Director Damien Chazelle writes a new love letter to Hollywood in the visually ambitious epic “Babylon,” a story that harks back to a time when silent films were being overtaken by the first “talkies” of the silver screen. Frequent collaborator and cinematographer Linus Sandgren (“La La Land”) developed a visual grammar rich in realism, capturing environments on celluloid with anamorphic lenses. Lighting sources were made to mimic the look of the time period while offering the distinct painterly palette found in Chazelle’s projects. “We took to the extremes a bit more on this film because it needed to have a bit of attitude in the language,” Sandgren says.
Exteriors provided the perfect playground for the Oscar-winning cinematographer to shoot the settings hot and overexposed, which created a contrast with the darker, moody interiors. For a very meta scene that has high-profile actor Jack Conrad (Brad Pitt) scurrying up a hill to kiss a princess (Natasha Kalimada) at sunset, the picturesque moment was shot over five days only in the golden hour. “It’s how filmmaking feels for us,” Sandgren notes.
“Every morning, we thought we were never going to make the day. Then at the end, it’s a great joyous moment that we got it.”
• x001 Babylon – Movie Stills.