Wonder Woman is already unique among movies. The first female-led film since Marvel kicked off the superhero blockbuster age with Iron Man, it’s already breaking records AND winning the DCEU consistently positive reviews.
Not content with those landmarks, director of photography Matt Jensen and director Patty Jenkins settled on a rather surprising inspiration for the look of the Gal Gadot-starring DC Comics movie.
“A big influence on both of us was the painter John Singer Sargent, who did a lot of portrait work at the turn of the century,” Jensen told Digital Spy.
Sargent was an American artist who worked out of London in the late 19th and early 20th century, known for his portraits of generals, aristocrats and socialites. But he’s also remembered for his painting Gassed, a depiction of the survivors of a mustard gas attack during World War I (in which Wonder Woman is set).
“His lighting style influenced the way that I lit the movie. I think Patty really responded to the beautiful soft light that he used in his paintings on his subjects,” he said.
“I think a key thing for us was we wanted rich blacks, beautiful portraiture on the faces, and when we did see colour – because he tended to not use a lot of colour – it was vibrant. So that was the guiding principle for me.”
It’s not every day that filmmakers credit a fine artist who died almost a century ago.
Jensen said that “Patty didn’t want the movie to seem old-timey”, and that they deliberately avoided the standard techniques used for shooting period films, like colours that are “a little de-saturated or bleeding together” and “warm sepia” tones.
“It was very important to [Jenkins] that we have a modern use of colour throughout the whole movie, and that we use modern techniques in terms of the lensing to tell the story,” he added. “And so, in many ways the period really came from the production design, the costumes and the vehicles and details.”
On top of all those concerns, they wanted to make sure that the film shared similarities with the look of Zack Snyder’s previous DCEU films, Man of Steel and Batman v Superman.
“Zack’s movies are very visual,” said Jensen. “We wanted to do our own thing but still keep it relatable to the other two movies.”
Chris Pine, Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, Danny Huston, Elena Anaya, Lucy Davis, Saïd Taghmaoui, Ewen Bremner and David Thewlis also feature in the origin movie.
Wonder Woman is out now.
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