BBC: Why are some new films so dark and dimly lit?

BBC: Why are some new films so dark and dimly lit?

BBC: Why are some new movies so dark and dimly lit?

Karen Gillan (left) and Don Cheadle are pictured in a photo released by Disney from Avengers: Endgame.

London – When a clip from Disney's upcoming live-action The Little Mermaid was shown at the MTV Music Awards on May 7, fans of the original 1989 animated series took to social media to say they didn't see anything to like. So, to be more precise, they actually wrote that they could not see anything at all, wrote the BBC server.

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One commenter after another complained that the supposedly magical and romantic scene between Ariel (Halle Bailey) and Prince Erik (Jonah Hauer-King) was so dark and gray that you could hardly tell what was going on. Sure, the scene in question takes place at night, but still…

“Where's the light? Where's the color? It looks so dark,” muttered one user on Twitter. “Did all their light bulbs blow during filming?” asked another.

It was the biggest protest against the movie's dim lighting since… actually since the previous release of the clip for Disney's other live-action remake of Peter Pan and Wendy two months earlier.

But this is not just a problem of Disney fairy tales. Whether it's blockbusters like Batman or Avengers: Endgame, or epic TV series like Game of Thrones or The Mandalorian; viewers regularly complain on social media that watching today's mega-budget entertainment is like looking into a cave on a cloudy night.

And their astonishment at this gloomy lighting only underscores the brightness and sharpness of Hollywood blockbusters of yesteryear decade. One example is the finale of the 1997 movie Titanic. It takes place in the middle of the ocean in the middle of the night, but you don't have to squint to see what Jack and Rose are doing.

It should be noted that clips and trailers will always look darker on a bright day on a phone screen than when projected on a big screen in a cinema. But even experts who have compared the palettes of new and old films confirm that this gloomy trend is not just a matter of our phones and memories seen through rose-colored glasses. We truly live in a dark age when it comes to cinema.

So why are so many filmmakers dimming the lights? The simple answer is: because they can.

It's been a decade since digital video overtook celluloid, and in 2016 more than 90 percent of movies were shot digitally. One of the changes this technology has brought is that directors now have video monitors on set to show them exactly what the cameras are capturing. They can immediately see if all the necessary details are on the canvas and can experiment with lower lighting.

With celluloid, there's no equivalent way to check in real time whether a scene is too dark, so “it was safest to shoot with enough light, even if the scenes were supposed to be dark,” producer Edward Vega said in a Vox video on the subject.

However, this is not the case with digital imaging. The new technology has liberated directors in the sense that they can make their films more inky than ever before.

But why would filmmakers want their work to look like it was shot during a solar eclipse? One reason is that in the last decade Hollywood has been dominated by science fiction and fantasy, genres that are often associated with bold, bold colors and excess.

Directors are responding to this stereotype by creating their own they shoot blockbusters in a darker, grittier tone with a Fifty Shades of Gray aesthetic. Similarly, directors try to differentiate their feature films from the classic Disney cartoons by giving them more naturalistic lighting. They want us to know that while they're telling stories about flying kids and singing crabs, they're telling serious, grown-up stories about flying kids and singing crabs.

This more spare, grim approach was interesting for a while. But judging by the online response to The Little Mermaid and Peter Pan and Wendy, it's time for filmmakers to shout, “Let there be light!”

After all, we have enough gloom to deal with in the real world . Maybe it's time for Hollywood to get drunk on the color and brightness of science fiction and fantasy again and give us some retina-searing Superman and Star Wars movies. After all, as they say, it's always darkest before the dawn.