During our recent webcam chat (watch above), cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto reveals that when he and Martin Scorsese first started discussing his decades-in-the-making passion project, “Silence,” the director, “shared with me that he wasn’t quite sure how to approach it visually. He felt that the lensing needed a certain restraint,” which contrasted with the “extreme camera language” that he’s known for. This Paramount Picture release stars Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver as two seventeenth century Jesuit priests who face violence and persecution when they travel to Japan to locate their mentor (Liam Neeson) and spread Christianity.
Prieto and Scorsese, who previously collaborated on the visually flamboyant “The Wolf of Wall Street” (2013), wanted to place the audience “right in seventeenth century Japan,” and, “didn’t want to distract that with fancy camerawork.” He explains, “the common misconception with cinematography is that it’s supposed to be pretty or beautiful, like a decoration for a story, and it’s not decoration.” For Prieto, the goal is, “to support the emotional content of the story,” and in the case of “Silence,” it was, “really crucial to just be there, photographing these priests in this situation, and the villagers, and what they’re all going through, and just see it in the simplest way possible.”
Born in Mexico City, Mexico, Prieto received an Academy Award nomination for his work on Ang Lee‘s “Brokeback Mountain” (2005). Both that film and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu‘s “Babel” (2006) brought him bids from the American Society of Cinematographers. With “Silence” earning raves for its gorgeous imagery, could his first Oscar win be next?
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