- journalist, Nicholas Barbier
- journalist, BBCCulture
The new live action Disney movie footage has caused a lot of annoyance with its black screen. Many blockbusters these days have reduced screen brightness. Nicholas Barber wonders why.
When Disney’s live-action remake of The Little Mermaid was released at the MTV Awards on May 7 (local time), fans who loved the original 1989 animated film complained on social media that it had no not look attractive. More precisely, nothing was “invisible”. Countless people have complained about the magical, romantic scene between Ariel (Halle Bailey) and Prince Eric (Jonah Hauer-King) that it’s so dark and dark you barely know what’s going on. In fact, the background of this scene is a dark night. But anyway…one Twitter user grumbled, “Where’s the lights? Where’s the tint? It looks so dull.” Another user commented, “Did all the lights go out at once on set?” I posted an article. When Disney released the live video for “Peter Pan & Wendy” two months ago, most of the complaints were about the black screen.
But it’s not just a Disney movie problem. The same goes for blockbusters like “Batman” and “Avengers: Endgame,” and epic dramas like “Game of Thrones” and “The Mandalorian.” Viewers often say on social media that the latest hit series feels like looking into a cave on a cloudy evening. If you combine your embarrassment at that dim lighting with your wonder at the bright, vivid screens that have appeared in Hollywood hits of the past few decades, you’ll find yourself right in the middle. Think of the 1997 Titanic finale, which takes place in the middle of the ocean at night, but you didn’t have to squint to get a good look at Jack and Rose.
First of all, it must be taken into account that if you watch promotional videos and trailers on your mobile phone in broad daylight, they will inevitably appear darker than when projected on a large screen in a hall. movie theater. However, experts who have compared the colors of newer and older movies have confirmed that this dim screen isn’t just an illusion that comes from cell phone features or the pink embellishment of memories. When it comes to screen brightness in movies, it is indeed “the dark ages”.
So why do so many filmmakers use dim lighting? Simply put, it’s organized as “because I can do it”.
It has been 10 years since digital photography overtook film photography on celluloid. In 2016, more than 90% of films were shot digitally. Digital photography has brought about a significant change. Now, by installing a video monitor on set, the director can see exactly what the camera is filming. You can immediately verify that the screen has all the detail you need, so you can experiment even when the lighting dims. However, when shooting on celluloid film, there is no way to check in real time if a scene is too dark. Therefore, Edward Vega, producer of the Internet media ‘Vox’, explained in a video on the same subject: “The safest way is to shoot with sufficient lighting even if the scene must be dark”. But digital photography has no such limits. New technologies have given directors more freedom to make movies than ever before.
But why did the orientation have to be a dark image, as if filmed during a solar eclipse? One of the reasons can be found in the fact that science fiction (SF) and fantasy genres have dominated Hollywood for the past decade. This genre was characterized by strong, bold colors and exaggerated visual beauty. Now directors are rebelling against that fixation and coloring their own blockbusters with a darker, duller tone and “50 shades” of gray. In a similar vein, directors use natural lighting in Disney live-action films to differentiate them from classic studio-produced cartoons. It is intended to make the audience understand that a sincere and mature discourse can be evoked even when it comes to a story of children flying and shellfish singing.
This dark, brooding portrayal has been appealing for a while, but given the online reactions to ‘The Little Mermaid’ and ‘Peter Pan & Wendy’, it looks like the directors will soon be shouting, “Let there be light!” After all, we are facing quite a dark world in the real world. The time may be near when Hollywood reclaims the colorful hues and luminosity of science fiction and fantasy, with movies like “Superman” and “Star Wars” melting our retinas. As the ancient ancestors say like a proverb, the darkest law is before dawn.
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