Just what is the “magic hour,” exactly? According to producer Phillip Hobbs, it’s “that delightful time in the day when everyone is exhausted and the light is just perfect.” For those who aren’t hip to filmmaking jargon, it’s that golden moment that separates dusk from twilight – when the sky is tinged with poetic splashes of purple and pink and it seems as though anything is possible.
Filmmakers understandably love the magic hour; cinematographers even more so. Hell, Terrence Malick has a magic hour shot in just about every one of his movies (his last outing as a director, “To The Wonder,” often felt like one endless magic hour montage). It’s a powerful cinematic tool when used properly, and for those who are eager to see it in action, this new supercut via Fandor highlights some of the silver screen’s most memorable magic hour moments.
Among the many of the highlighted films are Spike Jonze’s aching childhood lullaby “Where the Wild Things Are,” Sofia Coppola’s luminous “Marie Antoinette” and, perhaps inevitably, Terrence Malick’s “Days Of Heaven.” Each selected film showcases a different example of the magic hour in action, and each shot is equally effective when taken on its own respective terms. It’s interesting to consider how this specific cinematic technique can elicit such a wide range of emotional responses, especially in regards to what it says about natural aesthetics in cinema and the virtues of that philosophy. Plus, on a totally superficial level, it just looks cool.
Check out the supercut below.