Conrad Hall treats the movie Road to Perdition with a very passionate eye for detail and emotion. Throughout the movie the audience is constantly forced to view the message being presented through the eyes of Conrad Hall.

The area of interest that I found Conrad focusing on most was the saturation and color of the film. One immediately notices how the film is shot in a low saturation and what I’d call a brownish color. Everything is kind of sad and dull. There isn’t really too much excitement being shown. I also feel strongly on the saturated color of green is used as a happy color. I mean the whole movie may have a kind of green feel, but the highly saturated green is really only seen during the joyful and memorable parts between the father and son, or any other special moment… even the dice at the beginning were a highly saturated green. Majority of the time the green is shown through vibrant, deep green colors of plants and vegetation.
The film also does a great job of showing emotion through the use of light and contrast. For instance, when Mike grabs for his briefcase (which has his gun) around 20:23 the lighting is very dark and has a very fast falloff, as this naturally creates a scarier, less aware of you surroundings kind of an environment. The first killing that you see by Mike is also in a very dark and eerie set. It just seems like a cold slimy place… There is snow everywhere, it is pouring with rain, and there are really tall buildings creating a trapped feeling. Also, when Mike returns the briefcase later on (28:09) the scene is much lighter. It is almost as if his son has seen what he does, there is no secret any longer – the black enigma has taken form. We now understand what this once unknown event is.
Slow motion was also used, as in many films, during really dramatic events. When one of the guys was shot in the beginning at 24:55, slow motion ensued. I don’t know, I guess it’s the increased number of frames per second of slow motion that just really emphasizes the event well, as illustrated here.

I really like the way Mike Jr. is just sitting at the table by himself around 41:19. A dining table, such as this, is thought to unite the family together and bring love within. Here, Mike Jr. is sitting at the table all by himself with a straight look on his face. This is showing that something must have happened to the rest of the family. It is not normal for one person to just be sitting at a table by themselves – especially during the 1930’s, and especially a young lad.

I have also noticed that every time during one of the shots of them driving through the fields, it’s always a long shot. I assume Mr. Conrad was showing the openness and the freedom that Mike and Mike Jr. were finally having together. These two were finally comfortable with each other and it was shown through the vast area of the land. There were not as many worries here. This is at least the feeling that I felt during these sequences.

Another really great part is when the camera guy is walking across the street at 1:22:34. Mike Jr. is distracted for a few seconds as the camera guy makes his move for the hotel. When Mike Jr. finally regains attention, the man has already passed by. But that’s not the best part… the coolest thing is how when Mike Jr. finally looks to see what the man has, a car drives by and covers up the man for a short moment. I just really love this small detail and how it makes the audience wait just a few more seconds and debate whether or not Mike Jr. will find out he has a weapon.

Besides all these emotional scenes that were presented, many of the other shots were simply beautiful and original. From around 33:30 to 33:59 is just fascinating. The camera slowly zoomed into that one guy while everyone was leaving… but the camera didn’t focus on the center guy, it focused on the men leaving and then finally went back to the main guy at the last few seconds. It was really nice. I also really enjoyed the scene at 40:56 when Mike Jr. discovers his mother and brother dead. It just seems like the perfect shot… especially because Conrad doesn’t show the two dead bodies. Instead he just allows your mind to draw the image as Mike Jr. walks into the bathroom. I also really like how there is a family picture barely visible in the background of this. I also really enjoy the hand blood shot at 46:31. Conrad really makes it obvious, but just the thought of putting that quick shot in there is what counts. Great job Jesus, I mean Conrad Hall ;). Its also really cool how at 47:47 you never see the Chicago buildings physically, you first just see the raytrace on the window of the car, and then the audience sees the tall buildings after watching Mike Jr.’s look of amazement. One of my favorite shots is at 49:14 when the camera pans and follows Mike through the walkway. It also is framing him at the site time, just plain gorgeous. This shot is also not just a few seconds, it is long enough for the viewer to really capture and enjoy this special moment. Alright, something about 55:54 just amazes me… I love how the shot has industrial Chicago on the left (with the buildings) and then the nature side of Chicago on the right (with the trees), and they both balance each other out. And then the railing following the length of the track all the way off through the distance is wonderful. At 1:09:35 there is perhaps one of the coolest parts. The audience is placed in the front of the car as they get a lovely 5 frame shot of the glass shattering on the back windshield as it is shot. I just love how this clip is just short enough to catch what is happening. It was actually kind of frightening the first time, especially since the glass was being thrown at everyone’s subjective view. At 1:40:28, I like how when Mike shoots that guy, his eyes start off looking right at him – straight across. After he is done shooting him, the guy slowly falls down as do Mike’s eyes, that was a nice detail. Alright, and the final cool shot I will present is the one at 1:43:06 when the dead guy is shown through the door mirror in the bathroom. It’s just awesome, especially because the door slowly closes so there is just a quick glimpse.

Well I could probably go on with a few more shots but I feel this is sufficient. I hope the gets my point across about the emotions and shots of the film. Might I add that this film was terrific – It was my first time watching it today and am I glad I purchased it. This will be a great reference for future cinematography.

 Filed under: Misc, Misc

About The Author

Quinton Figueroa

Quinton Figueroa

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El Paso, Texas

I am an entrepreneur at heart. Throughout my whole life I have enjoyed building real businesses by solving real problems. Business is life itself. My goal with businesses is to help move the human ...

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