About The Location
REINDEER GAMES takes place in the frigid, blanched-out winter of the Midwest, a landscape that matches the bleak life Rudy Duncan has led so far, despite his hopes that everything will now change. "I think John has done a brilliant job of making the environment part of the story and even using the actor's discomfort i n their performances," says Marty Katz.
The icy terrain that Rudy Duncan traverses as he tries to outsmart the con games that surround him lent itself well to Frankenheimer's trademark style, which avoids special effects in favor of a stark minimalism. "For me, the bottom line is that the action sequences and the dramatic sequences have to be equally real, they have to be utterly believable. I want to have the audience suspend their disbelief the moment the lights go down and stay in that state of wonder throughout the film," comments Frankenheimer.
Frankenheimer always starts by visualizing his action sequences and works with a storyboard artist to sketch out the scenes prior to the shoot. His style includes elaborate pre-production, careful advance preparation of sets, locations, costumes, props, effects and even camera movements.
Yet once on the set, he stays open to surprises. "I believe in planning out certain shots and rehearsing my actors, working out the characters and their motivations in every scene," says Frankenheimer, "but once we are shooting, things usually turn out completely different from what I had envisioned. With REINDEER GAMES, a lot of the dramatic sequences involved improvised staging and a lot of the action sequences involved spontaneous ideas. Everyday was a challenge but that's the way it should be."
Frankenheimer's creativity comes to the fore in REINDEER GAMES with the kind of camerawork and visual tone for which he has gained renown: the use of extreme depth of focus, a lot of wide angle lenses and a constant swirl of camera movements. "I believe in using the camera to tell as much of the story visually as possible," explains Frankenheimer. "This to me is what gives a motion picture its texture and substance."
Frankenheimer's touch is also evident in the high-contrast palette of REINDEER GAMES which emphasizes bright snow, grey skies and shadowy actions. "I always desaturate the color as much as I can," admits Frankenheimer. "The truth is I have always preferred black & white movies, so I shoot in color almost as if it were black & white. I think this also works for the tone of REINDEER GAMES."
Ultimately it is that very special visual and keenly suspenseful tone that once again sets apart John Frankenheimer's work and invites audiences to enter a harrowing, often humorous, world of traps, tricks and constant obstacles to moral behavior. "Ultimately REINDEER GAMES asks the question of whether or not crime pays," says John
Frankenheimer, "but the answer is a lot more tricky than Rudy Duncan bargains for."
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