Wally Pfister is an uncompromising cinematographer. He adamantly prefers to shoot on film, and is dogged in his need to use the best possible technology to capture his images. It’s no surprise, then, that he has worked as the director of photography on seven of Christopher Nolan’s films (from Memento and The Dark Knight to Insomnia and Inception). Nolan, after all, is another relentless advocate of shooting movies on film instead of digital media. Together, the two have created a clean and distinct visual style, but there’s more to Pfister than just his association with Christopher Nolan.
In addition to using film to create his breathtaking shots, the cinematographer often prefers to shoot in anamorphic (a widescreen aspect ratio) and IMAX. Creating such images gives the on-screen action space to breathe, and their vastness lends audiences a unique perception of the unfolding scene. We could also tell you about his creative use of lighting, but wouldn’t you rather see it for yourself? In the latest installment of Language of the Image, our series on notable cinematographers, you’ll learn just why Christopher Nolan can’t get enough of Wally.