Greed: Shining Cinematic Light

         There are two main historical aspects to Greed, which was released in 1924; film shots and lighting. The lighting for Greed was excellent for the time period in which it was made.

         Greed was an extremely long movie that was cut down to about three hours in length. Within the three hours, there was a combination of indoor and outdoor shots. The lighting for the indoor and outdoor settings was obviously done differently, but both exceeded what was commonly seen at the time.

         The indoor lighting for Greed was much better than most films from that time. The director, Erich von Stroheim, was very good at camera placement in conjunction with the placement of the lights and actors to give the best lighting possible. There were successful scenes done both during the daylight hours and nighttime hours. During the day hours, von Stroheim made excellent use of natural sunlight with a combination of lights. All of the night scenes shot inside used several lights placed in different spots of the room to give the desired amount of light and shadows.

         The outdoor lighting for Greed was excellent in both day and night scenes. There were several scenes shot outside during the day, so there was a lot of natural light used with a combination of lights needed. There were some scenes shot during the day while it was raining, so lights had to be used to create a real effect as well as compensate at times for the lack of good, natural light. For the desert scenes, there was plenty of natural light, but lights were still used to help with shadows and shots at difficult angles. In addition to the lights being used for the lighting of outdoor scenes, umbrellas were used as well to help create shadow areas, like the scenes in the desert when McTeague was having hallucinations.

         One of the fascinating things about the lighting in this film was the fact that from the beginning of the movie, the more people were affected by greed, the darker the scenes kept getting; up until the very end of the movie when McTeague (Gibson Gowland) and Marcus (Jean Hersholt) were in the desert to die.

Amanda Saunders

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