Video Essays: Quentin Tarantino and Jonathan Demme’s Use of Close-Ups

Jacob T. Swinney, who brought us that fascinating side-by-side video essay recently, is back with a pair of videos examining the close-up work of Quentin Tarantino and Jonathan Demme.

He opens his examination of Demme’s work in an accompanying written essay at indieWire writing, “The close-up may be one of the most beautiful and conventional shots in cinema. The shot is used abundantly and is usually one of the first concepts discussed in a filmmaking course.”

As for the difference he finds in Demme’s work, which includes the likes of The Silence of the LambsPhiladelphia and Something Wild, he writes, “Demme prefers to line up his characters in the center of the frame and have them look directly into the lens of the camera. As the scene cuts back and forth, the characters usually match placement and seem to be looking right at us, conveying a unique sense of urgency or poignancy.”

The second video looks at Tarantino’s use of the extreme close-up of which Swinney writes, “Quentin Tarantino is the master of the extreme close up and utilizes the technique for a variety of reasons. The shots are often used to convey the gravity of a particular situation or the manipulative strength of a character’s vice. Some express power, some express weakness, and others just simply look cool. Here is a look at Tarantino’s masterful use of the extreme close up throughout his feature film career.”


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