Game of Thrones cinematographer defends 'too dark' episode

"People don't know how to tune their TVs properly."

Jennifer Bisset Former Senior Editor / Culture
Jennifer Bisset was a senior editor for CNET. She covered film and TV news and reviews. The movie that inspired her to want a career in film is Lost in Translation. She won Best New Journalist in 2019 at the Australian IT Journalism Awards.
Expertise Film and TV Credentials
  • Best New Journalist 2019 Australian IT Journalism Awards
Jennifer Bisset
2 min read

Game of Thrones can get dark in more ways than one.


The night is dark and full of terrors… they're just really hard to see.

That's one of the takeaways of the latest episode of Game of Thrones, The Long Night, shown on HBO on Sunday. It featured a battle that was the culmination of seven seasons of buildup in the war between men and the undead.

It's just many viewers couldn't see what in Winterfell was happening. The battle itself took 55 nights to filmHere's how Twitter reacted and here are some tips to adjust your TV in case you had the same issue.

In response to that angry horde, the episode's cinematographer, Fabien Wagner, who also shot acclaimed episode Battle of the Bastards, spoke out about the episode to Wired. He addressed the not-ideal methods people used to watch it.

"A lot of the problem is that a lot of people don't know how to tune their TVs properly," Wagner said. "A lot of people also unfortunately watch it on small iPads, which in no way can do justice to a show like that anyway.

"Game of Thrones is a cinematic show and therefore you have to watch it like you're at a cinema: in a darkened room. If you watch a night scene in a brightly-lit room then that won't help you see the image properly."

Wagner explained that the darkness was a creative choice. "The show runners decided that this had to be a dark episode," Wagner said. "We'd seen so many battle scenes over the years -- to make it truly impactful and to care for the characters, you have to find a unique way of portraying the story.

"Another look would have been wrong. Everything we wanted people to see is there."

With the many deaths and character arcs finally paying off in this episode, Wagner pointed out the significance of the non-visual.

"Personally, I don't have to always see what's going on because it's more about the emotional impact."

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