‘Black Panther’ (2018) is a film that has had so much media attention before, during and after its release. Even now, the movie is still a huge part of the film conversation and it breaks the barrier of the MCU, too. This edition between JRF and Against the Backdrop is going to be over three instalments as let’s be honest, there is not enough time in the day to talk about the entire film on one article.
What I love about ‘Black Panther’ is not perhaps the film itself, and don’t get me wrong, it’s a very good film. Instead, I love everything it has inspired and how it has caused positively solely through the connotations it generates, let alone the impact of the film on Hollywood, and the rest of the world. A film like this needed to happen; it happened, and it did even better than anyone could have ever known.
Reiterating what Jack has said, I agree. What makes films the beautiful art that it is; is when they challenge the status quo. I remember seeing the trailer for this film, and instantly being encapsulated in what was in front of me. Normally, my role within this collaboration is to analyse the shots or stills from a film, but I just can’t help but extend my narrative in crediting this film. The acting, the scenery, the accompanying soundtrack, the whole film. AMAZING.
When I talk about loving this film, it’s not just insanely good acting from both Chadwick Boseman and Michael B. Jordan throughout; it’s the colours, the vibrancy, the powerful message displayed throughout. I want to talk about the picture above and how perfectly it sums up the film and the film’s message. On face value, the image shows three people in very awesome clothes. Look deeper and we see the colours coming through. The red, black and green in that order are significant on a larger scale. This is perhaps one of the most subtle references in the film that carries so much weight. The reference of this is that this set of colours and in this order represents the Pan-Africa flag. The flag itself consists of these three colours all in stripes across, all of equal length and, on so many levels, is perhaps one of the most meaningful flags around.
THIS. IS. BEAUTIFUL.
I wholeheartedly mean that. The subtlety of this is even more incredible when analysing the significance of their outfits, I just love it.
First, let’s talk position. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE how this shot was taken. There is no better way of demonstrating power and dominance than positioning the camera below the subjects. Using this technique is a fantastic way to demonstrate this – and for deserving characters. Then, we look at the positioning of them, the way their bodies are held, the hand on the balcony, the heads held high – it just screams power and demands respect.
On another note, we see the three all stood above a golden rail and gate. Whether this was intentional or not (I don’t know), I just can’t help but think that this is another subtle reference to Africa’s history and the continent’s importance to the world. Africa is a continent rich with natural resources such as gold and diamond, both are obviously very valuable across the planet, and this still shows that Africa is above the gold, having more beautiful and valuable (if not priceless) things to offer and share with the world. Saying that this is the case would infer that the film is trying to portray the message that there are more than these riches, and we could be talking about vibranium. Vibranium is at its home in Wakanda and by the end of the film, Wakanda (led by King T’challa) is opening-up its resources to the rest of the world rather than remaining an isolated state. Ultimately, I may be a million miles off, but this certainly seems feasible in the tone of the film and the ultimate message. It just fits in perfectly with the film and, even if I’m wrong on this one, there is always a deeper message behind things.
Next up. Colour. There is something truly beautiful about this shot. The colour pallet really compliments the scene and the characters well and hence the title for part one of this trilogy of blogs. In particular, the golden coloured balcony catches my eye - Jack makes a valid point, but what I love in this shot, is the detail. We see the flaking of paint, for what appears to be a fine establishment, it has its flaws and I think that this works exceedingly well. Sometimes within photography or cinematography having some details that aren’t perfect add a kind of rustic feel to it.
The back panelling also adds a significant amount of detail to the still – almost like a layered feather. Whether by mistake or a consideration, have you noticed that there are three lights. Each light is positioned near at least of one the characters – almost like the light is solely to highlight them. Now, I know the light isn’t strong – it isn’t blatantly meant to work as a somewhat spotlight, but it shapes the silhouettes of all the characters, showcasing the detail.
Everything about this is well-thought-out, from the costumes to the décor of the shot.
We just want to bring it all together to cap off the first edition of the Black Panther series by just applauding the incredible cinematography within this film. On every level, ‘Black Panther’ is beautiful, but the stills, the imagery, the colour are by far the standouts in the film. We love it for what it is, what it represents and what it means for the future, but we also must marvel in the beauty of the physical picture and enjoy seeing this and more to come from Marvel Studios.