American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 83

Opposite and this
page, top: Troy
Maxson (portrayed
by director Denzel
Washington); his
wife, Rose (Viola
Davis); and their
son Cory (Jovan
Adepo) grapple
with matters of
family and society
in the 1950s-set
feature Fences.
Below: Washington
reviews a setup
alongside
cinematographer
Charlotte Bruus
Christensen.

Unit photography by David Lee, courtesy of Paramount Pictures.

N

early 30 years after its Broadway
premiere, the Pulitzer Prizewinning Fences is the first August
Wilson play to make it to the big
screen. The theatrical piece was the
most commercially successful of the late
dramatist's 10-play cycle chronicling
each decade of 20th-century AfricanAmerican life, but it still required the
combined star power of Denzel
Washington and Viola Davis - both
Tony winners for a 2010 Broadway
revival of the play - to get a film
version off the ground. According to
cinematographer Charlotte Bruus
Christensen, Fences is a passion project
for Washington, who also signed on to
direct the movie.
Christensen was in New York
shooting The Girl on the Train when she
received the Fences script, along with an
offer to meet with the actor-director. "It
was a four-hour, very intense meeting
with Denzel, going through the whole
emotional journey of Fences," she recalls.
"He's such a passionate filmmaker that
he cannot talk just a little bit about a
project, especially this one. That was
exciting to me; his passion is what really
engaged me in the project."
Most of the long discussion had
nothing to do with visual matters. "It
was very much about African-

American culture and where Denzel
comes from," Christensen says. "I think
he needed to feel whether I had an
understanding of it. I come from a
Scandinavian background, but I
remember being honest - why would it
be so different when it comes to family,
relationships, parents and children,
expectations, and regrets in life?" All of
this is very much at the heart of Fences,
which is set in 1950s Pittsburgh and
focuses on Troy Maxson (Washington),
a middle-aged sanitation worker whose
bitterness over his unfulfilled dreams of
becoming a major-league baseball player
www.theasc.com

take a toll on his family life with wife
Rose (Davis) and son Cory ( Jovan
Adepo). "I think it's a very universal
story," says the cinematographer, a
native of Denmark who likens Wilson's
themes to those found in Ingmar
Bergman's cinema and theater.
While their talk was largely not
about cinematography, at one point
Christensen interjected an opinion
about how the movie would be shot. "I
think it was as simple as me saying to
Denzel, 'This is for sure a 35mm
project?'" she recalls. "And he said, 'For
sure it is.'"
➣
January 2017

83


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Cinematographer - January 2017

Contents
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - Cover1
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - Cover2
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 1
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 2
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - Contents
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 4
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 5
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 6
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 7
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 8
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 9
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 10
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American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 12
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 13
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 14
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 15
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 16
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 17
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 18
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 19
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 20
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 21
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 22
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 23
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 24
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 25
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 26
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 27
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 28
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 29
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 30
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American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 34
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 35
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 36
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 37
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American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 40
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 41
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 42
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 43
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American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 45
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 46
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 47
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 48
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 48a
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 48b
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 49
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 50
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 51
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American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 108
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - Cover3
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - Cover4
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