Awards: Phoenix, Florida, Chicago, Dallas-Ft. Worth crix kudos for “Brokeback Mountain”; Golden Frog at Camerimage for “Amores perros”; Silver Frog for “Alexander.”
Tools: Prieto used four of Kodak’s 16mm film stocks in Morocco to help give each story a different look. “(EXR 100D) 7248 was our favorite — its grain texture was visible, and to me it seemed the most like 5289 — but, as with 5289, I discovered it had just been discontinued,” he told American Cinematographer magazine. “We looked all over the place and were able to secure just enough of it for the Americans’ story.
“I didn’t want the Moroccan kids’ story to be as grainy, so I used (EXR 50D) 7245, which has a finer grain, for those day exteriors, (Vision2 250D) 7205 for day interiors and (Vision2 500T) 7218 for a couple of night interiors and a day-for-night shot.”
Visual references: “(Director) Alejandro (Gonzalez Inarritu) and Rodrigo accepted that Morocco would be void of a primary red, so it would basically be a very dark, rich red and the oranges of that country in contrast to Mexico, where we decided to use a primary red color, like the red of the flag, to represent the straightforward Mexican passion. For Tokyo, we chose to use a lot of purples, pinks and fuchsias to make it look like a diluted blood of futuristic essence,” production designer Brigitte Broch explains.
Aesthetic: “We visually represented the character’s individual emotional journeys through the use of different film stocks and formats,” Prieto says. “By emphasizing the subtle differences between the image quality of each story — like the texture of the film grain, the color saturation and the sharpness of the backgrounds — we were able to enhance the experience of feeling like you are in different places geographically and emotionally,” Prieto says. “We then digitally combined the different lens formats used into one negative, in the same way that all these cultures and languages come together in one film.”
What’s next: Reteaming with “Brokeback” director Ang Lee on “Lust, Caution,” a WWII-era espionage thriller set in Shanghai.