Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Meaning of Gothic and How I would film Notre Dame

The meaning of gothic has changed over the years. Back when it was used to first describe cathedrals such as Cologne or Notre Dame, it was used as a derogatory term. It was to describe the buildings as barbaric and shamelessly over decorated. When they were first built, gothic architecture was not called gothic. And now when we think of gothic architecture we think of dark things like withes, gargoyles, bats, and other evil things. We also use the term now to apply it to a certain type of culture; we describe people as gothic. These people are usually wearing dark clothes, painted fingernails, dyed black hair, angry at the world and all that jazz. When I think of the word gothic, I think of novels like The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo, which is quite dark and mysterious as well as buildings like Notre Dame.

If I were to use Notre Dame cathedral for a film the first thing I would take advantage of would be the enormous height. Since it has flying buttresses it allowed gothic architects to build higher than before. I would get a nice low camera angle that would make Notre Dame look overbearing and intimidating. I would also take advantage of the gargoyles and other decoration on the outside by getting tight close-ups of them and inserting them somewhere in the film with jump cuts. I would definitely use the rose window and get shots from the inside and outside because it’s so beautiful and one of the key parts of a gothic cathedral. On the inside of Notre Dame I would film from the front to get the massive amount of pews in the cathedral. I would probably get a dolly shot going down the center isle and also on the outer sides of the pews looking toward the center. I would get shots looking down on the congregation from the ceiling and balconies as well as shoots from their POV up toward the high dome ceiling. Then I would get shots of the altar at the front. I would also get a close-up of the crucifix and the stain glass windows and maybe some shot of candles in the cathedral. The final shot I would get would be of the doors and the entrance archways.

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