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Cinematographer Łukasz Żal’s aboriginal feature, Ida, won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. Collaborating with administrator and co-writer Paweł Pawlikowski, Żal devised a characteristic beheld access that acclimated black-and-white camerawork in the 1.37 Academy aspect ratio.
Żal formed with Pawlikowski afresh on Cold War, addition blur application black-and-white and the Academy aspect ratio. He batten with Filmmaker about the blur at the contempo Camerimage anniversary in Bydgoszcz, breadth he was awarded the Silver Frog for cinematography.
Filmmaker: Pawlikowski took an “Image” acclaim for Cold War. What does that mean?
Zal: You should ask Paweł.
Filmmaker: He has said that he is amenable for every aspect of the film, including cinematography and assembly design, and ultimately the angel itself.
Zal: He is not aggravating to alteration the calligraphy to the images, but alleviative the angel as allotment of the story.
Filmmaker: So how do you ascertain your job on Cold War?
Zal: It’s a actual accommodating accord in agreement of image. It’s not like I did the cinematography aloof by myself, it’s article we did together. We spent a lot of time attractive for beheld solutions on how to accomplish this story. A lot of time talking about the script, breadth scouting, demography pictures, alive calm about how to acquaint these scenes.
We spent bisected a year on that. We went through the calligraphy abounding times. We additionally met a lot with the abundant assembly designers, Marcel Slawiński and Katarzyna Sobańska, authoritative all those decisions in agreement of locations, talking about how we are activity shoot, what affectionate of camera movement we will use, talking about colors and textures, woods. I generally went with Paweł to the ball rehearsals, breadth Joanna Kulig [who plays Zula, a accompanist and dancer] was alive with Mazowsze. Took a lot of pictures, recording the rehearsals, and afterwards we were allegory this.
Everything comes from the story. The angel is not like a abstracted affair aloof to allegorize the script. And as we are cutting every arena in aloof one or two shots, so we’re aggravating to acquisition the able antithesis amid bodies and places.
And afterwards on the set, we’re like sculpting, calibrating. It’s not like he’s accomplishing administering and alive aloof with the actors. Maybe accommodating agency we aloof are authoritative all those decisions together. We didn’t allocution a lot about lighting, mostly I was accomplishing that myself. Regarding composition, we’re sitting calm by the monitor, calm chief to go down, up, left, right, agreement props.
Filmmaker: Why did you adjudge to use the Academy aspect ratio?
Zal: Aback we acclimated it in Ida, it was a abundant adumbration for me. This architecture allows you to actualize beneath accessible compositions. In fact, agreement becomes added significant. You can actualize added affecting and allegorical images. Frames which aback adventure and mood. It’s additionally abundant for two shots. In a advanced architecture you actual generally aloof abode bodies in the “strong” credibility of image. So generally it’s very, actual obvious. But this aspect arrangement gives you a antithesis amid the actors and the environment. Especially aback you’re accomplishing the arena in aloof one shot, aback you’re not cutting archetypal coverage. That’s why we’re agreement the camera absolutely high. We capital to compose added in abyss than in width. It’s like a cube somehow, like a box, with abounding layers inside. We abode the camera alfresco this “box,” attractive in, application the depth.
In archetypal coverage—wide shot, medium, close-up—when you’re application this style, it’s actual generally flat. Article like Citizen Kane, that is affectionate of the masterpiece archetype of compositions in depth. We were application an f-stop of 5.6 and a half, about 8, and aggravating to compose aggregate in depth, accepting as abounding layers as possible. Treat the angel like a painting or tableaux and try to body a affectionate of micro-world that somehow condenses reality. For archetype aback Wiktor [a artisan played by Tomasz Kot] and Zula are in Paris. We never showed a advanced shot, or advice shots. Aback we’re in Berlin, every attempt had to be about Wiktor. But we congenital an absolute apple about him.
And this architecture with its limitations, this aspect arrangement gives you the befalling to allege about what is aloof above the frame. The anatomy becomes an extract of reality, a representation of a bigger whole.
Filmmaker: Aback you allocution about abyss and layers, can you explain how you abstracted a appearance from the background?
Zal: There are a few agency to allocution about it. Aback we are application a absolutely abysmal abyss of field, you charge to abstracted bodies from the accomplishments through lighting, apparel and assembly design.
I accomplished that in Cold War, because of the abounding concerts in the story, I would accept to use adapted lighting than in Ida, breadth I acclimated a lot of ancillary lights and aback lights. Also, I capital a articulation to the 1960s and the way the actresses were lit then.
During the basic I watched old films. A lot of archival footage, films like Casablanca, Jean-Luc Godard and added French New Wave directors, but additionally Andrei Tarkovsky and Miloš Forman. I looked at a lot of pictures of, for example, Marilyn Monroe, and the Polish brilliant Kalina Jędrusik. I additionally advised Helmut Newton’s photography, because he was application a lot of adorableness light, and was able to accomplish an amazing adverse in his photographs. In the photography itself, but additionally in assembly design, in