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Trillian's avatar

Why all this darkness in film?

Asked by Trillian (21099points) March 9th, 2012

Maybe it’s just my imagination. Maybe it has been like this all along and I’m just now getting in synch with reality and noticing. It seems like in the past year or two I’ve seen increasing numbers of movies which have an AWFUL lot of screen time in darkness so complete that I can’t make out ANYTHING, much less details.
Am I losing my eyesight? Am I just accidentally picking the right ones in my netflix selection, filmed and directed by dorks who feel that darkness gets them off the hook for plot building and effects?
It’s driving me crazy. I can’t tell what the heck is going on.
I need to know the rationale behind the whole “Let’s shoot all these scenes in the dark” thing. I just want to scream at the actors; “For God’s sake, turn on a light!”
Or give me a list of movies that are adequately lit all the way through. Or if it’s me, tell me. Please do it nicely. I’ve had kind of a rough week.

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12 Answers

JLeslie's avatar

Oh, I have all sorts of complaints like this. Too dark, music too loud over the dialogue, camera moving around too much. All these things drive me crazy.

CaptainHarley's avatar


I hate to be the one to break this to you, but you’re going blind!

fundevogel's avatar

Here’s a guess. It used to be that what you could do to a film in post was limited and pretty involved. You lit your scene, you got your exposure and not a lot went on between filming and screening to change the overall look of the film. But now with digital compositing every movie is color corrected and plenty more are put through digital filters to alter the look of the picture.

I’m guessing the the ability to radically change the look of the film without much expense or destruction to original imagery enables a lot of filmakers to try more difficult styles simply because if it doesn’t work they can still back out of it. This was not a luxury available to many film makers prior to digital compositing.

Though, if you think of it there were plenty of poorly lit nigh indistinguishable low budget films back in the day…

gasman's avatar

Roger Ebert discusses this issue in his journal here: The Dying of the Light. The main suspects are penny-pinching theater managers, digital projectors, and projectionists too lazy to remove 3-D lenses from 2-D pictures, which cuts brightness in half.

Berserker's avatar

@fundevogel Yeah, I’m suddenly reminded of this movie I saw as a kid, It’s Alive, (1974) about a killer baby. I shit you not Except this movie was just talking the whole time, or everything being ridiculously dark whenever anything happened. I guess they couldn’t quite cover the special effects…

fundevogel's avatar

@Symbeline Ha. That was my college roommate’s favorite movie for a while. Sadly I never got around to seeing it myself. For some reason she insisted on sitting me down and popping my Annie Hall cherry but she totally dropped the ball on killer babies.

Bellatrix's avatar

Could it be your television? I have a TV in my bedroom and if there are darker scenes in the program, I can pretty well not see anything. My other TV is fine though.

augustlan's avatar

I hate movies that are so dark you can’t tell what’s going on. I remember the first time I noticed it was when I watched The Abyss. It’s become a lot more common since then, I think. Annoys the crap out of me!

ucme's avatar

I’m in the dark on this one & so i’m afraid I can’t shed any light as to the reasons why, sorry.

Trillian's avatar

Thank you all, I feel mostly vindicated. @Bellatrix, we’ll see about the tv itself. I don’t think that’s it because the dark scenes are blatantly dark, but I’m getting a new tv in a couple weeks so I’ll have a chance to put that to the test. @CaptainHarley, thhhpppppbbbbbtttttt! You may be right, y’ol coot!~ I’m glad to see that whatever the reason, I’m not alone in my frustration. I appreciate everyone’s input. I may give one or more of you a call another time if I start to go over the edge with a stupid dark movie.

mazingerz88's avatar

It’s more dramatic is what they’re thinking I guess.

Shippy's avatar

Yes or they film just a part of a person like their leg and hand? Or maybe I need to readjust my wide angle TV thingy.

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