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Escape from Pretoria – 2020 Annan
- Escape from Pretoria is a film that eluded many in 2020 and should be sought out by cinema enthusiasts.
- Francis Annan has created a very solid entry in the annals of the prison break subgenre. Daniel Radcliffe leads the way for the cast—but really it is here because of the strong use of the split diopter and full frame compositions.
- It opens with documentary footage and Radcliffe’s voice-over. Most of the negative reviews point out the semi-successful attempt to make this a realism The Battle of Algiers-like political argument of a movie—and that’s fair—but if you take that out (and remove the opening would probably be for the best)- you’d have a roughly 90-minute, (we are in the prison within the first five minutes of the film) detailed (a very dogmatic approach to the escape, keys), prison break film with Annan’s spectacular use of the split diopter and frame as I said.
- You’ll lose track after a while- but here seems to be a dozen or more uses of the split diopter. One is in the cafeteria of the prison, there’s another great one in the green bathroom as well. Here the split diopter is to showcase eavesdropping and heighten the threat of getting heard/caught. It is a perfect use of the stylistic tool. Annan often uses it just to get all three heads in the frame (Daniel Webber and Mark Leonard Winter join Radcliffe as the escapees) and get multiple reactions instead of crudely cutting.
- Date titles marking the passing time- “Day 296” and “Day 404”
- Honestly, the best part of the narrative outside of the prison break momentum is Mark Leonard Winter (looking like a young, French, Daniel Day Lewis) and his son.
- Another use of that split diopter would be at the 81-minute mark with the guards tossing Radcliffe’s cell—magnificent– De Palma would be proud
- Recommend but not in the top 10 of 2020