Cinematography Breakdown: Snatch
Tim Maurice-Jones' work, in this particular case, is highly characterized by its unique presentation of scene and photography. Each scene offers a flavorful spectrum of grit and texture brought to life by a variety of camera techniques. The picture was produced by SKA, a humble British film company, and distributed by Columbia.
The film presents obvious noir overtones due to its central theme concentrated around gangs and organized international crime. The settings, characters, and dialogue largely underline these elements. The camera work plays an inaugural role in mystifying these characters while creating a chaotic pace and edge of your seat delivery to every on-screen situation. The diversity in settings evokes a significant sense of transnationalism as if encouraging audiences to pick sides and align themselves with a particular group of mafiosos. Almost as if making you an accomplice of sorts to an antagonistic character you can't help but empathize with.
Use of camera shots
The abundant use of extreme close-ups merged with outstanding use of the dolly allows the camera to be tight on the characters while in movement. The proximity to the characters perfectly accentuates the emotions of the characters, almost as if we could see their thoughts. Providing a particular level of tridimensionality and again solidifying our relationship with the characters. Thanks to the fleeting use of montage shots, the audience is made part of a stream of consciousness that, however challenging it is to read, provides us a glimpse into the psyche of these on-screen individuals. A particular scene worth mentioning concerning the latter is the sudden flashback "Franky 4-fingers" encounters at the mere mention of 'Las Vegas.' The use of flashbacks, despite its apparent sporadic use in the film, is somehow a staple of the narrative, as it provides context for the audience.
As a recurring theme, the narrative, although not precisely linear, relies heavily on the use of close shots to build tension by magnifying character dialogue and reactions—shifting simple dialogue scenes into pressure riddled exposition. Quite frankly, as a spectator, the sense of threat is omnipresent.
Cinematographer Tim Maurice-Jones deliberately used camera positioning to benefit the scene, the characters, and the situations. For example, to accentuate the uneasiness of "Boris" cutting off the arm of another, the camera was placed low, looking up at them. If the camera is low, so is our perspective leaving us feeling small, and weak consequently doing the opposite for "Boris" who is now all the more intimidating.
As gruesome as the story is, the use of fast-paced quirky montage shots is also attempting to underline the comicality of it all. We would go on a limb and say that the story would not work as effectively if the humor element were not present. The humor is dry, witty, and sharp, serving to humanize these dreadful characters. The camera and editing style play a role in showcasing the mood. Dispersed throughout the film, bits of slap-stick humor is present emphasized by paralleling camerawork.
The nonlinear sagacity of time only amplifies the film's dream-like perception. "Snatch" is a movie that progresses by looking back, the concept of time itself gets stretched by the abundant use of freezing action shots, to portray the character's intention and reinforce the abstract perception of time. The latter is also strongly amplified by the use of slow-motion. It is in substance; a factual reality represented employing memories and highly dynamic shots.
Lastly, to execute the constant feeling of physical movement, aside from heavy use of tracking shots, a technique that fleetingly triggers a borderline first-person perspective, it is possible to notice the extensive use of trunk shots. By placing the camera both on the trunk, and sporadically on the back seat, Tim Maurice Jones ( director of photography) manages to convey a sense of participation, enables the viewer to tag along in the quest. The level of engrossment with the script, as well as character depth, enhances an equidimensional perception of the cinematic work itself.