“Life is unpredictable, and I feel, to some extent, lighting and cinematography should be a reflection of that”- Rachel Morrison
While the storytelling plays an important role in the success of any show, the cinematography is equally important. Different camera angles, lights and their tricks have variant and vivid effects on the overall look of a drama. While there are no set rules or formulas to filling the gaps, distinct frames enhance the entire cinematic experience and turn it into an exuberant affair. Some subjects are so beautiful that you can’t help but be enamored. In today’s feature, our authors will be taking about their favorite cinematic visuals!
I’ll be honest and admit that I felt a little out of depth when I had to think about which BL series had the best cinematography. On paper, I knew what it meant, but I don’t know enough about filmmaking techniques to be able to detect what good cinematography is supposed to look like. After a little of sleuthing (thank you google for saving my life yet again) I came to the realisation that more than anything, it’s about how the vibe of the show feels. So, without further ado, here’s my list of series where the atmosphere played a big part in my viewing experience.
I Told Sunset About You
I don’t think this will be an unpopular opinion, but I cannot talk about cinematography in BL without immediately conjuring the beauty that was ITSAY. A little confession before I proceed, I actually didn’t know the story happened in the present day before I watched it; I thought it was showcasing a story that took place a few decades past, a piece that was designed to bring out nostalgia.
And it did, in a sense. The mildly yellow-ish cast over the landscape of Phuket made me nostalgic despite never having been there; it made me long for something I never could quite place. Even now, many months after having watched it, I can still vividly imagine the stills and the play with colours in my mind.
I Promised You the Moon
I was debating whether to include I Promised You the Moon with I Told Sunset About You, or to keep it in the list as a separate entry, and decided on the latter precisely because of how different IPYTM felt as compared to ITSAY.
Without doing a frame-by-frame analysis, even watching the series casually, it is easy to tell the stark differences in stylisation and cinematography. This I chalk up to not only the different styles of the directors but also how both represented Teh and Oh-aew’s relationship before getting together, and the hurdles they faced afterwards in a new setting which brought its own challenges.
While ITSAY represented warmth in its entirety, IPYTM felt much colder, the use of blues throughout conveying the sense of distance that their relationship was inevitably going to go through. It was precisely because it was so aesthetically contrasting to ITSAY, that I can immediately associate the cinematography of both series to the progress (or regress) of the relationship between Teh and Oh-aew.
Manner of Death
With Manner of Death, I couldn’t place my finger on what exactly it is that made me think of the series when I thought about good cinematography, but looking back on its stills and clips, I thought they seemed a lot bleaker than most BL series usually are.
The cinematography fits the overall energy of the show, which is more plot-driven than focused on their relationship, and the framing of the scenes as well as the colours used give a sense of discomfort. We are supposed to question the motives of the characters (including Tan in the beginning), but more than that, the shots and scenes convey to us that there is something wrong, something vile happening behind the tranquil landscape of Viang Pha Mork.
BL Dramas can be good or bad depending on several factors. One of them is cinematography. It is important, since it follows and enhances the storyline. You can have an amazing storyline but if the cinematography does not match, well it can be disappointing or confusing!
Not Me Series
Not Me is at the top of my list, for cinematography; the way they depict the story, emotions, and the flashbacks story is truly amazing and beautiful. You get to feel the pain, hate, love, confusion and trust between the characters in this series. It is such an emotional roller coaster. When a series can express the sentiments without words, then it is truly magnificent. Gun is doing an incredible job of being Black and White and separating the individual emotions and feelings between the two.
A Tale of Thousand Stars
A Tale of Thousand Stars is truly an amazing series to watch. Even if you watch the show without any sound effects, you can still tell the story from its cinematic experience. Such is the beauty of this series. The pain expressed in this show when the absolute truth comes out is heartbreaking and devastating. After everything is said and done, the happiness that follows when things are work out in their favor was amazingly portrayed.
Tinted With You
This was one of the series that I was not sure of. But still I watched it and it literally exploded on my screen. The way it went from present-day to ancient times was seamless, and it made sense. Feeling the love grow between the lead actors was something I enjoyed watching,
This was another exceptionally well done show! It allowed the audiences to follow along and feel the emotions and confusion experienced by the lead couple. The way they portrayed each character’s emotion individually and then blended them together was flawless. You get a deeper understanding of the storyline via the vivid landscapes and colors which heighten the character’s emotions.
Until We Meet Again
The cinematography was simply superb. You can feel the pain, happiness, confusion, and love in every single scene. This series had me hooked after 5 mins of watching. You can see and feel Pharm’s pain and Dean’s guilt via different camera angles. You see, In’s love for his family. Korn’s suffering and confusion the resulting turmoil which surpasses two different timelines. The contrast between the two eras was executed with precision and well defined.
Meet Me Outside
This show was a small sleeper drama that I truly loved. Watching this miniseries was like reminiscing about something from my past. I truly felt the emotions depicted by each character. This was a short but truly amazing series that left me feeling all warm inside.
The Moment Since
While I adored the prequel The Moment I Need You as well, the sequel The Moment Since had far more in-depth depiction of their story. You can tell Bay cares for Mok. You can also see Boston has feelings for Bay. The cinematography for this show was much better than the prequel, with close camera shots that enhanced the actor’s looks and expressions. Watching this show was absolutely enjoyable experience for me.
There are so many more BL drama that I could talk about. But these are the very few ones that stood out to me and hold a very special place in my heart. The story was told effortlessly because of the spectacular cinematography. Please watch and enjoy these series, you will not be disappointed!
We will be back next week with the third edition of this feature. So till then, keep watching this space as we bring you more updates from the Asian BL World!