Hit Me With Your Best Shot: Under the Skin (2013)

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I am so glad with this week’s Hit Me With Your Best Shot decision. If it weren’t for t Nathaniel, who hosts the series over at The Film Experience, picking Under the Skin this week, I may have never realized there was a big bump in my initial experience with the film. I was a big admirer of the film when I watched it in theaters back in April, but if you read my initial review, you will find the following sentence: “Sometime towards the end, the camera adopts a weird color filter that doesn’t seem to add much to the film, but that reveals itself as an awesome decision with the last, wonderful, images of the movie.” Because of the experimental and unique nature the movies’ visuals, I assumed that this “weird” color filter was part of the aesthetic director Jonathan Glazer and cinematographer Daniel Landin were going for. It wasn’t until I watched the film on DVD a couple days ago that I realized this whole “color filter” nonsense was, in fact, a projection mistake.

With the intention of not looking like an idiot who didn’t recognize something had gone wrong during my screening, let me please explain what happened. Whatever the mistake was on the projection, the result was that the movie acquired a pink hue, as if it had been filmed, like I said, with a color filter. You could also see some weird water markings on the screen. The mistake, curiously enough, happened at a pretty convenient moment, precisely at the turing point when Scarlet Johansson’s character goes from “being the predator” to “becoming the prey.” The change in the movie’s color hue would make some sort of sense, echoing the character’s realization that she is in danger or something like that, but like I said in my review, it didn’t seem to add much to the movie, so it makes complete sense that it isn’t actually a part of it.

**Before I go on to tell you what my favorite shot of Under the Skin is, let me point out that my pick might be considered a spoiler, so either stop reading now, or continue if you have already seen the film and/or you don’t care about being spoiled**

The other thing I mention in that quote from my review is how this whole color thing pays off in the final moments of the film. Having now seen the movie as it was intended, let me tell you that the moment is equally effective. Ever since I saw it for the first time, I’ve come to regard Under the Skin as somewhat of a feminist movie where even a great threat to humanity becomes prey to men’s desires just because it takes the form of a woman. What ends up happening to Scarlett Johansson’s character is, to me, the most gut-wrenching moment in a movie that is filled with unsettling filmmaking. And the way it is photographed, with the vibrant fire against the woods and the fallen snow, a splash of color in what is basically a black-and-white background, makes it even more violent.

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