While Richard Moore is credited as the cinematographer for The Wild Angels, the film was completed through a communal effort by Richard Corman (director), Monte Hellman (editor), and Charles Griffith (writer), and it is hard to say who shot, wrote, or edited individual scenes. The movie was shot on location in Coachella Valley for a grand total of three weeks, which is not surprising, judging by the quality of the shots themselves.
There are not many examples of good cinematography in this film, but there is one specifically that comes to mind that I believe had good intentions, but the execution was poor. There is a scene near the beginning of the movie where we are first introduced to the entire biker gang, and they are headed to the city where they think Loser’s bike is. The camera seems to be set on or as close to the ground as it can get, and we get an approximately 30 second, uninterrupted clip of the gang driving on an empty highway in an empty desert, towards our point of view. This shot is far too long, and extremely boring. The bikers are also too far away for most of the shot, you can’t even really see them until about halfway through the scene! The first half of the shot should, in my opinion, definitely be cut out. However, once the bikes arrive to where the camera is stationed, things get a little more interesting. The angle makes the motorcycles seem big and powerful, which is exactly how the characters themselves feel when they are driving them, and how they want the audience to feel when they think about the characters. I think this last part definitely adds to the impression and understanding of our bikers, but like I said earlier, it is surrounded by a lot of unnecessary fluff.
One of the more positive examples of cinematography is in the scene where Gaysh gets sexually assaulted during the party at the church, in what was supposed to be Loser’s funeral. As soon as Gaysh gets up off the floor, there is a difference in how the camera moves. It seems to be handheld, which gives off a more chaotic energy, and is pretty shaky and slow-moving. This makes sense, considering Gaysh is obviously somewhat drunk and/or drugged in this scene, and is moving around quite shaky and slowly herself. As the scene continues, the camera moves through a crowd of people at the party, making it hard to clearly see Gaysh through the heads. To me, this is supposed to be hinting that nobody else is noticing what just happened to her, and nobody at the party is paying her the slightest bit of attention, including us. As she fights through the crowd, the audience gets the impression that she is truly alone, with nobody on her side. I think this sequence does a really good job of adding to the narrative, and really showing how much anguish and pain Gaysh is going through.
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