“I don’t think we knew it was going to become the thing that it’s become,” admits “Joker” cinematographer Lawrence Sher when asked about all the controversy surrounding the film. “We were certainly aware of the fact that there were going to be a lot of eyes on this movie. At the very least, we knew that when you deal with this level of a notorious villain like Joker,” you can’t “live in the shadows.” Watch our exclusive video interview with Sher above.
Directed by Todd Phillips, this Warner Bros. release re-imagines the famous “Batman” villain as a mentally deranged loner named Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix), who lives in a crime-infested Gotham City that bears a striking resemblance to the New York City of the late 1970s/early 1980s. In his visual work, Sher wanted to create “a really intimate portrayal of a human being and their descent into both madness and chaos … How do we tell a story that connects the audience to this character in an emotional way?”
SEE Oscar predictions: Is ‘Joker’ a top contender for Best Picture and Best Actor? [VIDEO & AUDIO PODCAST]
So each scene was designed to elicit “a psychological effect on the audience.” Because this was “an internalized look into the Joker and his psyche, close-ups were going to be a huge part of it. It’s one of the reasons why we shot large-format.” Sher used long lenses with a shallow depth of field “to really isolate him in his environment,” thereby connecting the audience to Fleck “by drawing him away from the environment that he’s in.”
Sher has collaborated with Phillips on several films, including the “Hangover” trilogy (2009, 2011 and 2013), “Due Date” (2010) and “War Dogs” (2016). He has also shot “Garden State” (2004), “Dan in Real Life” (2007) and “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” (2019).
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