Editor's Note: Some spoilers for The Last of Us to come...
The Last of Ushit HBO by storm. Adapted from the incredibly popular video game by Craig Mazin, who brought us the incredible Chernobyl series, it's been a hit with critics and audiences alike. One of the many things to praise is the look of the show.
It feels like we're really inside the end of the world. Cinematographer Eben Bolter shot episodes three, four, and five of the show, and that's been where you know what really hits the fan. We have an explosion of zombies popping up from the ground and hordes of them running in the streets.
Bolter talked to Variety about how they kept the visuals consistent throughout.
“It’s hell — it’s like a hive opening up,” Bolter said. “We wanted it to feel like these are angry red ants that have been trapped on the ground, and they’re just desperate to break free.”
Things really come to a head in episode five, when at the end of the narrative, we see zombies burst through the ground. They're led by different forms of evolved zombies, including one huge bruiser.
This all takes place twenty years after the initial wrecking of society. The maximum effort had to be put into what a crumbling world would look like, and how you would shoot that.
So, what looks go into making a zombie underground?
“Our rationalizing was that maybe underground is oily and wet, so that’s why you get the shine. The Xenomorph from the Alien movies was a reference as to how light would reflect off of something, but also how you can use darkness to see enough that it’s terrifying.”
Xenomorph from the 'Alien' franchiseCredit: 20th Century FoxAnd when the battle begins, everything shifts to something frantic.
“The handheld — it was about speed and being amongst them. And reacting to chaos. We have Joel [Pedro Pascal] up in the crow’s nest with the sniper rifle. He gives us our wide shots, and it’s very story-oriented, because it gives us an aerial shot, and what he sees from being high up. Grounding it in reality, the scene feels like Saving Private Ryan. You’re on the beach, and you’re not having to do slick crane moves — because that scene doesn’t need it.”
'Saving Private Ryan'Credit: DreamWorks Pictures/Paramount PicturesI love how the lighting here is all by fire. It makes this feel like that broken future. There is no electricity bailing anyone out, except from the headlights of the vehicles in the chases.
All in all, this show really has its own visual tone and rhythm that sets it apart from stories in a similar vein.
Let me know your favorite parts about the show in the comments.