This last week saw the release of The Long Night, the epic and record-breaking episode of Game of Thrones. Despite a large amount of praise for the episode, many fans have complained that the episode was “too dark”, which caused them to miss all the action. Now, Game of Thrones cinematographer Fabian Wagner has offered feedback regarding the criticism and defended the episode’s gritty look.
“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… If you watch a night scene in a brightly lit room then that won’t help you see the image properly.”
He continued to explain that the showrunners specifically requested that the episode be darker than the previous episodes. “Another look would have been wrong. Everything we wanted people to see is there.”
Personally, I had no issues with the colour grading or the high amounts of contrast used here. The truth of the matter is that if you have a decent television set with optimal settings, you would have had a clear view of all the action in The Long Night.
did HBO call this the largest battle in cinematic history knowing we wouldn’t be able to see if that claim was true
— tc (@chillmage) April 29, 2019
The showrunners weren’t hiding bad CGI nor were they trying to hide any mistakes, as has been suggested by certain fans. Rather, it was purposely made dark for effect. After all, Game of Thrones has been promising a long, darker night since the first season. “Winter is coming!”
There were similar complaints about Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman in 2016. Many fans felt the action sequences, especially those that involve Batman, weren’t well lit and “too dark”. For anyone who has read a Batman comic, they would know that he isn’t called The Dark Knight for no reason. Batman has always been stealthy and used the shadows to his advantage. It would only make sense that he did that in the film too.
— Makoy de Guzman ϟ ⎊ (@thegustman_) April 29, 2019
The same goes for Game of Thrones. The White Walkers and the Night King operate in the darkness. They always have.
Wagner also told TMZ that “[Game of Thrones] has always been very dark and a very cinematic show. We tried to give the viewers and fans a cool episode to watch. I know it wasn’t too dark because I shot it!”
My laptop screen ain’t cut out for this “artistic choice” in lighting, @HBO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
— Bryan Doherty (@bryansdoherty) April 29, 2019
My suggestion would be, as Fabian Wagner points out, to readjust the settings of your TV again.