I want to open up the discussion about 'Atmosphere' in movies.

'Priest' (2011) is a perfect example to illustrate this topic: I found the story and characterization really underwhelming, but nonetheless I was captivated by the movie. Why is that?
The production design and sets of 'Priest' were really impressive for the moderate budget, depicting the futuristic timeline in which the movie played. Shots of the urban landscape contrasted with the wide and barren desert. The capable actors (especially Paul Bettany & Maggie Q) were able to refrain from corny over-acting, which grounded the whole film in reality (as far as this is possible in this genre). 

To sum it up: the whole movie had atmosphere! But what is atmosphere?
It is the feeling of being drawn into the movie; when rich visuals and design create a world in front of the viewer's eyes. Atmosphere means a coherent world that might be different from ours, either in time or place. Actors can create atmosphere (and easily destroy it). Perhaps it is the essence of movie making. As you can see, I can't point out a single factor in creating something like atmosphere. It is the synergy of many people doing what they love and this shows on the screen. This explains why some films have it - and some don't. You can not calculate something like movie atmosphere.

'Priest' is by far not a great movie, but the atmosphere created in this dystopian movie makes up for the lack of plot and thus creates an enjoyable film.

What atmospheres in a movie suprised you? How, in your opinion, can atmosphere be created?

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  1. hey, it's Tony from over at Beyond B-Movies....great review, you got a new follower!

  2. I had the same feeling about BOOK OF ELI, in terms of atmosphere....they put all this effort into making a movie look good, but the script was terrible. Why even bother?