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‘Game of Thrones’ Cinematographer Defends Lighting Choices for Battle of Winterfell Episode

Game of Thrones” cinematographer Fabian Wagner isn’t apologizing any time soon for Sunday night’s poorly-lit episode.

Fans were particularly excited for the show’s tentpole episode over the weekend, but many were left disappointed when multiple scenes were too dark for home-viewers to make out the much anticipated Battle of Winterfell. After receiving significant criticism for its poor lighting, Wagner defended the artistic choices he made for the gruesome battle scenes.

In an interview with Wired alongside episode director Miguel Sapochnik, Wagner placed the blame away from the production team onto viewers’ home devices, which he says aren’t fit for the show’s cinematic filming.

“A lot of the problem is that a lot of people don’t know how to tune their TVs properly,” he said. “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 continued, “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.”

Wagner also noted the shift in tone throughout the series, with each season becoming darker alongside grim themes. “The showrunners decided that this had to be a dark episode,” Wagner 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.”

Wagner did explain that much of the darkness could be due to the episode’s night-time shoots compared to lighter scenes that were shot on-set. Even so, he stands by his choices. “Everything we wanted people to see is there,” he said.

“Game of Thrones” isn’t the only show that’s faced criticism for its lighting choices. Other series surrounding darker themes, such as “The Walking Dead,” “Teen Wolf,” and “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D” have all gotten backlash for scenes that are hard to make out.

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