COOL STUFF

A Look Back: The Iconic Cinematography of Douglas Slocombe

by
May 20, 2008
Source: FXRant

The Iconic Cinematography of Douglas Slocombe

One of the many brilliant aspects of the original three Indiana Jones films is their cinematography. Shot by the now 95-years-old Douglas Slocombe, the cinematography in Raiders, Doom, and Crusade is at the same time both gorgeous and gritty enough to produce a classic B-movie feeling. Slocombe was actually nominated for an Oscar in 1982 for Raiders of the Lost Ark, but ended up losing to Reds. Inspired by two great posts over at FXRant, I thought we'd take a look back at the iconic work of Slocombe in the original three Indiana Jones films. In retrospect, it definitely was the cinematography that truly turned Jones and his fedora into the iconic hero that he is today!

We'll save the best for last and start with Slocombe's focus on eyes. Of course, this is primarily a creative collaboration between Steven Spielberg and Slocombe that produced such beautiful imagery, so let's not forget to mention both of them. All of the shots below are from Raiders of the Lost Ark, courtesy of the guys over at FXRant, where you can see a few more great shots as well.

Raiders of the Lost Ark - Eyes

Raiders of the Lost Ark - Eyes

Raiders of the Lost Ark - Eyes

Raiders of the Lost Ark - Eyes

As a photographer myself, I've been taught that when shooting faces, the eyes should always be in focus the most. When the eyes are in the focus, the rest of the face becomes more defined and yet you can still fully feel their emotions. Just looking at this set of four photos above, you can easily see that Slocombe masterfully captured that emotion in many scenes like these.

Following eyes, we'll focus on Slocombe's fantastic use of shadows and silhouettes next. When I think of Indiana Jones, it's these scenes and these images below that come to mind the most. The imagery he has created here by using shadows and silhouettes is some of the most unforgettable and visually appealing work to ever be found in an action movie. I really don't know how Slocombe didn't win the Oscar, but I know he definitely deserved it for working with Spielberg to create such iconic visuals. All of the shots below are from Raiders of the Lost Ark, courtesy of the guys over at FXRant, where you can see a few more great shots as well.

Raiders of the Lost Ark - Shadows and Silhouettes

Raiders of the Lost Ark - Shadows and Silhouettes

Raiders of the Lost Ark - Shadows and Silhouettes

Raiders of the Lost Ark - Shadows and Silhouettes

Lastly, as a special treat, inspired again by the guys at FXRant, we'll include a few more brilliant Raiders of the Lost Ark shots. Just browsing over these images has reminded me again not only why I love Indiana Jones so much, but just how well-made the three original films truly were. I think by now no one will dispute their brilliance, especially when it comes to cinematography and the visuals, which is definitely a relief. If you need any more encouragement to start getting excited for Kingdom of a Crystal Skull, just take a look at the last seven images below. I'm sure you'll be reminded again just how fun and just how entertaining the Indiana Jones series is!

Raiders of the Lost Ark

Raiders of the Lost Ark

Raiders of the Lost Ark

Raiders of the Lost Ark

Raiders of the Lost Ark

Raiders of the Lost Ark

Raiders of the Lost Ark

Thanks again to FXRant for the inspiration and great images. This article is part of our Indiana Jones Week special feature in anticipation of the release of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull this Thursday.

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  • Heckle
    nice shots. Cant wait for tomorrow.
  • We named the Cinematographer Indiana
    The I's have it. If this film doesn't have some of that Slocombe magic, we're all Temple of Doom'ed.
  • Dan
    The fourth shot in the "eyes" segment is one of my favorites in all of film. For anyone who didn't recognize it right away, it is the "reveal" shot during the basket chase scene. The camera starts fixed at the end of an alleyway, and Indy runs right up to it until you get the eyeline from the photo, then the camera starts to move back and around Indy to reveal that he no longer has one basket to worry about. Completely unnecessary shot for an action movie, but it added so much. There are tons of things like this throughout the trilogy that cement all three of them for me as cinematic masterpieces.
  • avoidz
    Janusz Kaminski is no Douglas Slocombe. The reviews coming in so far of IV have been depressingly underwhelming.
  • Great post, thanks for this. What a contrast to Kaminski's glowy style on "Crystal Skull." I linked over from my site here: http://www.pupntaco.com/?p=160
  • Jont
    amazing post one thing id like to point out that i think helped garner this attention is the fact that i think speilberg is the pre-vis king ever since i started paying attention to story boarding and what not i especially watch the original jones movies and think, "man wouldnt that make a great story board or shit that looks like they took it right off a story board"

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