Three good examples of the rule of thirds being applied.
In Heaven’s Gate ( Top ), we see the panaramic view of the lake with the two loving characters appreciating the vista in the bottom right hand third of the frame. A shot that symbolises the director of photography Vimos Zsigmond eye for breathtaking framing. Again, Zsigmond is responsible for The Deer Hunter, centre pic. Framing in mid-close up with Robert De Niro’s character Mike forced to play Russian roulette ( ironically at gunpoint ) to the left third with his captor facing him from the right third. Allowing the centre ground to show the threat of one of the captor’s AK-47 barrel and in the background with the picture of Ho Chi Minh ( political leader of North Vietnam ) looking on. A frame that captures many emotive points.
The bottom pic is the iconic framing from The Exorcist, a shot that was used as the advertising image for the movie’s posters, billboards and subsequent video covers. Max Von Sydow arrives at the house of the alleged possession to begin the exorcism. Its late autumn and the foggy weather adds a brooding atmosphere. A light beams from the bedroom window of the distressed young girl, onto the stranger that has arrived, beckoning him inside. Dark blue hues and plenty of shadow, a sinister invitation.
As used in my previous exercise for mise en scene, here is the same scene from Blood Simple. The characters face each other over an office desk, and the two balanced frames indicating Marty in the left hand third of his frame, and the Hitman in the right hand third of his frame gives a clear balance to allow the viewer to engage the important conversation between the two characters.
The scene in Close Encounters of the Third Kind shows the alien space craft landing above the human reception. The frame is almost symmetrical, with the landing underbelly of the craft being the focal point of the scene, brightly lit at the centre top of the frame. Although still in conjunction with the rule of thirds, it is almost seen as central to the frame. I picked this sequence to show a fantastic depth of field as the long shadows gives the impression of depth. It is an extremely hypnotising sequence, both in visual and audial structure.
R Lee Ermey as Gunnary Sergeant Hartman in Full Metal Jacket, the movie’s pivotal and most powerful character. Central to the frame and the film, all other characters are reduced to insignificance, as that is the desire of the sergeant and the organisation he represents. There are multiple frames similar to this throughout the first half of the movie, as the imposing drill instructor breaks down every character’s resistance and individuality. This is effective powerfully, as upon watching these scenes, the audience is almost dragged into the line of men, almost broken down to accept the terrifying ethos of the United States Marine Corps’ doctrine. When we reach the second half of the film, we totally empathise in the soul-less hell that the war zone dictates. The troops are mere numbers, their characters irrelevant, whatever different backgrounds they have. Even though we can differenciate the personalities of individuals in the platoon, they mean nothing to the war effort.