Warren Beatty’s Lyle Rogers tussles with Isabelle Adjani’s character of the revolutionary Shirra Assel after she breaks into his hotel room. It’s nighttime and this’s a beautifully realized example of low-key photography. Find it at the 00:36:36 mark…
This scene is made up of many cuts and took a long time to shoot. Storaro’s consistency in maintaining the low-key effect throughout is nothing short of amazing. He takes great liberties from time to time in where he places the key and in the amount of fill light he uses, but it’s all of a piece and never takes you out of the story. In keeping with the greater effect, the marking on the slate read, “Nite For Nite.”
This was shot on a set built at Kaufman Astoria Studios in Queens. Walls were pulled when necessary to provide more room for camera positioning and lighting. Note the gobo that’s used in the two-shot below to provide some shadow texture to the image. Watch the film carefully and you’ll notice that it’s not there in every shot…sometimes it even appears in other places entirely.
On several occasions Storaro had the electrical department open the fresnel lenses on the 5K and 10K units; by lighting only with the bare globe and reflector, this allowed for the creation of a much sharper shadow from the same distance.