Saturday, 26 January 2008

Lost Countdown: No. 9

With only four days to go until it returns, I present the ninth reason I have for loving Lost.

The outrageous beauty of Hawaii:

In my Face/Off! contests between films or TV shows that share some kind of connection and cry out for an overly complex scoring system to decide which is somehow superior, one of the categories I judge them on is production values. It's one score out of 18 (usually), and is often just a way to award a few points to some aspect of the movie or film that I figure needs to be rewarded. It covers everything; in D-Wars it was the superb action scene towards the end of the movie, in The Reaping it was the crisp photography.

Why have a catch-all? Because I don't want to get into praising a movie just on the professionalism of the people making it. That's a sure-fire way to get into a Face/Off situation between Dark Star and Supernova and end up with Supernova winning because it had a billion wasted dollars thrown at it while Dark Star cost about 20 cents. I guess I'm trying to figure out a way to quantify the hidden qualities of works of art, and right now it's not perfect, but it did help me figure out which was the worst movie of 2007, so it has its uses.

In the case of Lost, the production values are high thanks to the large budget still being thrown at it (thank God it's successful), and it is beautifully photographed and designed and edited, and I love all of that, but the thing that sets it apart from everything else on TV is the use of the Hawaiian island of Oahu, which is possibly the most beautiful place on earth. Maybe. Switzerland might beat it, now that I think about it, but my God, those panoramic shots of Oahu blow the mind.

The show has been using the mountainous vistas of the island pretty regularly, but it has yet to get boring. Even in the most recent season, the shot of Juliet disembarking from the Mittelos submarine and being presented with the sight of the cliffs above the Pala Ferry dock was jawdropping.

Though Oahu isn't the biggest of the Hawaiian islands, it is the most heavily populated, and the amount of urban space and human activity has given the showrunners plenty of non-green locations to use in an attempt to recreate the world. Some websites have found the locations for many of the flashback scenes, primarily the banks and streets and water features of Honolulu that have doubled for international cities and urban areas (I especially like the fast food caravan in the first link that ended up being the site of Sawyer's ill-advised revenge attack in the first season episode Outlaws). Luckily for the showrunners, there are also some very peculiar places littering the island that have come in handy to present the otherworldly nature of the island and its previous denizens. This abandoned coast guard facility was used as the Omega Station in season three, housing the seriously freaky Room 23, while defunct tourist attraction Paradise Park doubled as the site of Kate and Sawyer's incarceration. Also great is how the showrunners write parts of the landscape into the plot of the show. The ominous rock formation known as the "Chair of Pele" featured prominently in the season two episode Three Minutes, though what it represents is still a mystery. Is it part of the Ruins? Or is it connected to the still-unexplained four-toed statue?

All of this (and the many photos on the excellent Lost Virtual Tour) has made me seriously consider embarking on a pilgrimage to the island once the show has finished its six season run. As I haven't told Canyon this yet, I can imagine there is a very shocked blogger out there right now. Hope that's okay with you, Canyon! [Not that shocked, really. It had to happen sometime. And I'm not going to complain about having to go to Hawaii. -- Canyon]

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