Let the Right One In

Moving Pictures: Let The Right One In

Posted on:  September 21, 2009

I‘ve already given my two cents about this film back in January so I won’t be redundant. I did mention then how impressed I was at the way this movie was shot. It’s a true study of composition and a great example of how films can achieve an the extra level of richness by adding a visual subtext to the narrative. Overall the look of this movie is reminiscent of the late eighties Polish mini-series called The Decalogue by acclaimed director Krzysztof Kieslowski

Isolation, desolation and the dark side of humanity are at the heart of this film. It is enhanced further visually in a photography and production design sense. It is set in the early 1980’s just outside of Stockholm, Sweden during winter. The cold weather, the desaturated winter colors give out a very foreboding and bleak essence. The sharpness of the intersecting horizontal and vertical lines exude feelings of imprisonment and captivity. All of these intelligently designed elements help make this genre-busting film elevate itself from the glut of vampire films that have come before and after it. (I think you know which ones I am talking about)
And at it’s core is a story that features simplicity in setting and complexity in character. It is more about people and less about vampirism. Which is why i’ll be watching this one over and over for years to come.
(A word about about subtitles: If you click on the comments section, you can follow the discussion about the rather mediocre dub and english subtitles on the DVD. This was something that I was aware of beforehand but was rather negligent to point out. So to make things clear, the North American release of LTROI does not contain the original english theatrical subtitles, which follows closely the swedish dialogue in the film. And for reasons unknown, Magnet and Magnolia films decided to go with a totally newer set of subtitles in the North American version.

But let not the clamour of the natives be under-estimated! Apparently the folks at Magnet and Magnolia Pictures are responding to the public backlash and will be releasing a new version with the original english subtitles. The full subtitle thread and update is HERE

Having seen both the theatrical and North American DVD versions, I have to admit that a considerable amount of subtlety is lost. But in my opinion, the film can still be enjoyed and appreciated viewing the DVD version so the choice is up to you. Either way…… don’t watch it dubbed!

Thanks to artist Benton Jew for the help!)

Copyright 2008 Magnolia Pictures

Running time: 115 minutes – Country: Sweden
Director: Tomas Alfredson – Cinematographer: Hoyte Van Hoytema
Production Design: Eva’ Noren

Winter in June

Posted on:  June 18, 2009

I took a little break away from digital recently and painted this scene. Inspiration came when I was re-watching the tremendously cool vampire movie Let the Right One In. The Swedish winter backdrop was mesmerizing and haunting.
Painted using my trusty Windsor & Newton Cotman set along with a 12 gauge watercolor and medium water brush for detail.

Double Stuff

Posted on:  January 17, 2009

Here’s a sketch I did a few days ago while sitting outside a local supermarket. My Modbook had about 30 percent battery life left so I had to work quick. It’s done with my usual Photoshop settings. After completing this set I got the dreaded, “You’re about to run out of juice” message so I saved and powered down.

That’s when I switched to traditional since I was already warmed up. Those I have to scan and post another day for you.

Oddly enough, this one lady was dressed like the character “Nina” from my brother Ronnie’s Paper Biscuit books so she definitely caught my attention. (the real subject had a little one sitting in the cart)


On a different note, I had the opportunity to watch the acclaimed Swedish horror film LET THE RIGHT ONE IN last night at work. It’s definitely one of the better films i’ve seen lately.

This movie is visually stunnning and a great one to study for composition. It uses that rather familiar european minimalist style to it’s advantage. Set in the early eighties it tells the story of boy living in a Stockholm suburb who befriends a intriguingly strange girl who moves in next door.

What I truly love about this film is that it takes a genre and turns it on it’s head. It’s subtle, unnerving and genuinely emotional. It also demonstrates the effectiveness of story design using two complex and different characters and worlds, set against a simple back drop. Life is always a complex set of interweaving experiences and so is a good work of fiction. The tendency with most films set in a specific genre is to pay off the audience with expected events, all the while forgetting that there are no real absolutes in real life. People feel both love and hate, are both beligerent and kind, friend and foe. Here, director Tomas Alfredson weaves enough frightening tension and darkness with geniune innocence and purity of true love.

The story builds to really satisfying climax and one of the better endings i’ve seen in a while. This is what watching movies is about. A complete experience both viscerally and intellectually where the genuine emotions are stirred.

Oh and, if you like blood in your films, there’s a nice helping of it here.


… just found this out after putting up this post… The revered, modern american master Andrew Wyeth (1917 – 2009) has passed away at the age of 91. Wyeth painted in the realist style and is famous for his “Helga Paintings” in which he secretly painted a Prussian-born neighbor off and on for a period of 15 years. His tempera paintings are particularly intriguing and exuded a seemingly haunting quaility to them. He recieved the National Medal of Arts in 2007.

May he rest in peace.