Everybody thinks "Game Of Thrones" was too dark this week -- literally

GOT fans and critics are coming down hard on the cinematography in the latest episode because it was too hard to see what the heck was happening

April 29, 2019

John F. (I made it!)

There's a lot of convo this morning about last night's battle for Winterfell episode of Game of Thrones.-- "The Long Night."  Just Google "Game of Thrones dark" and look what pops up:

  • 'Game of Thrones' Fans Complain About Dark Cinematography – Variety
  • Was That Game of Thrones Battle Literally Too Dark? | Vanity Fair
  • A Theory About Why Last Night's Game of Thrones Was Too Dark to Watch
  • The Battle of Winterfell was epic and all, but viewers couldn't always grasp what the heck was going on.
  • Game of Thrones: Fans vent about Battle of Winterfell too dark to see
  • 'Game of Thrones' fans complain show was too dark and full of terror
  • Game of Thrones season 8: Fans complain episode 3 was 'too dark during Battle at Winterfell"
  • Lighten up, Jon Snow: why is Game of Thrones so ridiculously dark?

You get the idea -- the episode was shot super dark. As USA Today says this morning:

Millions of "Game of Thrones" viewers watched "The Long Night," with their eyes wide open and pupils dilated – and not just because they were trying not to miss a second of biggest battle ever staged for the screen. 

Nope, many were straining to see the battle, period, due to the episode's darker-than-usual cinematography and foul-even-for-the-North weather conditions. (Seriously, if Drogon and Rhaegal were commercial airliners instead of dragons, they wouldn't have been cleared for takeoff.)

"Did HBO call this the largest battle in cinematic history knowing we wouldn’t be able to see if that claim was true?" wondered @chillmage.

The answer comes on Insider from a guy who was the cinematographer on a bunch of GOT episodes:

Robert McLachlan, a cinematographer who worked on eight "Game of Thrones" episodes, told INSIDER that the show was dark because it was meant to be kept as "naturalistic" as possible. The idea is "to make these sets and locations feel as if they're absolutely not lit by us, but only by Mother Nature or some candles," he continued, "so that it feels more naturalistic, albeit enhanced in some cases."

A story in Gizmodo says:

The makers of Game of Thrones almost certainly blew it here. They did not take into account two big factors. First, that people would watch streams which could downgrade thanks to the demands on the servers of HBO and other services, and second, that people would watch the episode on uncalibrated displays in rooms that weren’t lit like a movie house.

Everything I've read about the situation suggests that it does help to have a high-quality TV, and to watch the show in the darkest possible room -- in other words, you want to go for that movie theater ambiance.

Just in case you're not sure if your flatscreen is adjusted for maximum viewing pleasure, here are 8 Tricks to Improve the Picture on Your New TV.

You're welcome, and good luck next week!