A Series of Unfortunate Events(2017)-
Having watched and absolutely loved Netflix’s new ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’, I thought it would be a great example of the comical yet creepy style of filming we could use in our storyboarding exercise. It looks fabulous…despite the terrible CGI (I’ll forgive them for that as a bad styling choice). The show reveals a morbidly frank and gothic twist on ordinary life; shown through the juxtaposition of dank and depressing backdrops against the bright clothing and pink cheeks of the Baudelaire children. Burton would be proud.
Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events | Official Trailer [HD] | Netflix. (2017). [online] YouTube. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tup-5yOcJuM [Accessed 19 Feb. 2017].
It is the character of Count Olaf that I think will be most useful in helping us to build our character. Played beautifully by Neil Patrick Harris, Count Olaf is selfish, sinister, and cruel in all the best/worst ways, he is totally in love with himself and prides himself as a renowned actoor. However at the same time, his performance is lovably naive and humorous; lulling the audience into a false sense of security. I think the same could be done with our ‘Riddle Man’ character, however in the reverse. Although portrayed as sinister and creepy, he is actually misunderstood and is softer than you think.
The dull grey surroundings often used in the show are exactly what I have in mind for the opening to our storyboard, contrasted against the vibrant or pastel colours of the riddle man.
Tim Burton, Corpse Bride(2005)-
Another great example of the style I am looking for is Tim Burton. Tim Burton used the element of chiaroscuro a lot in his films, showing the contrast of light and dark features. He was influenced by the German Expressionism movement in the 20s, as well as by the work of Dr Seuss. Nofilmschool.com said ‘Experiencing his brand of cinema is a lot like walking into an abandoned amusement park, or a haunted carnival, or a nightmarish circus—it’s entertaining—and even endearing at times, but it’s also extremely dark and deeply disturbing‘. It is this macabre humour that I am hoping to capture in our storyboards.
Illusion Magazine-explains Burton’s use of camera extremely well. ‘There is a lot of camera movement in the films of Tim Burton. It is used expressively and the effect is pure mastery of cinematic craft. The camera is often attached to a dolly, a crane, sometimes even a helicopter, or the traditional Steadicam device. Sometimes, it feels like one is on a rollercoaster or ghost train. One of the signature Burton camera moves is the high-angled tracking shot that glides and weaves. It is employed to show off the sets and achieve the maximum cinematic potential of the imagery. Examples of this camera aesthetic can be seen in every single film. Burton especially deploys the high-angled roaming camera in his opening credits sequences.’
The common theme here is German Expressionism. German Expressionism is a film and art movement that emphasizes on the expression of inner thoughts or emotions through the control of stylistic elements. The film movement, having born directly under the influence of German’s defeat during World War I, was an expressive form used to describe the mentality of a defeated nation stricken with poverty and anger.
German Expressionist films are therefore notable for their dark themes of insanity, horror, death and fatality that translate prevalently into the film’s mise-en-scene and narrative. It counters the principle of realism and practises extreme distortion as means to communicate inner emotional reality.
Another similar and equally interesting artist and director is Jean-Pierre Jeunet-
Director of Amelie, Delicatessen, Alien Resurrection and The Young and Prodigious. Funnily enough, the plot of Delicatessen seems very similar to another Tim Burton adaptation, ‘Sweeny Todd’. A melancholy comedy set in a famine-plagued post-apocalyptic world, in which an apartment building above a delicatessen is ruled by a butcher who kills people in order to feed his tenants.