LIGHTS, CAMERA . . .
The camera angles that signal 'Doubt'
Roger Deakins, the film's cinematographer, describes his precursors.
Suspicion of Philip Seymour Hoffman's priest is triggered by Amy Adams' nun. (Miramax Film Corp)
When seeking a visual reference for "Doubt," writer-director John Patrick Shanley told me that he was drawn to the work of Carol Reed, though not to his most famous film, "The Third Man," which uses the Dutch angle to perfection. John Patrick was drawn to a lesser-known film of his, "The Fallen Idol" (also known as "The Lost Illusion"), the plot of which centers around a boy who thinks he is a witness to murder and the web of secrets and half truths that surround this suspicion.
Carol Reed shoots much of the film from the boy's perspective and utilizes the "Dutch angle" to great effect, heightening the boy's conflicting emotions and his feeling of disorientation.
The plot of "Doubt" has many similarities. When it came to filming "Doubt," John Patrick had a series of very specific moments where he wanted to use the same technique that Carol Reed had employed. "Doubt" is generally photographed in a naturalistic way with few elaborate camera moves or tricks that, hopefully, allow the audience to get immersed in the story with little distraction. The occasional use of Dutch angles, then, acts as a punctuation of sorts, a signpost to the audience that things are not necessarily all that they seem to be.
-- Roger Deakins, cinematographer