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Game of Thrones cinematographer shuts down complaints that the episode was ‘too dark’

Could viewers be the ones at fault?

game of thrones too dark criticism response
Diane Shipley
Diane ShipleySenior Online Writer
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The Long Night, the much-hyped and action-packed third episode of Game of Thrones’ eighth season, debuted at 2 AM in the U.K for the most dedicated and sleep-deprived fans (and was repeated at 9 PM for the rest of us). But was it too dark?

That’s a criticism that’s long been levelled at the show for some of its infamously gory scenes, including the “Red Wedding” in season three episode The Rains of Castamere, which saw the brutal massacre of Robb Stark (Richard Madden) and his men. But this time fans and critics mean it literally.  

gameofthroneswinterfelltoodark© Photo: Sky

Arya Stark had a decisive moment in episode three of season eight

The consensus on social media is that it was too difficult to see the show’s centrepiece fight, the battle of Winterfell. This included the pivotal moment when (spoilers ahead) Sansa’s knife-wielding sister Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) landed the fatal blow to The Night King, signalling victory over his army of the dead.


The show took almost two months to film before special effects were added

It’s one of the longest fights seen ever shown on TV – and certainly one of the biggest battles between life and death. But fans on Twitter argued they would have liked it more if they’d been able to get a better look, with some saying simply “too dark” and others calling for HBO, who makes the show, to “up the brightness”. 

READ MORE: All the signs Arya was going to kill THAT character in Game of Thrones

Cinematographer Fabian Wagner disagrees with the criticism, and says he’s not to blame. He suggested that HBO compressed the file in a way that might make it appear lower quality and harder to see. But he proclaimed that there was no problem with the visibility of the fight scenes he filmed, telling TMZ, “I know it was not too dark because I shot it.” 

WATCH: Game of Thrones season 8 episode 4 trailer is here

He said viewers did not help the situation by choosing to watch the episode via HBO’s online system or other streaming services and that the best environment to watch the episode is on a large screen in a dark, quiet room, for a more cinematic experience. It was certainly filmed like a movie, taking 55 nights to complete. That dedication and level of attention to detail helps to explain why fans waited nearly two years to see this final season – and why they’ll keep watching, regardless of the light levels. 

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