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Text Commentary

Hard and Soft Lighting in The Scarlet Empress
by Clifford Galiher `

It's easy to think of hard and soft lighting if you look at the shape of the shadows. Are they clear and sharp-edged, or soft and gauzy? How does this affect our impression of these two characters?

This Commentary is related to the following Clips:
The Scarlet Empress (1934) – Hard and Soft Lighting by Josef von Sternberg (1934) This sequence from Mulholland Dr. shifts from high-key to low-key when the two characters venture inside the bungalow. Compare the weak shadows on the actress’ faces & necks outside to the strong, enveloping ones inside.