Cinematic Sunset Scenes
Sunsets in movies are often cinematic moments that can also signal some kind of change about to occur. When used as a storytelling device, they become more than just beautiful shots. They can become iconic moments. When combining character, story and visuals…the beauty and grandeur of a daily natural phenomenon enhances the narrative and makes the viewer FEEL the moment. Here are 4 cinematic sunsets that had a profound effect on me:
THX – 1138 (1971) – director George Lucas / DP David Myers
The final shot of the film. After being trapped underground for an eternity…the prisoner escapes his sterile world and feels the warmth of the sun for the first time. He stands in awe bathed in sunlight and more importantly…FREEDOM.
STAR WARS: A New Hope (1977) – director George Lucas / DP Gilbert Taylor
“EXT. TATOONE – LARS HOMESTEAD
The giant twin suns of Tatooine slowly disappear behind a distant dune range.
Luke stands watching them for a few moments, then reluctantly enters the domed entrance to the homestead.”
The last sunset before Luke embarks upon his first steps into a larger world.
His decision has been made. No dialog is needed…
RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (1981) – director Steven Spielberg
DP Douglas Slocombe
After finally locating the resting place of the Ark of the Covenant, the sun sets as Indy puts on his fedora on and prepares to breach the final barrier and claim the ultimate treasure. The sunset not only offers a cinematic moment but also reveals Indy’s location to the Nazis due to his distinctive silhouette. Drama is about to ensue as darkness falls…
STAR WARS: The Force Awakens (2015) – director J.J. Abrams
DP Daniel Mindel / Visual Effects by Industrial Light & Magic
When this shot came on screen during the Japanese trailer released on November 6, 2015…I was flabbergasted. So organic. So familiar. So menacing. To see Tie Fighters emerging out of the sunset through the rippling heat distortion was beautiful yet disturbing. We have never seen them on a desert planet coming in so low and ominously. Some serious shit is about to go down. The breath-taking sunset hides/cloaks the malevolent Tie Fighters as they approach for what appears to be an onslaught.
UPDATE: MAD MAX BEYOND THUNDERDOME AND SICARIO
The calm before the storm. Once again…as the sun goes down things change.
Until next time…