It’s easy for films to make us feel sad or happy by showing us a character be sad or happy. We project our own emotions onto the screen, using what we see as a proxy for our feelings. What’s more brilliant, though, is when a movies utilizes subtle cues and impeccable composition and slick cinematography to fully visualize emotion.
For example, in The Shawshank Redemption, we can see background characters in the real world looking away and ignoring a recently released inmate to make us feel his loneliness. In 12 Years a Slave, a torturous scene is composed like a painting to contrast what’s happening in the foreground and what’s happening in the background. And in Children of Men, we see hope being born again whenever a background character hits the center of the frame and sees the baby. CineFix takes a look at those three movie scenes and breaks down the lovely details of filmmaking below.