Combat cinematography: interpreting the cinematographic form of combat realism

Edited book (chapter)


Maddock, Daniel. 2019. "Combat cinematography: interpreting the cinematographic form of combat realism." Kerby, Martin, Baguley, Margaret and McDonald, Janet (ed.) The Palgrave handbook of artistic and cultural responses to war since 1914: the British Isles, the United States and Australasia. Cham, Switzerland. Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 447-465
Chapter Title

Combat cinematography: interpreting the cinematographic form of combat realism

Book Chapter CategoryEdited book (chapter)
ERA Publisher ID2865
Book TitleThe Palgrave handbook of artistic and cultural responses to war since 1914: the British Isles, the United States and Australasia
Authors
AuthorMaddock, Daniel
EditorsKerby, Martin, Baguley, Margaret and McDonald, Janet
Page Range447-465
Chapter Number25
Number of Pages19
Year2019
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Place of PublicationCham, Switzerland
ISBN9783319969855
9783319969862
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-96986-2_25
Web Address (URL)https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-96986-2_25
Abstract

Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan (1998) was widely reported as the most realistic depiction of battle ever captured on screen with the New York Times calling its cinematography ‘reportorial candor’ while famous critic Roger Ebert wrote of its ‘newsreel feel.’ Spielberg won an Oscar for Best Direction for his efforts and, in 2014, the film was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, being deemed ‘culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant.’ Spielberg’s cinematographer, Janusz Kamiński, ASC, created a new cinematographic form for Saving Private Ryan which came to define the look of the combat film genre. This chapter discusses the construct of ‘realism’ in Saving Private Ryan’s cinematography, exploring its roots in combat newsreels and photography. The authenticity of the look of the most famous combat photography and films is then debated. Following this, the chapter examines the cinematographic form of Saving Private Ryan qualifying it using Mark Cousins’ methodology of ‘schema-plus-variation’ through cinematic language and applying it to an exploration of techniques that define visual authenticity in cinema thereby qualifying Kamiński’s cinematography as existing between the ideologies of verisimilitude and impressionism.

Keywordscinematography, combat, cinematographic style, cinematographic Form
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020360501. Cinema studies
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Byline AffiliationsSchool of Arts and Communication
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
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