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Wally Pfister

Wally Pfister: “I had to shift to storytelling”

December 4, 2019
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Mr. Pfister, in your opinion as an Oscar winning cinematographer, what makes for an iconic film scene?

It's marriage of all the elements: something that works photographically, that tells a story perfectly, that has lighting elements that contribute to the story, the color palette, the metaphorical imagery, the musical cues… If you look back at what we call the iconic images in the Batman movies that I made — one which is a silhouette of Batman standing on top of a building in Gotham city with our helicopter circling around in him at dawn, for instance, or another where he is standing on top of a pile of rubble in a burning building — what's interesting is there’s really very little performance in those scenes, but they are iconic images, and all the information, and mood is within the frame.

So it’s really a collaborative effort between every player in the film’s making, more than just a visual impact.

Right, it’s a great collaboration of all these forces: Chris Nolan, in his storytelling best, finding these moments of reflection. It's the performer, in this case Christian Bale, having that moment of reflection, and it's myself and unseen collaborators creating the mood with the images and the music. So those iconic shots that we did, I can't speak for anybody else, but they all fit together in a perfect way, and they come in a perfect place in the narrative, where you need that moment of reflection, amidst all the action.

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Last week’s Interview
Keira Knightley

Keira Knightley: “It’s the joy of growing up”

November 27, 2019
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Ms. Knightley, you were only 17 when you starred in Bend It Like Beckham and Pirates of the Caribbean. How do you look back on that version of yourself?

She did all right! (Laughs) I mean yes, it was a tricky time and it was probably amplified by celebrity but I think many people, and especially many women have a tricky time at the end of their teenage years and beginning of their twenties. I think it was amplified, obviously because I was as famous as I was at that point. But I survived up to this point — touch wood! But that girl can’t have been that bad.

Did you ever feel the weight of fame as a teenaged celebrity?

I think the early part of my career, it was certainly quite a harsh experience in every different which way. I don’t think that people would have had a more positive opinion of me had I spoken my mind or had I not spoken my mind, you know? There’s literally nothing I could have said or done to have changed what that was going to be like at that particular time. I think in a funny kind of way, you remain yourself in the middle of things and what you learn as you grow up is you can only be yourself. People are either going to like you or they’re not going to like you.