Thursday 6 May 2010

Three Colours: Blood Red

Let The Right One In 2008 Sweden
Directed by Tomas Alfredson
Momentum DVD Region 2

Let The Right One In
Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
By Johan Söderqvist Moviescoremedia MM508022

Glad I finally caught up to the DVD release of this movie. Been a while since I saw it at the cinema and at that time I hadn’t had the benefit of having read the source novel by John Alvide Lindqvist, who also wrote the screenplay. Actually I read the novel last summer and I have to say that I’m glad I went into the movie blind. The novel was okay and the movie adaptation is not unlike the best of movie adaptations considering there were whole characters and subplots left out of the film version.

I actually prefer the movie in many respects and I think the writer and director were very wise in choosing to leave out the amount they did because, although I’m sure a lot of the excised material could have easily been accommodated in a two hour feature... you wouldn’t have been able to ramble along at the same pace that this movie has and that would have been very much to it’s detriment.

There are also things that are ever so slightly alluded to in the movie which you won’t necessarily pick up on unless you know the characters from the book and I’m pretty sure that this has been done to raise the commercial profile of the film and lessen risk at the box office more than anything else. Like the fact that as the burgeoning love affair between the twelve year old Oskar and Eli, the vampire “girl” who has been twelve years old for a great many years now, grows throughout the running time... it is not made clear that Eli is in fact a permanently young, castrated “boy” vampire who chooses to pass himself off as a girl. When Eli in the movie twice alludes that she’s “not a girl”, the general interpretation of that... with myself and the other people who I know have seen this film, is to think... no you’re not a girl, you’re a vampire. The sexual identity of the vampire is never really called into question but once you’ve read the novel these little passing references take on a more significant meaning.

It’s all pretty meaningless anyway because the film is an absolute treat for the senses. The film starts with a shot of snow so it had me right from the opening. I’m a sucker for good snow shots. But the framing and lighting and subdued colours and sheer elegance of the shot designs are nothing short of visually stunning... shot after shot after shot. They feel like they’ve been ripped ruthlessly from the lense of a Krzysztof Kieslowski movie like The Double Life of Veronique or one of his Three Colours trilogy and then delicately spliced into this little masterpiece. Alfredson is a director who’s not afraid to use long takes and to use medium and long shots as opposed to close ups to tell the story. Good for him. Characters can walk off frame or be out of focus or be seen as a reflection and the director never once flinches at going for the jugular when it comes to camera placement. The shots are deceptively simple and are just genuinely blinding. For example, there’s one where a dark green pastel room is framed by a red wall on the left and by a red chair and wall on the right... it sounds like something out of an Argento movie... but it’s closer in subtlety to something Andrei Tarkovsky or Hal Hartley or the aforementioned Krzysztof Kieslowski would have shot.

The score too, by Johan Söderqvist (which I’m listening to as I type) is a great achievement. At times subdued and spare but not afraid to swell up into a passage of orchestral beauty when the mood is called for. One of the most genuinely beautiful and intelligent scores of the last ten years. Definitely a treat for the ears and if moviescoremedia have any of their 500 limited edition CDs left, it’s worth checking out. Or you could always purchase it as a download from itunes if you are so inclined. Seriously worth a listen.

In many ways the score for this movie seems to perform the same kind of function that Zbigniew Preisner’s score used to produce for Kieslowski. And yeah, sorry to push the metaphor again but I think I’m going to have to go on record now as saying... to all fans of the genius of Polish cinema...seriously... if Krzysztof Kieslowski had ever deigned to address the subject matter of blood drinking vampires in one of his films... Let The Right One In is what it would have looked and felt like.

The UK DVD has a commentary track by both the director and the writer (who also wrote the novel). I haven’t the time to listen to this right now but you can bet that it’s worth listening to.

For anyone who is truly a fan of the art of cinema... this film will help you to remember why you fell in love with film in the first place.

1 comment:

  1. Yes and jolly good observations my friend. One of my favourites too!!!!