How ‘The Godfather’ Influenced ‘Breaking Bad’ And ‘El Camino’ Teaser Breakdown | Pop Culture Decoded

How ‘The Godfather’ Influenced ‘Breaking Bad’ And ‘El Camino’ Teaser Breakdown | Pop Culture Decoded


Carter Thallon: On this episode of the “Pop Culture Decoded” show,
it’s all “Breaking Bad.” We look at how “Breaking
Bad” relates to Westerns and “The Godfather,” we
dissect an iconic scene, and we’ll break down a new teaser for the “El Camino” movie. With the release of the
upcoming “Breaking Bad” movie, “El Camino,” we wanted to take a look back at the original series
and dissect a few scenes. Nate, what do you want
to talk about today? Nate Lee: So, I brought in the episode 11 from season
four, “Crawl Space.” It’s one of my favorite episodes just because so many things happened, and also technically, I think it’s definitely
something worth talking about. It is very, very interesting. And, before we talk about it,
I think we need to sort of talk about the cinematographer. I think he’s played such an important role in the show, right? So, how I wanna talk about
this is, according to him, there were three big influences when he was filming “Breaking Bad.” One is, surprisingly, “Godfather.” It’s very different visually, but actually there’s a lot in common. And I think it’s especially evident in a lot of interior scenes. So, we’re gonna look at this
scene from “Crawl Space.” It’s when Walter is talking to Tyrus, but I mostly wanna talk
about lighting here. So, what “Godfather” is very famous for is it was the very first film that did a very unique sort of lighting, which was sort of the very
minimal overhead lighting, and if you actually see, especially in a lot of the meth lab scene, is that they actually use
a lot of overhead lights. If you actually see the
overall lighting in the place, there’s a lot of lamps right above. You can see a lot of that, and especially if you look at right here, you can see shadows,
a lot of shadows here. A lot of shadows, which
is very kind of peculiar, ’cause a lot of TV shows and movies, they light the face a lot. And also that’s why they use reflectors to sort of bounce the light off. But actually what’s funny is instead of bouncing the light onto the
face, they bounce it off, and then it sort of gets dispersed here. And a lot of lighting
is just on their body and not their face, and what it does is it adds sort of a complexity to the lighting. You know, and I think a lot of problem that I have with modern television is everything is so well lit. “Breaking Bad” uses a lot of
different shadows and lights, and there’s definitely a
contrast to it, and also, if you look at it a lot,
you can definitely see– Carter: Yeah, like right there? So dark. Nate: Yeah. Especially in the
close-up scenes of the faces, you can definitely see
sort of a line forming. The light is obviously coming from here. There’s no direct light
coming onto his face. Carter: Yeah, you see the outline. Nate: Right, right, so it sort
of divides his face in half, where one part of his
face is sort of lit up but another part of his face is not. And that’s actually also
something that “Godfather” sort of uses. Carter: OK, yeah. Nate: Albeit a little differently. So, “Godfather” cinematography
by Gordon Willis, who is a very important figure in the history of cinematography, also uses a lot of shadows, and he was, in a lot of ways, one of the very first person to do this
in mainstream, big cinema. And how he used it a lot is,
again, he used overhead shots. And that, what it does is
it puts a lot of shadowing near the eyes. Actually, there’s a very
funny story where someone from the studio said, “You
know, I can’t see the eye. Like, I can’t see what’s happening.” And the director and the
cinematographer would say that it doesn’t really matter. He really wanted to focus sort of on the entire expression of the
face rather than the eye, which is usually how
actors these days act, using their eyes. But he actually really wanted to focus on using the entire face to sort of act. Carter: So, the lighting
that you’re talking about really accentuates
certain parts of his face and gives it more depth. You see the shadows
causing the deepest blacks and really like an abyss and really conveys his emotion as pain. Nate: Right. It really
makes it more complex ’cause you have, like, places
where it’s really well lit and then where it’s half lit and then where it’s sort
of like very darkly lit. So it’s like, it does add complexity and, as you said, depth. So that was it for me. What did you want to talk about, Carter? Carter: I want to talk about a scene from season three, episode one, “No Más.” [truck breaks squealing] [truck door slamming] Man: What the hell’s going on in there? Carter: So, in this scene,
the Salamanca cousins are arriving from Mexico, going across the border,
getting smuggled in in this truck full of hay
with some other immigrants. I wanna talk about this scene right here. We get a great frame within a frame, so what I mean by that is
the camera’s inside the truck and you get this natural frame
of the back of the hay truck that points your eye
towards the action here. Nate: Now that I’m just
looking at the frame, do you know that ending
scene in “Searchers”? It’s another, like, very famous Western. Yeah, which has been very influential, and I’m seeing this resembles that a lot. Carter: Yeah, so then as we continue here, we go to a very interesting shot. We get to this giant, wide shot. Our eyes are looking at
just these small, small figures in this vast landscape. So, why do you think they
chose to go to this shot? Nate: We’re, in a way, sort of turning away from the violence. We’re taking a step back and looking at it and sort of showing how this
violence is so meaningless, how it’s so quick, and when
you look at it from far away, it’s just nothing. When, in fact, if we had a close-up, it would have had a huge impact, you know, seeing this, like, intense
moment, up-close scene, the fear. But there’s almost no
emotion in this scene. That’s what I’m getting. Carter: I definitely agree with that. It’s clear that it’s an
average day for them, almost. They’ve done this many times. Nate: That makes the
violence even more brutal. ‘Cause, like, you know, in
horror movies it’s always about what you imagine is worse
than what you actually see. Carter: The cinematographer
actually singled this shot out in a couple of interviews
as one of his favorites, and what he said was: [gun bangs] So, I thought that was another
really interesting point that he raised up, that the
audience is trained by media and probably by “Breaking Bad” as well, that they’re gonna get this violence and get, you know, a close-up
of someone getting shot. Nate: They’re sort of playing
with our expectations. Carter: They’re playing
with our expectations, and also just a great shot
of the composition of, you know, just a built-in dichotomy between the beauty of the scene and the violence and death
that the cousins are bringing. Nate: So, during the Emmys, the new teaser for “El Camino” dropped. It didn’t seem like there was a lot, but it seemed like the
fans were picking it apart. And they actually found
a surprising number of sort of hints and clues. Did you notice anything? Carter: Yeah, I did notice something. So, let’s take a look here. So, first of all, this is the El Camino that Jesse escaped in after the last episode of “Breaking Bad.” That’s Todd’s El Camino. So, right here, someone on Reddit actually lightened the image and found some of the same rock formations in the background and found out that it was
actually the exact same place where Jesse and Walt first cooked, which is also where
“Ozymandias” took place, where Hank died, and where Walt buried his money, and then on the radio they’re
talking about nine bodies. So, we took a look back
at the finale to confirm, and it is eight Nazis that Walt killed, and then Walt himself. So that would be nine. So that’s it for this teaser, but a full trailer actually
came out the next day, and our team here at
Insider broke that down. So if you wanna watch that,
check out our YouTube channel. Nate: That’s it for today. We’ll see you next time. You know, studios should
really let the filmmakers do their job and not get in the way. Carter: Yeah, studios,
if you’re listening. Nate: Studios.

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