Shooting a Stagecoach

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After watching Stagecoach, I have to say one thing about their cinematography…They LOVED huge vistas. Seriously, almost every shot outside of a town included some sort of epic background. I don’t know if it was meant to show the harsh, tough, emptiness of the land that the protagonists of the movie had to endure, or if it was meant to be a contrast between the beauty of the land and the dangers it poses (in this movie’s case, mostly Indians), but it was certainly present. It certainly often made man look sort of minuscule in comparison too, which often fits in with the theme of the west being untamed.

Another thing I noticed was that it often used the rule of thirds (one of the only things about cinematography that I know) to further illustrate this point. In the top left picture, there is empty desert in the bottom third, the stagecoach in the middle, and sky in the upper. In the top right, the left and right sides of the coach, in a near perfect line, are again empty desert while the middle is taken up by the coach and the road. You can see similar effects in the bottom two photos, all of which serve to emphasize the emptiness.

Finally, the American cavalry were shown in a very controlled, almost regal way every time they appeared. Straight shouldered and clean, keeping poised throughout their charge, while the Indians were shown as wild and almost frenzy-ing. It just sort of shows mindsets of the time and a certain jingoism.

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