The Filmmaking Craft of David Fincher Demystified in Two Video Essays

by Peter D. Marshall

by Jonathan Crow.

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David Fincher is an auteur in the same way that Alfred Hitchcock is – you can tell a Fincher film from seeing a single frame. His shots are colored with inky blacks and sickly fluorescent greens and they are always compositionally perfect. His camera moves with an eerie disembodied smoothness that makes a Kubrick film seem down right warm and inviting. His movies mine the murky recesses of the human condition; you are more likely to see a grisly murder in a Fincher movie than a passionate kiss. Even movies that have a relatively low body count, like The Social Network, are imbued with a distinctly Finchersque grimness.

A growing number of critics are starting to pay attention. Above you can see Tony Zhou illustrate the director’s stylistic restraint in a video essay called “And the Other Way is Wrong.” Fincher himself once said, “They know you can do anything so the question is what don’t you do, not what do you do.” And Zhou elegantly shows what Fincher does not do, which is such staples of Hollywood filmmaking as hand-held cameras and close ups. He likes his camera locked down and aloof.

Watch these videos from Open Culture.

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