SPOILERS FOR MISSION IMPOSSIBLE
The first Mission Impossible is gorgeously directed, but it was this shot in particular that stood out the most to me. It makes use of De Palma’s trademark split diopter focus and it’s composed in an interesting way, which is what I’ll talk about in the next few words.
On the image you can see two things happening at once; in the background, there’s the car in which Hannah’s sitting that explodes, and in the foreground, there’s Clair looking at the camera, while holding a detonator. Instead of having the explosion in focus first and then switch over to Emmanuelle Béart’s (Claire’s) face, De Palma kept both in focus at the same time, since both things are happening at the same time and both are equally as important. Due to the usage of split diopter focus, both Emmanuelle Béart and the explosion stay in focus, with a blurred line between them. He wants us to focus on both things together, rather than first on one thing and then on the next. They’re both equally as important and they have equally as much to say. The exploding car marks the death of Hannah, while the reveal of Claire holding the detonator tells us that she’s the one responsible. Plus this technique gives the shot a unique and distinctive look.
I also like the composition in this one. He used one basic rule of photography and subverted it. Usually, photographers will try to both have an interesting background and foreground, which De Palma did in this shot; the exploding car in the background and Claire in the foreground. He subverted this rule by throwing the split diopter focus into the mix, which leaves us with a visually interesting shot. There’s also a big distance between the two subjects shown, possibly symbolizing how far apart she was from Hannah character-wise, and to accentuate the fact that Hannah’s dead and Claire alive, but it also tells us something rather obvious, which is that she’s standing quite the distance from the car.
And that’s briefly why I think that it’s quite a cool shot. The film’s scattered with iconic shots, but I went with this one since it’s rarely talked about. What’s your favorite shot of the first Mission Impossible film? Comment down below!
Just a reminder that I’m having a Mission Impossible-Week on this blog, where I write An Ode To the Mission Impossible Franchise, a Here’s a Cool Shot about one of the shots in the series, Review the newest film, and finally Rank all six.
Also, if you’re interested in writing a Here’s a Cool Shot about a shot you like yourself, please let me know via email (firstname.lastname@example.org).