August 20, 2012

Gordon Willis' New York: KLUTE

DP Gordon Willis (left) with director Alan J Pakula

When we talk of Gordon Willis collaborations, everyone focuses on Woody Allen and Francis Ford Coppola. I mean, why wouldn't they? The Godfather films? Woody's greatest films (Manhattan, The Purple Rose of Cairo) of his greatest decade (1980s)? These are tough creds to ignore.

That Willis' collaboration with Alan J. Pakula (Klute, The Parallax View, All The President's Men) is only his third most notable contribution to American cinema, speaks to the absurd high quality of the man's work and his seminal impact on filmmaking.

All three films deal with paranoia, surveillance and the espionage-as-commonplace themes prevalent during the Nixon years. The message: You Are Being Watched. Who better than Willis, the master of the artistic establishing shot, to capture the individual in the everyday?

Klute is the most formally obscure of the three films. Pakula/Willis shot behind objects in the foreground, between bars, from behind windows. POV is stationary, constant, omnipotent. You are just a figure in the background. We see all.

1 comment:

  1. god I love this film. when I had it as MQotD you couldn't see anything: