Dir: Todd Haynes

DoP: Edward Lachman

Year: 2015

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Things To Consider

  • Haynes has said much of the influence for the look of Carol was from New York street photography of the 50’s. Much of our understanding of that period comes from those iconic images from the likes of Vivian Maier, Frank Larsen and Dennis Stock. It makes sense that Haynes and Lachman would try and translate that language to tell this story.
  • Consider how this approach is different from the approach taken in Haynes’ own Far From Heaven set in a similar time period, but using the language of Sirkian melodrama to tell its story. Is one approach more genuine that the other?  Time and time again Haynes borrows different cinematic languages to tell his stories, I strongly feel part of what interests him is the artifice, the fact that when we pay homage to an image when we crete the viewer sees both the homage and homage simultaneously.
  • Shot on Super 16mm Carol benefits from a gorgeous grain which mirrors not only the photography of the time but lends a degree of authenticity and realness to the film.
  • If the primary influence was New York Street photography (Black and White) we will have to discuss the colour here too. Lachman is a master at getting strong bold colours on to film. The film is tinted a green and accentuated with beautiful and bold pops of red (It is Christmas after all), amazingly this stylistic approach doesn’t take away from the “authenticity” of the images.
  • One of the recurring visual motifs is Therese (Rooney Mara) looking out a window, or shot through a window. To what end is this image used and reused. What does it tell us about Therese, about her agency, about how she is seen by the world and about how she sees the world?
  • Another interesting motif is how dialogue with Carol herself are shot. Go back and look at the images and pay close attention to the dialogue scens involing Carol, they’re shot quite different to other dialogue scenes. There is a lot of use of negative space, what does this tell us about Carol? She’s an intense character, and opens up a new and confusing world to Therese, the negative space here helps convey the otherworldliness of Carol.
  • With this in mind consider the final pair of shots of Carol and Therese looking at each other, framed in close up, centre of the screen and looking at each other. Compare this to the iconic shots of their first encounter, as their eyes meet across the toy store. Its simple storytelling, but its remarkably effective.

Further Research


Purchase U.S.

Purchase U.K.


One thought on “Carol

  1. Being overshadowed by more flashy examples of visual greatness shown in movies as The Assassin or The Revenant, I am still convinced that of all movies released in 2015, Carol had the best cinematography. Simply transcendent beauty in every single frame.

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