It is no wonder that Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid has
was nominated for and won so many awards when it was released in 1969, including
but not limited to Oscars, BFTA, Golden Globes, and many more. The entire movie
is incredible and there is too much to do an overall in one blog entry, so in
this entry I am going to focus on the cinematography (lighting and colors) of
the film. I am not going to look at the overall cinematography of the film
because that is still too much, so I will be focusing on color throughout the
film with regards to what it does to the audience’s perception. 
            
The film starts out in an almost black and white color scheme when Butch
and Sundance are in town casing the bank. It comes off as nearly black and white
because there is such low color saturation (intensity of the color), but as the
characters enter the wilderness and progress to their robbing of the train the
color saturation gets richer and richer very subtly. Speaking of the characters
going out into the wild, the film also employs an expert use of the rule of
thirds with the wilderness shots. In the rule of thirds, the camera is
positioned so that there are three distinct lines in the shot, in Butch
  Cassidy
when George Roy Hill (director) includes shots of the wilderness
  the lines are very clean. The mountains as the center, the prairie in the
  foreground and the sky line to complete the thirds of the shot. Moving back to
  color, the character Etta has a very interesting dynamic in the world of color.
  When the audience first meets her she is wearing very white and bright clothes
  and the sun is up providing a lot of naturally bright, happy lighting for the
  scene between Etta, Butch, and the bicycle. However, when they all move to
  Bolivia, Etta’s colors change. She is wearing darker colors such as the
  burgundy/red skirt suit, or the more neutral/natural tones when she is riding
  away from the bank job with the boys. This shift in color sends subliminal
  messages to the audience letting them know that Etta is now an accomplice in
  the robberies, no longer just the love interest of the two main characters. 
            
The way the traveling was shown through black and white pictures was
something I was unsure of when it first began, but it was able to provide the
audience with a lot of information in a short amount of time and it also showed
a lot more of the relationship between the three of them than certain dialogue
scenes are capable of. There is also the stark contrast of the black and white
photographs that switch to a very white and kind of washed out image of Bolivia
and the place that they end up living. There is also the contrast of the natural
colors used in the states throughout the movie such as the greens and browns,
but when they move to Bolivia the colors shift. In Bolivia there is a lot of
pale brown to the point of near white, there are deem maroon/burgundy reds,
deeper greens, and less dirt browns. The combination of all these color changes
helps emphasize that they are in an unfamiliar place and they need to adjust
very quickly in order to survive. 
          
There is very little true red shown throughout the movie, but when it is
used, it is extremely vibrant. There are two main times that the red is
intensely noticeable, the first is when Butch and Sundance are on the run from
the group tracking them and they have scratches on their faces, and the second
time is right during the final stand off and they are injured. Both of these
instances involve blood on the male leads of the film. The other colors present
throughout these scenes tend to be more natural/neutral, throwing the red blood
into a much sharper contrast than it would be when paired with other vibrant or
highly saturated colors. The blood, even in something as small as a scratch on
the face serves as a reminder to the audience that these characters are indeed
mortal. 
             
There are very simple things that cinematographers can do to create a
shift in emotion of the audience, such as a minute shift in the lighting, color
saturation, or even something as subtle as the camera angle. Many people are not
aware of these things until they study them; I know I was very blind to the
factors that enabled the film creators to manipulate my emotions until I began
studying them in cinema class. Cinematography is one of those parts of creation
that seem to fly under the radar of a lot of fans of the film, but
cinematography can make or break a film. It is complex, confusing, spectacular,
and subtle, and when done correctly it can change your world. 
 
Sources Cited

 Butch
Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
.
  Dir. George Roy Hill. Perf. Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Katherine and Ross.
  Twentieth Century Fox, 1969. DVD. 

Butch Cassidy and the
Sundance Kid
.” IMDB. IMDB.com,
Inc. 1990-2013. Web. 12, Oct. 2013. 

Prince, Stephen R. Movies and Meaning: an Introduction to
Film
. 6th ed. Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc., 2013.
Print.  

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