Lighting Up The Temple

This week, I wish to discuss the importance of lighting in a movie, as well as the Mise en scene (general scenes) created by a Cinematographer in the movies.  As an Example for scenes and how their lighting and placement changes the course of movies, I will be using the original Stargate movie:

Stargate Pic for Blog 12.12


This first clip shows us the scene in which Dr. Jackson explains to us how the Go’uld (MAJOR bad guys in the Stargate universe) came to look like humans.  The specific Goa’uld mentioned has named himself Ra, after the Egyptian sun god.  In this first clip, the characters of Dr. Jackson, Sha’uri  (pronounced Sha’re in the later Stargate SG-1 TV series), and Jack O’Neil  are treated with a traditional low key style of lighting.  With this technique, we are meant to believe that these three are inside a temple reading the story of Ra on it’s walls.  It is not merely the light coming off the props (the torches) the characters are carrying that creates the illusion of darker shadows than would normally appear in an indoor studio.  Even the first time I saw this movie, I couldn’t believe what a wonderful job Karl Walter did on this particular scene.  It’s pure genius!

Karl Walter helped continue this theme of firelight throughout the movie, as most of it is spent following the characters as they learn about the nature of the Goa’uld, the peoples of Abydos and the Stargate.  They are always inside and in hiding from Ra and his forces (the Jaffa).  We also start to see shifts in lighting as the story progresses, even through the 3 following Stargate TV series (SG-1, Atlantis, and Universe).  As the characters learn how to use the Stargate and other alien devices, the better lighted the characters become.    They become more enlightened (please pardon the pun) as we delve further into the Stargate Universe as a whole.

This second clip shows the demise of the bad guy (the Goa’uld formerly known as Ra) in this movie.  Before we even get to see the great ending to that character, we see 3 excellent examples of low key lighting in this scene.  When Dr. Jackson and Jack O’Neil are talking about a way to diffuse or use the bomb, we see the shadows that fall upon their face.  Once again, once the rings activate onboard the ship we see the character of Ra being highlighted with low  key lighting once again.  When Ra realizes the bomb will kill him, we see him being light up from within.  I know this was mostly done with CG, but the audience can clearly see that Karl Walter had the final say with his quick flash of high key lighting at the very end that washes the actor’s face out.  This made it easier for the guys doing the CG in the scene to do their jobs even better.


I firmly believe that if Karl Walter had not made the choices he had with the lighting in this movie, the audience would not have believed the scene as a whole.  If he had chosen to wash the actors out with light when they are supposed to be sharing dinner around a campfire, and downplay the lighting when they are fighting outside, then we would not have believed that the actors were in the place the director says they were.  The illusion, therefore, would have been destroyed.  Illusion of reality in films makes them worth watching 6 times in a year (and YES, I have watched it that many times so far this year).



“Stargate” Movie Clips.  Retrieved From and

Stargate Movie Credits.  (1994)  Retrieved From:

Snapfactory. “High Key & Low Key Lighting: Ep 42: Digital Photography 1 on 1.”  Retrieved From:

Ode to A Great Friendship

This is the first of many blogs for my Introduction To Film Class.  I’m taking.  For this week’s discussion into great films, I would like to discuss the Lord of the Rings trilogy.  More specifically, I would like to discuss “The Two Towers.”  This movie was released on December 18th, 2002.   It is based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic novel of the same name.  Fran Walsh has been the top credit of the screenplay (according to IMDB).  Peter Jackson also has a credit for writing the screenplay, but he has been wildly celebrated a success with his work as the director in the franchise.

The Key Players are As Follows:

Sean Astin Samwise ‘Sam’ Gamgee
Orlando Bloom Legolas Greenleaf
Bernard Hill Theoden
Christopher Lee Saruman the White
Ian McKellen Gandalf
Viggo Mortensen Aragorn
John Rhys-Davies Gimli / Voice of Treebeard
Andy Serkis Gollum
Liv Tyler Arwen
Karl Urban Eomer
Hugo Weaving Elrond
David Wenham Faramir
Elijah Wood Frodo Baggins


The Two Towers follows two hobbits as they have left the company of men, dwarves,  and elves as they are on their way to Mount Doom to destroy the main villain’s source of power, The One Ring.  We see lots of battles for Middle Earth.  Then there are many slower scenes where we get to know the two hobbits better.  One of the most favorite scene between the two is this scene between Sam and Frodo about not giving up in the face of great adversity.  Which is a great theme, if you ask me!





This movie does not always present itself chronologically.  There are times where we see flashback s to Gollum’s transformation into what he is.  We get to see shadows of how Frodo may become under the ring’s influence,  through the eyes of Gollum’s memories of what he did once he possessed it. 

Then there are times where we shift from those battle scenes to the more serious scenes between Frodo and Sam.  This aesthetic choice does leave an audience wondering what part of the classic story will be told next.  We are let to wonder whatever happened with the other part of the storyline.  The general setting Jackson chose made an interesting contrast between what is going on in his scenes,  and the world that Tolkien has created for us to read about (and further for Jackson to help portray on the screen).

If the film had not followed this non-linear style, it would have been completely against what the audience would have expected from this classic Tolkien story.  Those that had been strict fans would have rebelled, and then Jackson and Tolkien’s wonderful storylines, plots, and twists and turns would have gotten lost.  This movie franchise would also not have done as well as it did.



The Two Towers Movie Quotes.  Retrieved From:

The Two Towers Movie Stats.  Retrieved From:

Movie Footage (Courtesy of MagicalGirlGaming on youtube and) New Line Home Entertainment.  Retrieved From:

New Class, Right Up My Alley! :)

Hey everyone! If you notice a few more articles here discussing movies over the next few weeks, don’t be alarmed! I have a new class called Intro To Film that requires us to write a few blog entries about movies, etc. I’d say that fits in with what I do here, huh? Anyway, I’ll still be trying to update my normally scheduled program, as well as those class assignments as well. Wish me Luck! 🙂