I recently saw the remake of “The Beguiled” by Sofia Coppola and the thing that struck me most powerfully about the film was the centrality of the landscape as a key character.
The gauzy, golden, moss-laden plantation landscapes are held lovingly, and for what seems like a beat or two too long, within Coppola’s viewfinder. Her style is clear and is similar to her other films like “Lost In Translation”, where the length of time spent on a single shot allows the viewer to consciously begin to absorb more of the detail within the frame than one might otherwise in a more traditional shot.
The landscapes are so immense, ancient, and dripping with history. Stories untold absorbed into tomes of branches and earth. When these backdrops fill the screen they tend to steal the show. Even when another character is in the shot, the composition is such that they only take up a small portion of the frame, allowing the scene to be overwhelmed by green leaves, dripping moss, dappled shade, and heavy arching branches.
As I watched the film I felt a sense of wholeness – that I was getting more of the story subconsciously whispered to me via the landscape than from the characters. Overall I enjoyed the movie, as I tend to do with Coppola’s work; but the thing that struck me to the core was the power of nature; the strength of these primeval landscapes to tell a story without words.
Featured image is Pasaje by Moises Levy