Golden Ratio On Film: The Math In There Will Be Blood’s Cinematography

Via i09 Ali Shirazi explores the geometry of Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood, finding the golden spirals, examples of the Rule of Thirds, and tracking shot mathematics describing the film’s cinematography.

This is the first in what will be a series of films exploring Anderson’s directing style. It’s a fascinating watch, and it would be interesting to see Shirazi apply similar studies to other directors, examining the math that can be found in the art of filmmaking. Edit: And to see whether his analysis differs with different directors, or if this is just, as many commenters have suggested, an example of golden ratio pareidolia.


There Will Be Blood / Through Numbers from Ali Shirazi on Vimeo.

  • oneironauticus

    “or if this is just, as many commenters have suggested, an example of golden ratio pareidolia”


    that photographers and I would imagine, cinematographers, are pretty much trained to notice and utilize these proportions, whether or not they understand them mathematically…

    Artists, designers, etc. all use the golden ratio or else deliberately try to break the tendency towards using it…

    • rhetorics_killer

      I thought the same watching this film. Golden numbered proportions are in our atavism, as well as in every living organism. Snails for example have their shell in the exact line of logarythmic spiral. The legendary Da Vinci drawing of the Man is the key to this understanding: we are made-up with golden proportions Of course many humans have lost their way with basic instinct, and by so need mathematical approach to convince themselves they are part of this world too!

  • dragline

    I’m probably going to sound ignorant here, but I’m fairly certain this is a bunch of gibberish.

  • lifobryan

    Every Filmmaking 101 book covers the “rule of thirds.”

    Hmmmm … y’know, I always suspected most Cinematographers were Rosicrucians.
    In addition to composing camera angles, Cinematographers are also responsible for lighting the movie set. This suggests they may be in league with the Illuminati, or even Lucifer himself (whose name means “light bearer”). Or, perhaps when a Cinematographer lights the “set” he is merely re-enacting the ancient Egyptian ritual cycle of Horus conquering Set.