David Fincher Month moves on with 'ZODIAC'

by Joey Paur

Five years after Panic Room came out David Fincher released yet another amazing film ‘Zodiac'. I loved this film. It really shows how far Fincher has developed as a director in every way possible. His ability to direct actors, his camera work, setting up shots, story, and technologically were all extremely fine tuned. This man is constantly getting better as a director.‘Zodiac' is based on the true story of a serial killer in San Francisco that would taunt the police and newspapers by sending them cryptic messages. The movie follows cartoonist Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhall) as he becomes obsessed with discovering who the Zodiac killer is.

This movie is an amazing depiction of the events that took place during this time period. As you may or may not know I am a history fanatic and I love reading about stuff like this and watching the documentaries on the History Channel. The movie is incredibly accurate when you compare it to what really happened. Here is a fantastic documentary included with the DVD that is a must watch for the fact that they go through and interview all of the original people involved with the case. I hate that this case was never officially solved.

David Fincher does a great job grabbing the audience and placing them in this time and place. Putting you right there with the major players following them as they try to discover who the Zodiac killer is. He does such an amazing job keeping the audience in the dark with the police and Robert. They have know idea who it is and neither does the audience. Sure we can all speculate it was Arthur Leigh Allen. But was it really?

There were many people out there who thought the movie was way to long. I didn't I thought it was fine. Hell, I could have watched more if it would have helped movie the story forward. At the same time I am not your average movie goer, which is why it didn't do that well at the box office. There are only a hand full of movie geeks in the world that can sit through a movie almost 3 hours long. But I truly did enjoy this movie.

The acting was fantastic by everyone. There was no weak link in this film at all. Everyone brought their A-game. The movie starred Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Edwards, Robert Downey Jr., Brian Cox, and Chloe Sevigny.

I'm shocked this movie was not nominated for any Oscar's. It was one of the best films of the year.

This is another David Fincher movie you should watch the special feature for. If you have not yet watched them you must. You will not believe how many shots in this film were done digitally. It's incredible how they made this movie. Here is a little taste of what I am talking about.

Here is some stuff about the movie you might not know that makes for great trivia:

  • 'Shane Salerno,' optioned the Robert Graysmith book, "Zodiac," when he was just nineteen years old and developed it with Graysmith for several years before selling it to Disney's Touchstone Pictures in a seven figure deal. Salerno wrote several drafts of the screenplay before multiple administration changes at Touchstone derailed the project.


  • Edited using Final Cut Pro.


  • Scenes of Dave Toschi and Robert Graysmith watching Dirty Harry (1971) were filmed inside the Mann National Theatre in Westwood, CA. The garish color schemes of the movie theater were not added by the art department. The very retro interiors of the theater have remained unchanged since 1969, when the National was first built. Interestingly, "Zodiac" played at the Mann National Theatre in mid March of 2007. Thus, moviegoers watched other moviegoers occupy their seats - on the National's trademark large screen.


  • The cab scene on Washington and Cherry Streets in San Francisco could not be entirely shot in San Francisco due to filming restrictions and the opposition of the neighborhood residents. So, a set of the intersection, including the street, apartments and crime scene was constructed at Downey Studios just outside of Los Angeles, California. Backdrops of San Francisco were digitally inserted to complete the scene. Only a few seconds of actual footage shot in the original crime scene location remains in the scene.


  • The Warner Bros. and Paramount logos used at the start of the film are almost identical to the ones used by the respective studios in 1969, with the most notable change being on the Paramount logo: where it once read "A Gulf+Western company," it now reads "A Viacom company."


  • Robert Graysmith and Paul Avery were not actually friends. Their relationship is fictionalized for the film.


  • 110-day shoot.


  • This film pays homage to Dirty Harry (1971), whose foe, Scorpio, was based on the Zodiac murderer. Another fictional policeman also encountered a foe called Scorpio around this time. In the Robert Graysmith book, they note that around the time of the Zodiac murders, the police investigated a possible connection to the Dick Tracy comic strip, as Dick Tracy faced a Zodiac-themed gang directed by a mastermind called Scorpio.


  • In order to save time, David Fincher decided to digitally add all the blood in the murder scenes.


  • The producers hired a private investigator to track down the real-life Zodiac survivor, Mike Mageau.


  • The real-life Zodiac survivor, Bryan C. Hartnell, makes a cameo with his wife in the police station.


  • When Robert comes face-to-face with Arthur Leigh Allen in the hardware store, the music playing is 'Baker Street' by Gerry Rafferty. As this is Robert's "Sherlock Holmes" moment, this can hardly be coincidental.

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