Tuesday, April 22, 2003

So why do movies use that third world filter? I assume that it is supposed to provide some sense of exoticism and grit that might be lacking in real life. You could be charitable and say that visual accuracy doesn't necessarily capture the mood of a place, and that an overexposed and brownish filter gives you the sense of anxiety that you might feel if you were in Iraq or Tijuana, especially if you were in trouble in Iraq or Tijuana. Or you could be uncharitable and say that it distances the people and places of the third world so that first world audiences don't have to feel uncomfortably sympathetic with them and their predicaments. I happen to think that the use of the third world filter in Traffic was kind a little much, but in Three Kings I liked it. It made me feel all headachy, as though I'd been driving in a jeep for hours in the sun, and that was perfect for that movie.

(I should say that I don't actually think Mexico is a third world country, but when Soderbergh filmed it through that brown filter, it sure looked like one.)

This reminds me of an article I really liked in Salon a couple of years ago. It was about the way people write about Africa.


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