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How the Coens Have Perfected the Dialogue Scene Through Shot Reverse Shot

Written by on February 25, 2016 

A Serious Man

In all of Hollywood, there are perhaps no directors who have a greater knack for finding the perfect actors in every scene, no matter how small, than Joel and Ethan Coen. But as any top director(s) know, it’s how you capture them — and their dialogue — that truly makes the scene extraordinary. Today brings a video essay from Every Frame a Painting’s Tony Zhou which shows how through the technique of shot reverse shot that they’ve perfected these scenes.

“How do you film a conversation?,” Zhou asks. “Most likely, you’re going to block the actors, set up the camera, and do shot/reverse shot. But where do you put the camera? What lens do you use? And how do you cut back and forth? Today, I consider the Coen brothers — Joel & Ethan — and see how these choices lend a particular feel to their version of shot/reverse shot.” Through using over dozens of examples from their films, from Blood Simple all the way through Inside Llewyn Davis, it’s an essential watch for those interested in the craft. Check it out below.

What do you think of the video essay?


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