‘Passing’ DP Eduard Grau on the film’s black and white choices

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As cinematographer Eduard Grau searched for his next project after “The Way Back”, he wanted to work with a director whose vision was to elevate the material into something intellectually deep.

Actress Rebecca Hall, who made her directorial debut with “Passing,” turned out to be the perfect match. “She was already going in that direction and was focusing on making a film with visually striking poetry,” Grau said.

Hall decided that the adaptation of Nella Larsen’s 1929 novel would be shot in black and white. At the heart of the story are two black women, Irene (Tessa Thompson) and Clare (Ruth Negga), who may “pass” as white women but choose to live on either side of the color line. With colorism as a theme, alongside sexism, race, class, and gender, Hall turned to monochrome, particularly to remove the idea of ​​skin tone and give more visual freedom to storytelling. .

Hall and Grau drew inspiration from a multitude of black-and-white films, but noticed that the images, whether filmed or digital, were too crisp and crisp around the edges. This is something we found interesting. “So we set out to find lenses that would add characteristic qualities to the frame,” says Grau.

They ended up using anamorphic Lomo lenses. “We found that they gave that lovely softness around the edges, which gave the frame an almost impressionistic painterly quality,” explains the DP. This approach, he says, focused attention on the characters in the intimate close-ups that Hall wanted to use to tell the story.

Additionally, Grau has boldly gone against the trend of 4K shooting, opting for a much smoother 1.7K image resolution. “The loss of precision has helped audiences to be imaginative and create an image more than what was in front of them,” he says.


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