Time-lapse, time map: the photographic body of San Francisco in David Fincher’s Zodiac


Sutton, D. 2011. Time-lapse, time map: the photographic body of San Francisco in David Fincher’s Zodiac. L’Atalante: Revista de Estudios Cinematográficos.
TitleTime-lapse, time map: the photographic body of San Francisco in David Fincher’s Zodiac
AuthorsSutton, D.

This article discusses the continued reliance of the cinema image on the notion of the photographic, as expressed in the 2007 Warner Bros. film Zodiac (David Fincher). This police procedural movie details the story of detectives and newspaper reporters as they follow the trail of the Zodiac, a serial killer who terrorised California residents in the late-1960s and early 1970s, sending taunting letters to the San Francisco Chronicle. The production involves extensive use of digital set-building and CGI compositing in order to reproduce the look and feel of the period, and is interspersed with segue sequences including an apparent time-lapse shot of the construction of the Transamerica building. Although this was created entirely digitally, the sequence relies heavily on the details expected of time-lapse photography, and therefore illustrates how the new digital cinema makes use of the codes and conventions of analogue cinematography. This is particularly significant because the time-lapse sequence as a technical flourish occurs within the feature film, which ordinarily makes the mechanics of cinema transparent. Unlike contemporary film and video art practice, studio features are not expected to explore the framing of time overtly but instead to reflect as much as possible our commonplace cultural conceptions. Using the ideas of Gilles Deleuze and Kurt Lewin, this article explores the cinematic creation of hodological time, achieved through a reference to film’s photographic legacy, and the establishment in digital filmmaking of a cinema of the body.

KeywordsPhotography, Cinema, Deleuze, Lewin, hodological, time-lapse, Zodiac, Fincher
Research GroupVisual Culture and Curating cluster
PublisherAsociación Cinefórum Atalante
JournalL’Atalante: Revista de Estudios Cinematográficos
Publication dates
Print01 Jan 2011
Publication process dates
Deposited04 May 2011
Output statusPublished
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