The Cinematography of “Thor”: Deconstructing Thor’s banishment scene

Thor_CastOut_R

In this scene, Thor directly defies his father. As punishment, he is thrown out of Asgard.  Despite being a short scene, there is an abundance of storytelling packed into a large collection of angles and lighting changes.  You can watch a video of the scene below.

Note: after doing some research, it looks like the only way to have an embedded movie clip without getting a DMCA takedown is to have it password protected on Vimeo. The password is ‘CINEVENGER‘ (all caps).

 

 

Also, I’ve screencapped the total collection of significant angles in the scene.  I’ve labelled them ‘A’ to ‘R’ for reference and posted them all at the bottom of the post for maximum RSS compatibility (the attached galleries only work on the website).

Here are my notes about the scene:

There is a lighting effect that plays throughout the entire scene: golden light pulsates on and off from all directions, sometimes casting the characters faces into darkness.  This volatility to the light contrasts with the previously stable, pristine, and bright light of Asgard, and shows us that Thor’s actions have sent the world into turmoil (more on the overall color palette and lighting of the film in the next “Thor” post).

When the scene opens, we see Odin in an on-axis medium shot (‘C‘) cut with Thor in a medium profile (‘B‘). Seeing Thor only in profile shows us Thors defiance and insubordination towards his father.

The first three angles of the scene (‘A‘, ‘B‘, and ‘C‘, of Loki, Thor, and Odin), all have similar backgrounds featuring the textured golden surface of Asgard.  When Odin decides to cast out Thor, we cut to a new shot of him (‘D‘, and later, ‘F‘), in which has an almost completely black void behind him, illustrating his feelings of desolation on being cast out.

Odin opening the Bifrost is shown from a directly overhead angle (‘G‘), a ‘gods eye” view, showing that Odin’s actions aren’t the more casual fireworks that we have seen previously, but rather all-powerful work that can’t be easily shrugged off or undone.

Odin approaches Thor and we see a pair of matching medium close-ups (‘H‘ and ‘J‘).  The contrast of these much tighter, on-axis, and intense angles with the wider and more off-axis angles earlier in the scene (‘B‘ and ‘C‘), signal a major beat change:  Thor is no longer audaciously and theatrically defying his father, but rather, a line has been crossed: it has become personal and the reprecussions have become real.

When Odin accuses Thor of being unworthy of the “loved ones that you have betrayed,” we see a medium wide shot of Loki positioned compositionally between Thor and Odin (‘K‘). This portrays Loki as essentially an innocent bystander caught in the conflict between Thor and Odin (an idea which will be undermined by the final shot of the scene… more on that below).

When the Bifrost has been opened, and Thor fully realizes what is about to happen, we see him in a medium close-up with a giant blue vortex behind him, taking up his entire background (‘N‘), and showing the storm of conflicted emotions that has completely overcome him.

After Thor has been thrown through the vortex, we see a left-to-right dolly move on a extreme closeup of Odin (‘Q‘) as he whispers the words to enchant Thor’s hammer.  The camera swings around the hammer as if in orbit of it, and gives a sense of its gravity and importance (the subsequent immobility of the hammer becomes a major story point later in the film).

Finally, at the end of the scene, the camera dollys over and shows us Loki framed next to the vortex (‘R‘).  Loki has essentially been an observer and non-participant for the entire scene. So, this move, which connects Loki psychologically to Thor’s banishment, casts suspicion on Loki, and serves as foreshadowing for his character throughout the rest of the film.

 

 

Thor angle 'A'

'A'

Thor angle 'B'

'B'

Thor angle 'C'

'C'

Thor angle 'D'

'D'

Thor angle 'E'

'E'

Thor angle 'F'

'F'

Thor angle 'G'

'G'

Thor angle 'H'

'H'

Thor angle 'J'

'J'

Thor angle 'K'

'K'

Thor angle 'L'

'L'

Thor angle 'M'

'M'

Thor angle 'N'

'N'

Thor angle 'P'

'P'

Thor angle 'Q'

'Q'

Thor angle 'R'

'R'

  • Akira Money ♕

    Great work!

© 2012 Benjamin Kantor. All rights reserved.