The Night King came. Everyone found it difficult to see him until he stood in the middle of Drogon’s hellfire. And then, he was conquered. The latest Game of Thrones episode, The Long Night, tried to deliver on the promise of the ‘Great War’. However, one recurring complaint about the episode’s exhibition remained that it was too dark at several points, making it impossible for viewers to understand who was killing who and who survived the battle.
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The cinematographer of the episode, Fabian Wagner, has defended his lighting choices. He said it was intentional to shoot the battle in a particular manner. In conversation with Wired, Wagner was quoted as saying, “Game of Thrones is a cinematic show and therefore you have to watch it like you’re at a cinema: in a darkened room. If you watch a night scene in a brightly-lit room then that won’t help you see the image properly.”
In another interview with Variety, Wagner has spoken about the evolution of the darkness over the show with each consecutive season. “The showrunners decided that this had to be a dark episode, we’d seen so many battle scenes over the years – to make it truly impactful and to care for the characters, you have to find a unique way of portraying the story. We wanted the storytelling of the lighting to evolve with the storytelling of the characters.”
Many viewers claimed that the deliberate choice to show the sheer chaos of war was brave, but it undercut on the promise of seeing the living battle the dead. Wagner was responsible for the Battle of the Bastards, which was acclaimed for its visceral portrayal of war. Reports suggest that he will be again returning for the season’s penultimate episode, where (presumably) Jon & Dany take the fight to Cersei in King’s Landing. With Melisandre having exited the show, let’s hope that we don’t need the Lord of Light after this.