Game of Thrones cinematographer defends Battle of Winterfell from claims it was literally “too dark”

"Everything we wanted people to see is there," says DP Fabian Wagner

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Game of Thrones delivered one of the biggest and most expensive battle scenes ever committed to film on Monday, but there was one problem: tons of viewers were unable to make out exactly what was going on.


Many took to Twitter to voice their complaints that the lighting was too dim.

The pick of the bunch was from Desus Nice, who’s tweet “how do you switch this show from night mode” garnered 18,000 likes.

Now, in an interview alongside director Miguel Sapochnik, cinematographer Fabian Wagner has defended the show’s lighting choices, and suggested that the fault lies with viewers’ home devices. “Everything we wanted people to see is there,” he said.

“A lot of the problem is that a lot of people don’t know how to tune their TVs properly,” Wagner told Wired. “A lot of people also unfortunately watch it on small iPads, which in no way can do justice to a show like that anyway.”

He also suggested that the episode might have looked better had it been viewed in the dark…

“Personally I don’t have to always see what’s going on because it’s more about the emotional impact… 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.”

He explained that showrunners DB Weiss and David Benioff had instructed him to shoot in the dark. “The showrunners decided that this had to be a dark episode,” he said. “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.”


Game of Thrones continues Mondays at 2am and 9pm on Sky Atlantic