I happened to catch”The Longest Day,” on TV yesterday. For those of you that don’t know, it’s a movie from the early sixties about the events of D-day. (Staring The Duke!)
Towards the middle of the movie, there’s this scene. There’s no POV character. No faces or personalities. The camera never zooms in, just pans high overhead, following the action. There’s no dramatic music—only gunfire, bombs and shouting. Just a bunch of unidentifiable bodies, leapfrogging from building to building as dusty explosions blow apart the environment. Bullets kick up dust. People fall down. More people move. Boom. Tap tap tap. Rinse and repeat for a few minutes.
The effect was amazing.
Current movies use similar camera techniques, but they add too much fluff. Determined, dirty faces. Orchestrated music. Blur filters. Multi-angled shots where we see the hero slamming into the side of the building, shrapnel spraying from the facade, biting his face. People clutching their wounds—muted screams.
All of that effort for a sub-par experience. It doesn’t show the bedlam and pandemonium of battle. We don’t see the whole picture.
There’s too many distractions.
Too much eye candy.
Strip it all. Show more with less. Take the essentials, murder everything else. Use enough to create a base image and tone, let the viewer/reader fill in the blanks.
Their brain will paint a clearer picture if you stop stabbing your brush into their skull.