I’d recently bought on DVD a cracking little film I saw many years ago called The Hill starring Sean Connery, Ossie Davis and Harry Andrew. Since buying it I hadn’t managed to get around to watching it but since my family are visiting family up north I finally got to see it again and I still love it.
It’s a black and white film released in 1965 and tells the story of a group of new inmates at a military prison set somewhere in North Africa during the second world war. When I saw this film I immediately fell in love with the cinematography by Oswald Morris and the story’s futility. It was like a movie version of my favourite photography with inspirational composition and framing everywhere.
The Hill itself with a couple of guards upon it framing the new cellmates after they are found mucking about on the hill, an exercise in pure futility.
The camera frequently moves in really close to it’s subjects, so close that in one scene I’m sure I saw the shadow of the camera creep onto a characters shirt and with the super wide angle lenses they used it heightens the tension.
The construction of elements within the frame is pretty strong throughout the film. You can often see elements in a room frame people like that hemisphere in the cell.
The layering, frequently triangular, used in many of these scenes directly influenced me and I now actively look for that foreground to background layering.
I’ll leave you with a gallery of frames that stuck with me but I highly recommend giving the film a go.