Steven Soderbergh recovers 1940s-era moviemaking techniques to film his postwar noir The Good German.
By reproducing the conditions of an actual studio shoot from the late 1940s, he hoped to enter the mind of a filmmaker like [Michael] Curtiz, to explore the strengths and limitations of a classical style that has now largely been lost.
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If there is a single word that sums up the difference between filmmaking at the middle of the 20th century and the filmmaking of today, it is “coverage.” Derived from television, it refers to the increasingly common practice of using multiple cameras for a scene (just as television would cover a football game) and having the actors run through a complete sequence in a few different registers. The lighting tends to be bright and diffused, without shadows, which makes it easier for the different cameras to capture matching images.
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“That kind of staging is a lost art,” Mr. Soderbergh said, “which is too bad. The reason they no longer work that way is because it means making choices, real choices, and sticking to them. It means shooting things in a way that basically only cut together in one order. That’s not what people do now. They want all the options they can get in the editing room.”