Term Paper: Lighting in the Film Titanic

Pages: 6 (2188 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Film  ·  Buy This Paper


[. . .] Carpenter filmed "Titanic" in Super 35 format (2.4:1 aspect ratio) with a common top line. "As enormous and logistically challenging as Titanic was' Carpenter says, 'I feel happiest with the more intimate scenes'" (Kodak).


In "True Lies," "Jim Cameron's very blue night lighting" is extremely evident throughout the film, just as it is in "Titanic." From the opening shots of the forest outside the mansion in Switzerland, to each of the numerous other shots set at night, including the apprehension scene in the trailer park, and the interrogation scene, they all carry a heavy blue cast, insinuating moonlight, ice cold snow, and of course, water.

Again, as in "Titanic," many of the interior scenes, such as the parties, and the interior of the Tasker home are warmly lit with a combination of yellows and reds, to give the impression of warmth, as opposed to the coldness of the nighttime scenes, where much of the action of the movie takes place. This helps to distinguish the two very different sides of Schwarzenegger's personalities - the warm family man, as opposed to the cold, calculating spy.

Carpenter's signature side lighting is also evident in "True Lies" especially in shots involving Schwarzenegger. He is often lit half in shadow, with only one side of his face showing clearly. This again shows the two different sides of the character, and serves to make the scenes more dramatic. This technique was extremely useful in the suite scene, where Jamie Lee Curtis dances with the bed, and in the interrogation scene, when Schwarzenegger is injected with some type of truth serum. Carpenter also uses it effectively in the early party scene, when Schwarzenegger enters the mansion. During his movement through the crowd at the party, he is often shown lit on one side of his face, indicating his need to remain unseen and in the shadows.

It is clear that Carpenter repeats camera and lighting techniques that he is comfortable with, and that win the approval of his directors. His lighting helps to define the story and the characters, and make the film more enjoyable for viewers. As his knowledge and techniques continue to develop, Carpenter's visual influence will certainly continue to wow viewers and gratify directors.

Titanic" was a masterful combination of cinematography, special effects, and sets on a huge scale. Perhaps Rob Legato, visual effects master at Digital Domain said it best, "Years from now, when people in this industry look back at the making of "Titanic" as one of the milestones, they'll see the growing collaboration between the cinematographer and the digital effects studio,' says Legato. 'That's essential for a seamless look'" (Fisher).


Argy, Stephanie, Chris & Stephen Pizzello, Eric Rudolph, & David E. Williams. "Russell Carpenter, ASC, 'Titanic.'" American Cinematographer. June 1998. 11 Oct. 2002. http://www.theasc.com/magazine/jun98/lumin/pg3.htm

Carpenter, Russell. "Titanic' E-mail." American Society of Cinematographers. 2 June 1998. 11 Oct. 2002. http://www.theasc.com/clubhouse/qanda/carpenter/email.htm

Chumo, Peter N. "Learning to Make Each Day Count Time in James Cameron's 'Titanic.'" Journal of Popular Film and Television 26.4 (1999): 158-165.

Davis, Todd F., and Kenneth Womack. "Narrating the Ship of Dreams: The Ethics of Sentimentality in James Cameron's 'Titanic.'" Journal of Popular Film and Television 29.1 (2001): 42-48.

Editors. "Cine Series: Russell Carpenter." Mole-Richardson, Inc. 2002. 11 Oct. 2002. http://www.mole.com/aboutus/history/cine_carpenter.html

Editors. "Titanic': Russell Carpenter." Kodak. 14 Sept. 2001. 12 Oct. 2002. http://www.kodak.com/U.S./en/corp/features/carpenter/carpenterBio.shtml

Fisher, Bob. "Titanic'-A Landmark in the Collaborative Art of Filmmaking." International Cinematographers Guild. 28 Oct. 2000. 11 Oct. 2002. http://www.cameraguild.com/index.html?interviews/chat_carpenter/index.htm~top.main_hp

Moderator. "Transcript of Live Chat with Russell Carpenter, ASC." International Cinematographers Guild. 28 Oct. 2000. 11 Oct. 2002. http://www.cameraguild.com/index.html?interviews/chat_carpenter/index.htm~top.main_hp

Titanic. Dir. James Cameron. Perf. Kate Winslet, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kathy Bates, Gloria Stuart. 20th Century Fox/Paramount, 1997.

True Lies. Dir. James Cameron. Perf. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jamie Lee Curtis, Tom Arnold. 20th Century Fox, 1994.

Zack, Christopher. "Titanic's Cinematographer Russell Carpenter." Movie Maker Magazine. Issue #29, July 1998. 11 Oct. 2002. http://www.moviemaker.com/issues/29/29_carpenter.html [END OF PREVIEW]

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