Cinematic Alchemy: Linus Sandgren Unveils the Artistry Behind “Saltburn”

Linus Sandgren Unveils: Renowned cinematographer Linus Sandgren, known for his work on films like “La La Land” and “No Time to Die,” recently shared insights into the creative process behind the visually striking “Saltburn.” Speaking at the Camerimage cinematography festival in Torun, Poland, Sandgren described the collaboration with director Emerald Fennell as an exploration of emotions and instincts to craft a “gothic” look for the film.

The decision to use a tight Academy aspect ratio was born from discussions with Fennell, creating a cinematic frame that suited the gloomy and stodgy estate where the film was shot. The mansion’s architecture, with beveled ceilings, arches, ancient walls, and blood-red floors, contributed to the visual atmosphere that closes in on the characters, especially Felix Catton (Jacob Elordi) and the interloper Oliver Quick (Barry Keoghan).

Despite the film’s exploration of gritty and consuming obsessions, Sandgren highlighted the light moments during the filming process. He emphasized the laughter shared by the small crew working with an indie budget, fostering a sense of fun and camaraderie on set.

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Sandgren explained that the visual aspects of “Saltburn” were not the initial focus; instead, it began with the impact of reading the script and connecting with the director. He stressed the importance of being “interested and intrigued” and the collaborative process of figuring out the film’s essence with the director.

Fennell’s vision encompassed references from baroque paintings to vampire themes and Hitchcock motifs, resulting in a film that combines lushness and chilling elements. The voyeuristic sense of looking into an old house and the use of wide-angle filming to capture grandeur were deliberate choices in creating the film’s atmosphere.

The cinematographer noted the agreement with Fennell on using Kodak film, citing its reaction to red light in key scenes inside the family home as well-suited to the growing sense of horror in “Saltburn.” The film’s exploration of characters’ extremes of emotions, portrayed through close-ups highlighting sweat, hair, and bodily details, contributed to the descent into obsession.

In conclusion, Sandgren emphasized that the creative choices enriched the overall experience of “Saltburn,” acknowledging the thematic depth, including the exploration of vampires as sexual beings in the narrative.

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