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  #1  
Old 11-08-2007, 11:30 PM
Merkwurdigliebe Merkwurdigliebe is offline
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Atmospheric Movies

For me......I really get a lot out of movies with a lot of atmosphere. Even to the extent that a lot of the other aspects of the movies can be bad and I'll still enjoy it. Now most of the movies that I like for this reason are still great movies in their own right, but there are others that still do it for me despite being quite lame (Point Break). A lot of it has to do with cinematography, but it's not always the case. Let me give a few examples.

The French Connection. I first saw this less than a year ago. I thought the plot was good. For an older movie it certainly did show its age in the way the pacing was set up, but still very good. But what was so great about it? It was New York in the 70's and it was BLEAK. Even better, they filmed it in the winter. Not the typical (ooh, it's winter and it's pretty and snowing!) It is bleak winter. The kind of winter where you go out and curse yourself for having to leave the house.

Heat. Great action movie in itself, but there are so many scenes that are quite poetically done. There are so many scenes that just make me feel as if I'm living in LA. Now...this is a fantasy version of LA i've build in my head, but it's still quite real from the movie. It really highlights the essence of LA to me in the way that the city seems to be very suburban, in a sense, but older than cities like Houston or Atlanta in that all of the expansion was done much longer before. It's quite interesting in that respect.

The Insider. Now, to be honest, I have no special attachment to the locations of this film, but damn if it wasn't an amazing thing to watch. There were so many scenes and the music is always key too.

Sneakers. This is a great film, but it also lives and breathes San Francisco at certain times. It's very good at what it does, but it also shows a great sense of atmosphere.

I mentioned Point Break earlier. It's a kitsch movie, but it has SoCal running through every single scene. It's funny like that. Also....I'm almost embarrassed to admit...Mortal Kombat. I liked it as a kid, and it's a horrible movie to be sure, but the scenes on that island paradise like place were pretty cool if you ignore the acting! And also some fight between one of the characters and the bad guys took place in this forest. Only it was a planned forest. Not like the normal kind though that are normally pine trees, but this was with deciduous trees..


I find that the same goes for other media as well. Books? I can read all kinds of books, but i'm willing to be extra forgiving if I like the way the background is painted.


So what I guess I'm trying to say, do you guys feel the same about movies or whatever? And if so, give some examples of certain things that you like.
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  #2  
Old 11-08-2007, 11:54 PM
KarlGauss KarlGauss is offline
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Well, I had never been to the seamier parts of New York until I saw Taxi Driver. Now that was some kind of atmosphere.
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  #3  
Old 11-09-2007, 12:57 AM
Talon Karrde Talon Karrde is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KarlGauss
Well, I had never been to the seamier parts of New York until I saw Taxi Driver. Now that was some kind of atmosphere.
Good one. If I thought of it I would have come in to post that. I think a lot of it's due to the music.
Vertigo is similar. I think the score was done by the same guy (can't remember his name), but it really helps set the right mood for the film. It's best to not watch that movie thinking of it as a mystery to be solved, but something to sink into and experience all the strange things going on.


Citizen Kane is very atmospheric at times, like at the beginning.
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Old 11-09-2007, 01:10 AM
Merkwurdigliebe Merkwurdigliebe is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Talon Karrde
It's best to not watch that movie thinking of it as a mystery to be solved, but something to sink into and experience all the strange things going on

I LOVE movies like that. I gotta get that ASAP.

Good one with taxi-driver, although I didn't feel any way about it, I can see how others would have...
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Old 11-09-2007, 01:27 AM
Talon Karrde Talon Karrde is offline
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Originally Posted by Merkwurdigliebe
I LOVE movies like that. I gotta get that ASAP.
It's not David Lynch type strangeness, so you might be disappointed if you're expecting that. It's just that the main character finds himself in a situation where things don't seem to make sense. It's psychological, but more in an impressionist way than an expressionist way.
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  #6  
Old 11-09-2007, 03:28 AM
Sapo Sapo is offline
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This one won't be popular, but Alien 3 is truly atmospheric.

Children of Heaven. You are just dragged along and there is nothing you can do to keep from feeling what the characters are feeling.

Spirited Away, of course.
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  #7  
Old 11-09-2007, 03:38 AM
Tapioca Dextrin Tapioca Dextrin is offline
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Are we allowed to vote for Lesbian Vampire film? If so, The Hunger deserves a mention. Not much in the way of plot, but lots of, er, atmposphere.
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  #8  
Old 11-09-2007, 03:54 AM
Promethea Promethea is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Talon Karrde
Good one. If I thought of it I would have come in to post that. I think a lot of it's due to the music.
Vertigo is similar. I think the score was done by the same guy (can't remember his name), but it really helps set the right mood for the film. It's best to not watch that movie thinking of it as a mystery to be solved, but something to sink into and experience all the strange things going on.


Citizen Kane is very atmospheric at times, like at the beginning.
All of those movies were scored by the legendary Bernard Herrmann.
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  #9  
Old 11-09-2007, 07:09 AM
MrDibble MrDibble is online now
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Wings of Desire captures something about Europe - pre-Fall...and the human condition.
Time of the Gypsies
The Mission
Aguirre, Wrath of God
Withnail & I

Last edited by MrDibble; 11-09-2007 at 07:13 AM..
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  #10  
Old 11-09-2007, 07:29 AM
CalMeacham CalMeacham is offline
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Atmospheric movies:



Sorceror

The Natural

Greystoke, the Legend of Tarzan of the Apes
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  #11  
Old 11-09-2007, 10:09 AM
ianzin ianzin is offline
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Lost In Translation
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  #12  
Old 11-09-2007, 10:34 AM
Hampshire Hampshire is offline
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For me it has to be Bladerunner. To me the story just happens to be taking place in the background of this fabulous atmosphere created by Ridley Scott and Vangelis.
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  #13  
Old 11-09-2007, 10:39 AM
WOOKINPANUB WOOKINPANUB is offline
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This might sound like an odd choice, but one of the main reasons I love The Ring is the atmosphere created by it having been filmed in a muted blue / green palette and the haunting soundtrack. Something about it just sucks me right in.
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  #14  
Old 11-09-2007, 11:01 AM
Merkwurdigliebe Merkwurdigliebe is offline
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I suppose one thing that I've noticed about my choices vs. the choices of the others is that mine seem to rarely use actual sets. All of mine seem to be filmed on various locations. I guess I appreciate that more somehow.
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  #15  
Old 11-09-2007, 11:08 AM
KneadToKnow KneadToKnow is offline
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I would recommend The Man Who Wasn't There, but for the fact that I would never recommend seeing it on anything but the big screen first. It's beauty is crystalline and while it does translate to the small screen well, nothing will ever compare to the night I saw it a hundred feet across.

That said, I'll second Alien3. As was noted upthread, it's not popular, but it's my second favorite of the 3 Alien movies.

Last edited by KneadToKnow; 11-09-2007 at 11:09 AM..
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  #16  
Old 11-09-2007, 11:11 AM
Smith8762 Smith8762 is offline
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Gummo was recommended to me by a friend and it has a lot of atmosphere. Takes place in Xenia, Ohio after the devastating tornado ripped through. No sets, all shot on location. The movie revels in painting an almost post-apocalyptic nihilistic dystopia. I have no idea what the point of the movie is, but it certainly succeeds in creating an atmosphere like I've never seen before. The colorful characters only make it that much more dramatic.
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  #17  
Old 11-09-2007, 11:25 AM
Beadalin Beadalin is offline
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City of Lost Children. It's just gorgeous.

And for another atmospheric movie with "Children" in the title, The Children of Men. Sets up a very believable dystopian future with loads of period detail (present wherever you look, but never overdone). I got a huge kick out of reading the graffiti, headlines and advertisements in the background.

Last edited by Beadalin; 11-09-2007 at 11:27 AM.. Reason: I misread what I quoted. Yay me!
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  #18  
Old 11-09-2007, 12:37 PM
CJJ* CJJ* is offline
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Let me pony up two spectacular films--on old and new one--that fits this category...

Orson Welles The Third Man; a great movie in its own right, and a lot of that comes from the atmosphere of post-war Vienna. Characters walk blithely by piles of rubble that were once buildings prior to the war, just to give one example. Many unusual shots and almost claustrophobic camerawork underscore postwar Viennese society and meshes perfectly with the storyline. Definitely put it in your queue.

Pan's Labyrinth; it's not at all fair to call this a simple fantasy film. The lush fantasy elements are in stark contrast to the bleak and colorless world of WWII Spain. This fundamental clash of atmospheres is critical IMO to the way the film works, so here you get two well-crafted realities for the price of one. It is imaginative, dangerous, and utterly engrossing.
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  #19  
Old 11-09-2007, 12:39 PM
Gordon Urquhart Gordon Urquhart is offline
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City of God definitely made me feel like I was in Rio, and not in a good way. Excellent, excellent movie, though.

The film adaptation of Snow Falling on Cedars was incredibly atmospheric, and was the first movie I thought of when reading the thread title. The exterior shots were simply gorgeous, and made me feel as if I was right outside with the characters.

City of God made me feel the heat of Brazil as well as the desperate situation of the characters; Snow Falling on Cedars was a much slower-paced film that matched the cooler temperatures of Washington state.

Last edited by Gordon Urquhart; 11-09-2007 at 12:40 PM..
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  #20  
Old 11-09-2007, 12:44 PM
NailBunny NailBunny is offline
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The City of Lost Children had amazing atmosphere. The bright colours, the carnival music...god I love that movie. *weeps that she has a VHS copy and a disconnected VCR*
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  #21  
Old 11-09-2007, 12:49 PM
Sapo Sapo is offline
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I suppose one thing that I've noticed about my choices vs. the choices of the others is that mine seem to rarely use actual sets. All of mine seem to be filmed on various locations. I guess I appreciate that more somehow.
Then I will strongly re-reccommend Children of Heaven, if you haven't already seen it.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0118849/

Last edited by Sapo; 11-09-2007 at 12:50 PM..
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  #22  
Old 11-09-2007, 01:06 PM
Tuckerfan Tuckerfan is offline
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Technically, the movie has no atmosphere, but I can't imagine any list of atmospheric films being complete without mentioning For All Mankind. Stunning, stunning, visuals, and Eno's soundtrack is just perfect for the film.
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  #23  
Old 11-09-2007, 01:18 PM
Bridget Burke Bridget Burke is offline
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The Moderns is an Alan Rudolph film set in Paris in the 20's. Shot in Montreal, it has a smoky, bohemian atmosphere, aided by a haunting musical score. Can a film be pretentiously arty & funny at the same time? Apparently, yes.

O Brother Where Art Thou had a definite sepia tone. So many scenes of the Depression South appear copied from WPA photographs--beautiful or ugly. And there was music, too....

Of course, I'll second Bladerunner. And add a good word for The Fifth Element--set in a jollier, more colorful future. (Surely, comics fans can name the French influences.) Plot, who needs a plot?
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  #24  
Old 11-09-2007, 01:29 PM
CalMeacham CalMeacham is offline
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O Brother Where Art Thou had a definite sepia tone. So many scenes of the Depression South appear copied from WPA photographs--beautiful or ugly. And there was music, too....

As they show in the DVDs "Extras" section, that movie was VERY heavily altered using computer graphics to "wash out" a lot of the color and render it that sepia tone.


I have to admit, I hated it.
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  #25  
Old 11-09-2007, 01:51 PM
Marley23 Marley23 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KneadToKnow
I would recommend The Man Who Wasn't There, but for the fact that I would never recommend seeing it on anything but the big screen first. It's beauty is crystalline and while it does translate to the small screen well, nothing will ever compare to the night I saw it a hundred feet across.
Damn, somebody beat me to it. I found this movie very affecting and the atmosphere is the reason for that.

I felt the same way about The Pianist. I felt like I was IN the movie sometimes.
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  #26  
Old 11-09-2007, 02:08 PM
Baldwin Baldwin is offline
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Night of the Hunter, besides having some great performances, carries an almost unique atmosphere. Hard to describe. Dreamlike, but also earthy. The Coen brothers must be fans; there are visual or dialogue references to this movie in Raising Arizona and The Man Who Wasn't There.

Session 9, although it doesn't have a great script, is spooky as hell just based on good photography of a great set: a huge, abandoned, derelict 19th century mental hospital.
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  #27  
Old 11-09-2007, 07:45 PM
JimmyFlair JimmyFlair is offline
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I've always found the fall creepy - it's not a Halloween thing, but I've always felt a weird, vague sense that things... just aren't right. Maybe it's the low light in the afternoon, I don't know. I get an "edgy" feeling that starts in mid September and finally tapers off in late October. It's hard to explain, but feels VERY real to me.
Donnie Darko somehow nails this mood - the pervasive creeping sense of doom in the autumn.

This particular movie seemed to serve as a trigger for pretentious wankers to drone on about "time travel in the context of 17th century philosophy that you'd really have to be obtuse to miss" (or whatever) ...blah blah blah....But hey, I give it points for atmosphere!
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  #28  
Old 11-09-2007, 07:57 PM
Evil Captor Evil Captor is offline
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The remake of Cat People -- the one with Nastassia Kinski -- is lousy with atmosphere. Pre-Katrina New Orleans and a haunting Giorgio Moroder score do the trick. As well as a hauntingly beautiful Nastassia Kinski.
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  #29  
Old 11-09-2007, 08:48 PM
Larry Borgia Larry Borgia is offline
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The Proposition
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  #30  
Old 11-09-2007, 10:52 PM
KneadToKnow KneadToKnow is offline
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Oh, and I don't know how I forgot to mention my favorite movie of all time, Round Midnight. There is, simply, no substitute for hiring musicians to play the musicians in a film, and then filming them actually playing the music you are hearing. God, that movie makes me weep for its beauty.
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Old 11-09-2007, 11:10 PM
rjk rjk is offline
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The atmosphere gets pretty thick and and close to unbreathable at times in Das Boot. There's tension and terror enough, but the main thing is that it's as claustrophobic a film as I've seen. (Driving home in a snowstorm after seeing it, I still wanted to roll down all the windows. )
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  #32  
Old 11-09-2007, 11:23 PM
EsotericEnigma EsotericEnigma is offline
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Good (and bad too!) to note that my selection hasn't been mentioned yet.

I would say The Hunted, which did a fantastic job of setting up "the hunt" motif. The movie is eerily quiet during scenes where the two main characters hunt each other down, and creates a sense of tension and atmosphere that made this movie seemingly a lot better than it was. Even Tommy Lee Jones got into the act, selling his "outdoorsman" character by making him calm and cool outside (where he lives and belongs), but really fidgety and tense inside a high rise in the city.

I remember seeing it at the cheap theater in Tucson, AZ, and leaving the theater wondering why I hadn't heard anything about that movie from anyone. I thought about it a bit more and realized how well the movie had sold itself to me during the showing, making up for a lot of flaws.
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  #33  
Old 11-10-2007, 04:34 AM
Carnick Carnick is offline
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The Shining and The Thing. Two cold, claustrophobic horror movies.
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  #34  
Old 11-10-2007, 05:16 AM
mamboman mamboman is offline
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I came to second "The Shining", but there is an atmosphere peculiar to all of Kubrick's films.
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  #35  
Old 11-10-2007, 05:57 AM
MrDibble MrDibble is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Merkwurdigliebe
I suppose one thing that I've noticed about my choices vs. the choices of the others is that mine seem to rarely use actual sets. All of mine seem to be filmed on various locations. I guess I appreciate that more somehow.
Mine too - big on locations:
Wings of Desire - Berlin, especially the area around the Wall
Time of the Gypsies -Sarajevo (pre-war) and Italy
The Mission - Amazonia
Aguirre, Wrath of God - Amazon
Withnail & I - London & English countryside.
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  #36  
Old 11-10-2007, 10:15 AM
Sapo Sapo is offline
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Another couple of bad but very atmospheric movies:

The Others (specially the first half all in the dark)

Blair Witch Project.
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  #37  
Old 11-10-2007, 10:48 AM
Ferd Burfel Ferd Burfel is offline
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The Panic In Needle Park took me to locations I never want to see again.
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  #38  
Old 11-19-2007, 06:19 AM
Lust4Life Lust4Life is offline
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Angel Heart,even when there doesn't appear to be anything going on you're still on the edge of your seat and cant understand why.

And bizzarrly I think Shaun of the Dead was atmospheric,though that might be because I'm more used to seeing Zombie movies set in the states rather then on home turf.
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  #39  
Old 11-19-2007, 06:27 AM
Martini Enfield Martini Enfield is offline
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Sky Captain And The World Of Tomorrow captured the essence and atmosphere of 1930s and 1940s pulp serials perfectly, IMHO.
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