Wakanda Forever cinematographer on the ending – The Hollywood Reporter

It’s been a remarkable year for Black Panther: Wakanda forever cinematographer Autumn Durald Arkapaw. She earned her first Emmy nomination with her debut Marvel project, the Disney+ series Lokithen praised for her work on set Black Panther: Wakanda forever, will end the season as one of the highest-grossing films of the year. At press time, it has crossed the $400 million mark at the domestic box office and earned $767.8 million worldwide.

She landed the gig when the director’s frequent collaborator Ryan Coogler and her friend, DP Rachel Morrison, had a scheduling conflict and were unable to make a sequel to the hit movie of the year. 2018. “When Rachel found out she couldn’t shoot newspaper 2, she named me,” explains Durald Arkapaw, who, like Morrison, is an AFI graduate. “Obviously I was interested. But after talking to Ryan and meeting him, it strengthens me even more, because he is a very special person.”

At the time, Chadwick Boseman, who played T’Challa/Black Panther, had passed away and the script was being revised. The filmmakers chose not to re-enact T’Challa, but let the character die of illness as the film began. “We will pay tribute to him, and that will be very sensitive. I took it very seriously.”

In terms of visual style, she reflects that “what they did [on the original] too groundbreaking. The aim this time is to explore that further and bring more scope to that world.” The film introduces new worlds and characters, and according to the theme, “we are shining more light on our heroines… dealing with grief, rebirth.” Durald Arkapaw used anamorphic lenses for a wider field of view. “The glass that we chose offers some of the more classic qualities, more aberrations, a more dreamy quality,” she said. She and Coogler wanted natural and realistic lighting.

T'Challa's funeral.

T’Challa’s funeral.

Courtesy of Marvel Studios

Much of the film was shot in Atlanta, but additional scenes were shot on location, including an intimate scene shot on a beach in Puerto Rico. There, Letitia Wright’s Shuri burns her clothes and allows herself to grieve with her brother. And, as part of the end credits (spoiler alert!), she meets Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o), who reveals that she and T’Challa have a son. “Ryan and I want [shoot] at the end of the day. It was the best light for the angle we wanted. And we had a bit of luck; it was windy that day, and the trees were blown away. Not much cloud cover. You’ve got a beautiful, bright light in the lens.”

She continued, “Their performance was sensitive and beautiful. It was one of the most impactful things I’ve ever photographed, where everything was so beautiful and natural. And on a beach in Puerto Rico, where we were watching the sunset right behind her…”

Durald Arkapaw added: “It encapsulates the content of this movie. It’s about family, and it’s about reincarnation. It’s about trying to let go of grief, but it’s still with you, and sometimes you have to carry it with you, and you’re reminded of it. It was one of the best endings I think I’ve ever seen.”

This story first appeared in the December independent issue of The Hollywood Reporter. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.


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