Pope revisits lenses that retain original Speed Panchro characteristics.
Cinematographer Dick Pope, BSC, chose to return to Cooke Panchro/i Classic Prime lenses to shoot Supernova, a new but already much acclaimed poignant portrait of love and loss. The film written and directed by Harry Macqueen stars Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci.
Supernova follows Sam (Colin Firth) and Tusker (Stanley Tucci), partners of 20 years, on a road trip across England visiting friends, family, and places from their past. Since Tusker was diagnosed with early-onset dementia two years ago, their time together is the most important thing they have.
“The lenses I chose for Supernova were based on the look that Harry Macqueen wanted for his film, which was somewhat old fashioned, warm and romantic in feel, offering a close and intimate chemistry between the two main characters,” said Pope. “I arranged a screening for him of Edward Norton’s Motherless Brooklyn, on which I had previously used Cooke Panchro/i Classic Primes, and Harry loved them on that film. Subsequent testing for Supernova featuring the principal actors confirmed our thoughts. Harry described them as having a rounded and natural feel which reels in the viewer.”
Pope had also used the original Cooke Speed Panchros on Mike Leigh’s Mr Turner (2014). “These classic go-to Hollywood lenses from the 1950s and 1960s were loved by Stanley Kubrick and often used by him – for example, on Spartacus,” he said. “The updated Panchro/i Classics retain the same characteristics as those vintage lenses. They certainly haven’t lost the feel of the originals with their tiny front elements, compact profile and lightness of weight.
“Over the three films I’ve shot with both the original and updated versions, I have become very attached to the antique look of the Panchros, partly because they’re not clean, modern looking or super sharp, but really rather ‘painterly’ and cinematic. Like the originals they feature the eccentricities of the original Speed Panchro designs, and when used wide open, can if required, offer focus fall-off at the edges of frame along with a gentle fall off in the corners — in fact, all the attributes Harry and I really wanted for Supernova.”
Supernova is playing at international film festivals, and is released on 27 November 2020 in the UK.