For Joe Wright’s Cyranobased on the stage musical by screenwriter Erica Schmidt, adapted from the 1897 play by Edmond Rostand Cyrano de BergeracCinematographer Seamus McGarvey says he wanted to show right from the start a kind of “primitive romance and innocence of that and kind of yearning for love”.
He notes, “We chose much warmer tones and soft lighting on the actors’ faces,” explaining that this was driven by the look of the baroque city of Nato in Sicily, where the film was recorded on location. “When we went there initially to scout locations, we suddenly realized this is how the film looks, the Sicilian light that naturally brings in. When you enter a castle, such as Roxanne’s residence, through the shutters, there is a beam of really hot Sicilian light shining through, just bouncing off the white marble, and that created the lead. our. So I light things pretty much from the outside with great overexposure sources. And that creates a lovely softness as it bounces off that marble in the face. The DP said that he shot the film with an ARRI Alexa large format camera with a Leitz lens and used the diffuser feature on the camera.
McGarvey, who was nominated for an Oscar for Wright’s Atonement and Anna Kareninasaid he wanted to reflect “dynamism” [and] the innocence of love” with the camera “chaotic or dynamic” than moving at the beginning of the film before the film “constricts” and the image becomes more “portrait”, and then about visual alignment between the three main characters” – Cyrano (played by Peter Dinklage), Roxanne (Haley Bennett) and Christian (Kelvin Harrison Jr.).
“I really enjoy playing with close-ups. I don’t think I’ve ever done that many close-ups in a movie,” he admitted. “We really want to see their amazing faces. Peter Dinklage, you couldn’t hope for a better portrait than a face like his, and neither did Kelvin and Haley. We knew we were going to cut between, or even overlap within the same frame, these three ends. We knew that close-ups would be important in telling that part of the story. “
Later in the film, war scenes shot on Mount Etna replace the warmth with what McGarvey describes as “lithographic sharpness. We wanted to show the realism and harshness of war. ” The look back changed when Cyrano, who had just returned from battle, met Roxanne in a monastery. It was a bit overexposed. When we turned around, Joe said: ‘The photo was so beautifully exposed. It felt so amazing and divine and heavenly.’” McGarvey chuckles adding, “So about we basically overexposed it. We lit it with very hard sources through the window, through the open door, and overexposed it for about a minute and a half.”
This story first appeared in The Hollywood Reporter in January. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.