The past several months have been very kind to fans of visual cinematic art. Films such as The Lighthouse or 1917 have received much deserved praise for their achievements behind the camera. While the film being addressed may not be in the same company critically, it deserves its own praise for visual storytelling. The masterful use of the camera to capture vivid and beautiful imagery makes Gretel & Hansel one of the best visual films of the past year.
One of the most striking things about Gretel & Hansel is the vividness of the frame. The use of color and light to convey the beauty within the horror is immediately apparent. Cinematographer Galo Olivares’ imagery helps reinforce the unconventional approach to the classic Hansel and Gretel story. The film avoids the good versus evil approach and instead, it attempts to tell a more compelling narrative with Gretel at the center. The visuals enhance that approach and re-tell the story through the lens of beauty.
Painting with Colors
The film introduces us to a young girl with a deadly power. To contrast that notion of evil, the designers gave the character a vibrant pink and yellow dress and bonnet. Another note of contrast is the film’s overall color tone. Other films in the genre, such as The Witch directed by Robbert Eggers, appear totally devoid of color. The imagery of that film is very cold and grey. Gretel & Hansel on the other hand, does not have a particularly monochrome color palette. Instead, the film emphasizes various colors associated with characters, landscapes, buildings, etc. For example, shots in the forest make it feel as if you are watching a vibrant fall painting in motion.
Aligning the Frame
A final visual aspect of note within the film is the use of shot composition. The meticulous preparation and planning of shots within Gretel & Hansel become so obvious even to the untrained eye. The Interior and exterior shots are extremely symmetrical. Many of the shots utilize angular elements within the frame whether through windows, archways, terrain or structures. Holda’s house is the most obvious example. Its extremely sharp, triangular frame becomes immediately iconic to the viewer. It’s as if the filmmakers infused each scene with the angles of a pentagram.
While Gretel & Hansel is not the most critically acclaimed film, it has much to offer to the cinematic medium. It is one of the most beautifully shot films not named 1917. If you are a fan of visual art or considering a career in cinematography, Gretel & Hansel is worth a watch!