Aside from being one of the best character study films of the year, Joker continues to be hit with appraisals from critics and fans alike for not only Joaquin Phoenix’s impressive performance but also for its aesthetic ‘Indie’ style cinematography. Arguably, particular key moments from the movie have already gotten moviegoers debating Oscar talks for a Best Picture nomination.
A few scenes from Joker such as the subway sequence, a truly “defining moment” where Arthur Fleck transforms into his villainous persona was acclaimed by the masses. Joker cinematographer Lawrence Sher recently broke it down scene-by-scene to explain a few of the unsaid elements that fans could have missed.
The “Fever Dream”
Sher revealed that the entire subway scene was filmed handheld and he compares Arthur’s encounter with the people on the train to the character’s interaction with Thomas Wayne in the bathroom “which is seemingly on one. In this case, it’s one on three.” The filmmaker explained that the plan was to “draw the audience into Arthur’s point of view”. The scene was entirely shot on a single camera and was filmed on a 360-degree environment for better lighting, Phillips described that the idea for the sequence was a “fever dream”
“In the world of “Joker” where there are a lot of things that could be questioned as to, “Is this real or fake?” this is a pivotal moment in his life where he crosses the line into the violent act. It serves as a wake-up call to his most chaotic and violent self. It’s an alternative path that his life will now take.” One other pivotal scenes from Joker was the stairs dance sequence. Currently, the real location where the scene was filmed has turned into a popular tourist sight to visit.
But rather than just admire Phoenix‘s applauding dance skills, there’s more to the stairs in Arthur’s world and the growth of his character’s arc. According to Sher, the stairs seem to symbolize Arthur’s everyday struggle as he walked up and down the stairs enduring his pain. But this sequence has him dancing which shows his “ascension going home”. “He’s not just going down the stairs which are symbolic of him going down into the darker part of himself, he’s celebrating himself.” Joker is in theaters worldwide.