There’s this very nice scene in Steven Spielberg’s latest Indiana Jones slog where the aging, tired-looking and paunchy titular adventurer enter a combination prison-insane asylum looking for some info.
The lighting shift as he moves from a sunlit street into the almost cave-like entrance of the forbidding structure is so assuredly accomplished that the action immediately grabs your attention. He walks down a forbidding corridor lined with barred doors, listening to the helpless cries that escape the cracks. Spielberg is cutting and tracking beautifully and attentively; with brilliant restraint, he cuts to a prisoner only once, showing just enough to let us know of the man’s plight and to imagine that of his fellow inmates.
Jones rounds a corner and is let into a cell. Once he’s inside, the visual dynamic undergoes a profound shift similar to the street-entrance lighting contrast. From a cramped, dark corridor, we find ourselves in a surprisingly large cell, half lift with daylight from a high window and half latticed with dry, gray shadow.
Great filmmaking, that bit. And that’s about it for this Spielberg outing, which is about as much fun as getting a root canal while seated next to a pounding jackhammer.