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What Profile Shots in Bong Joon-ho’s “Mother” Reveal About Character

If you don’t know who Tony Zhou is, now’s the perfect time to get acquainted. Zhou is a filmmaker who uploads awesome videos that analyze filmmaking techniques by famous directors. You probably heard about his video on Satoshi Kon’s editing quirks and his other video about Martin Scorsese’s use of silence. However, I want to jump back a bit and highlight an older video he did two months ago about Korean director Bong Joon-ho.

Joon-ho has been getting tons of press here in the States thanks to his first English-language film Snowpiercer, but 2009′s Mother is another great film of his. In the video (which, warning, contains spoilers), Zhou talks about Joon-ho’s expert use of telephoto profile shots. Typically directors shoot actors from the front to maximize the audience’s emotional connection to the characters. But in Mother, Joon-ho shoots emotionally charged scenes in profile. Zhou explains why Joon-ho does this in the video and explains how it’s cleverly done to reveal aspects about the characters’ humanity. It’s a fantastic example of craft and art.

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