WATCH: Video essay explores David Fincher's obscene attention to detail

Obscuring Mastery

A video essay from Kristian Williams explores David Fincher’s obscene attention to detail.

In many ways, filmmaking is a thankless venture. Everything you do in the entire production process is creating work that mustn’t get noticed. After all, cinema is magic. The trick of replicating the mundane is key because this is exactly what blurs your perception of what’s on the screen from what’s around you in real life.

David Fincher is a master. His hands are one of the deftest pairs working in contemporary cinema. That isn’t up for debate. Nor is it an arbitrary remark; I don’t say this based off of the filmmaker’s many accolades and recognition, but on the mastery he puts in his work.

Video essayist Kristian Williams has just posted a video that explores his obscene attention to detail and his methods (which are on another level). From the subtle tilt-shifting effect in one of the key moments in The Social Network, the literal creation of an entire city as a main character in Zodiac, to the taxing compositing as a crucial visual storytelling technique in The Girl With A Tattoo, Williams discusses, in brief, why Fincher has earned his respect.

Watch the video below.

The hook is how Fincher, like the best literary editors, appreciates details—even clinically so. His laborious use of visual effects—once, he had Brad Pitt act out a scene in The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button in front of a blue screen to generate a much desolate look as his character ages and shrinks—are done in service of the story. It is all about the final print, isn’t it? When you find yourself awestruck by a magic trick, the thrill is to the magician who knows the whole world of detail underneath.

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