The Battle of Winterfell arrived on Sunday and a victor was crowned in Game of Thrones. The fight scenes between both humans and monsters were epic, and a ton of fun to watch, but there was one issue that many people took with the episode, and that’s that it was too dark. Literally.
Viewers had trouble making out what was going on for a good portion of the battle and are a bit angry that the lighting did its job a little too well. We get it; it takes place at night, there’s snow everywhere and flashlights haven’t been invented yet. But when staging such an epic fight and one that’s arguably going to be one of the biggest set pieces of the season, it would’ve been nice to have been able to see it a bit more clearly.
That being said, there’s a good reason why it was so dim and dark, as ComicBook.com has done some digging and found an interesting quote from cinematographer Robert McLachlan which may explain everything.
The outlet points our attention first to an interview with INSIDER from 2017 where McLachlan said the following on the topic:
“If you watch season one again, there’s a lot of unmotivated backlight. Even day exteriors, you can tell that they’ve been lit. The cinematographers who’ve been doing it since then, I think we’re all very much on the same page where we’re trying to be as naturalistic as possible… to make these sets and locations feel as if they’re absolutely not lit by us, but only by Mother Nature or some candles, so that it feels more naturalistic, albeit enhanced in some cases.”
Fair enough, and though he didn’t shoot the Battle of Winterfell, director Miguel Sapochnik was obviously following the same idea of giving things a more natural feel when he enlisted cinematographer Fabian Wagner.
But there’s also a thematic reason for why it was so dark. As ComicBook.com explains, last Sunday’s outing of the show was all about “a group of doomed people trying (in vain?) to hold off death incarnate as it arrives at their door.” Continuing on, the outlet writes:
The episode actually sets up the darkness metaphor from the very first salvo of the battle, as a legion Dothraki riders with their blades all lit up on fire, charge at the ranks of the White Walkers. The sequence is shown in long shot, as the spearhead of light shoots across the battlefield and into the dark, where it is snuffed out entirely. That wave of darkness then literally and figuratively rolls over Winterfell, with many of the “fight” scenes with undead presented as a dizzying tornado of dead bodies rolling over everything in their path like a swarm of ants. Is it hard to make out clearly what’s going on? Definitely. But that’s largely the point: for the characters in the battle, the experience is largely just as terrifying, confusing, and uncertain.
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Finally, we arrive at an interview that Wagner did with Vanity Fair, where he explained the following about the Battle of Winterfell:
“I wanted to evolve the … [to make the] storytelling of the lighting evolve with the storytelling of the characters.”
With all that in mind, it perhaps makes a bit more sense why the latest outing of Game of Thrones was so dark and dim, and though none of this changes the fact that it was a bit too hard to make out a lot of the action, it at least gives us some interesting insight into the decision.
But tell us, does any of this change how you feel about the Battle of Winterfell? Or do you still wish it’d been brighter? As always, you can sound off down below.