How They Did It: Bringing Hardy to Madding Crowd

Danish DP Charlotte Bruus Christensen discusses how she lit Carey Mulligan singing “Let No Man Steal Your Thyme.”

When it came to capturing the warm, soft, English countryside of Dorset  – Thomas Hardy country — for Thomas Vinterberg’s latest version of Far from the Madding Crowd, cinematographer Charlotte Bruus Christensen insisted on 35mm film shot with the Panaflex Millenium. There was simply no other way to get the purity of Hardy.

“It was a dream and a wish for Thomas and me, knowing that it would be a battle, but we wrote a letter to the producers explaining why 35mm would be important for this film,” Christensen explained. “It was obviously the texture and with Thomas Hardy it’s all about texture. And maybe an audience can’t see the different but they can feel the difference. We didn’t do a lot grading for the film because we didn’t want to force a digital look by adding grain and then layers and layers and layers of things. We wanted it pure because that’s what the story is.”

And that goes for interiors as well, particularly the candlelit beauty of Mulligan singing “Let No Man Steal Your Thyme.” It’s a scene of both visual and emotional elegance, as the beguiling Bathsheba Everdene (Mulligan) enjoys a celebratory dinner on her farm while two suitors look on affectionately in a romantic game of chess: Mr. Boldwood (Michael Sheen), her forlorn neighbor, and loyal sheep farmer Gabriel Oak (Matthias Schoenaerts).

But what sets this scene apart from the rest of the film is that it was more improvisational — they wanted to be free to explore the mood — so Christensen walked around the whole time with a camera and lit for 360 degrees. She also built a camera softbox with springboards to control camera angles and placed one case for back light to turn up or down.

Read the rest at TOH/Indiewire.

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Below the Line, Cinematography, Clips, Crafts, How They Did It, Movies, Tech

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