Call#: Van Pelt Library TR849.A1 S33 1984
In this interview, cinematographer Conrad Hall states The Day of the Locust was the closest he came to flawlessness in visual style. He discusses how the decision to shoot the film with a smooth rather than abrasive style ultimately benefitted the film. The flawlessness of the photography matches the flawlessness of the characters’ dreams and prevents the audience from seeing them as they really were. Also, to visually match the despair would have made the film to depressing and ultimately less successful at the box office. Hall also goes on to discuss the subject matter of the film and briefly compares the lure of Hollywood to the lure of a flame to the moth. Hall talks about the use of golden tones in the movie to match the Hollywood of the time, as well as soft light to gloss over the abrasiveness of reality.
This interview is interesting because Conrad Hall is removed from the textual adaptation of the film but is essential to its successful visual adaptation. Further, Hall belongs to the system that the film criticizes and is one of the lucky few to have made it in Hollywood. It is interesting to hear his insights into Hollywood culture and how even though he has succeeded, he has sympathy for the 90% that don’t make it. The visual metaphor of the moths to the flame serve as an important translation in the film as it contributes to the decision to shoot the film in predominantly golden tones. The discussion of the Day of the Locust is surrounded by a discussion of Fat City, another film Hall shot. Fat City uses a cinematographic style that matches the despair of the story, whereas Day of the Locust’s visual style clashes with its subject matter. However, the slick visual style of the latter meshes with the dreams of its characters, and contributes a layer of visual irony that makes the film more successful.