Film School: the Close-Up of the Human Face

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (1966) The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (1966)

The image powering films from Spaghetti Westerns to intimate character studies.

In his contemplation of the function, and more importantly the feeling, of the close-up as used by director Sergio Leone, Entertain the Elk opines that “kind of intimacy is one thing that cinema gives us, that few other art forms can”, and furthermore that Leone’s particular use of them in his Spaghetti Westerns “disrupts the conventional heroes of the West to reveal the dark underbelly of it all“:

In an era of CGI-powered cinema releases, Nerdwriter reminds us that, once upon a time, the “special effect” which drew people to theatres was the human face:

FilmoteCanet Cinema offers, without comment, this supercut of director Andrei Tarkovsky‘s Faces:

Director Ingmar Bergman employs the close-up in uniquely powerful ways. Thomas Flight‘s examination pays particular attention to Bergman’s compositions using two faces:

Further Viewing

“They aren’t moving, but they are sweating, so you can feel their internal intensity long before they fire their guns,” notes Now You See It of Leone’s characters, in this essay on the power of sweat as a visual storytelling detail in movies:

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