“I don’t think of it as a superhero movie,” reveals “Wonder Woman” cinematographer Matthew Jensen during our recent webcam chat (watch the exclusive video above). Instead, he and director Patty Jenkins approached the material as “a classic adventure film about a character’s journey towards heroism.” This Warner Bros. release charts the origins of the iconic superhero, as the ageless Princess Diana (Gal Gadot) discovers her full powers while fighting evil forces in London during World War I. With an over $600 million haul at the international box office, “Wonder Woman” is the most financially successful live-action movie ever helmed by a woman and the most lucrative of the DCU releases to date.
In addition to looking at several films such as “Paths of Glory” (1957), “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981), and “Batman Begins” (2005) for reference, Jensen studied paintings from the turn of the 19th to the 20th century to see “how World War I was represented, how London was represented. Those became touchstone for our lighting style and our color pallet.”
It was a little tougher creating the world of Wonder Woman’s homeland Themyscira. He says, “The ideas that were behind their civilization was that they had developed in parallel to the modern man’s world, but they just took a different route. Instead of becoming a mechanized culture, they were a culture that used their natural surroundings, so their dwellings are built into mountainsides and the rocks, and they harnessed the power of the water… to provide light.” While “it was tricky coming up with some of the lighting ideas at night,” ultimately Jensen “really wanted to emphasize that this is paradise, and it is an island that is warmed by the sun.”
Jensen has shot a variety of fantasy and sci-fi titles for film and television, including “Game of Thrones,” “True Blood,” “Chronicle” (2012), and “Fantastic Four” (2015). He won the Online Film and Television Association award for “Game of Thrones” in 2013 and contended in 2012.
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