The Crow (1994) / Dariusz Wolski, ASC, Episode #62

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SPONSORED BY: ASC Master Class

To mark the 20th anniversary of the release of The Crow, we asked cinematographer Dariusz Wolski, ASC, to revisit his work on the film, which helped launch his and director Alex Proyas’ careers in Hollywood. Wolski explains how he and his collaborators worked with a “shoestring” budget to create the picture’s now iconic look, which is marked by an expressionistic use of light and shadow and a unique desaturated palette punctuated with boldly colored flashbacks. Wolski says, “We were trying to find a new look — not new, really, but a response to what was going on in cinema at the time.” He also discusses how the filmmakers approached some scenes after lead actor Brandon Lee died in an accident on set.

  • Eric Draven (Brandon Lee) makes his first public appearance as The Crow in a seedy pawnshop.
  • Eric Draven (Brandon Lee) shortly before he transforms into The Crow.
  • The Crow (Brandon Lee) confronts Tin Tin (Laurence Mason), one of the criminals who attacked him and his fiancée.
  • Cinematographer Dariusz Wolski, ASC, fine-tunes Brandon Lee’s lighting as director Alex Proyas (second from left) discusses the scene with Ernie Hudson (left) and Lee.
  • A-camera operator David Crone captures a shot of an attacker for a vibrantly colored flashback to the murders. Visible at far left is Wolski’s gaffer, future ASC cinematographer Claudio Miranda.
  • For another flashback to the criminals’ attack, A-camera operator David Crone captures the victim’s POV as Tin Tin (Laurence Mason) menaces Draven’s fiancée.
  • Director of photography Dariusz Wolski, ASC, on the cemetery set.

About the Project

Adapted from the comic book by James O’Barr, The Crow blends science fiction, romance and horror to tell a tale of revenge. One year after Eric Draven (Brandon Lee) and his fiancée, Shelly (Sofia Shinas), are murdered in their home by a criminal gang on Devil’s Night, Draven returns from the dead to avenge their deaths, picking off the criminals one by one.

About the Cinematographer

Born and raised in Poland, Dariusz Wolski, ASC, enjoyed many commercial and music-video collaborations with director Alex Proyas before they tackled The Crow. Shortly thereafter, they reteamed on Dark City. Wolski has since embarked on multiple collaborations with directors Ridley Scott, Tony Scott, Tim Burton and Gore Verbinski. His recent credits include The Counselor, Prometheus, the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, Alice in Wonderland and Sweeney Todd. He earned an ASC Award nomination for Crimson Tide.

American Cinematographer interviews cinematographers, directors and other filmmakers to take you behind the scenes on major studio movies, independent films and popular television series.

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