Directed by Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog is a Western in all its trappings. However, as cinematographer Ari Wegner, ACS points out, it deviates from the genre in a fundamental way: “It’s not two people dueling with guns; it’s two people dueling with a look.”
Adapted by Campion from Thomas Savage’s 1967 eponymous novel, the film is set in 1925 Montana on a cattle ranch owned by brothers George and Phil Burbank. The dynamic between the siblings shifts when quiet, stolid George (Jesse Plemons) weds the widow Rose (Kirsten Dunst) and brings her home along with her sensitive son, Peter (Kodi Smit-McPhee). Phil (Benedict Cumberbatch) isn’t happy about this new arrangement and starts a passive-aggressive campaign against the newcomers.
In this ASC Clubhouse Conversation discussion with Mandy Walker, ASC, ACS, Wegner discusses her camerawork on the production, which was photographed in a 2.40:1 aspect ratio with Arri Alexa LF cameras paired with Panavision Ultra Panatar lenses.
The cinematographer was born in Melbourne, Australia. Her credits include the features Zola, In Fabric, Strayand Lady Macbeth. Her television credits include The Girlfriend Experience and The Kettering Incident. Wegner received the Toronto International Film Festival Variety Artisan Award and the Middleburg Film Festival Distinguished Cinematographer Award.
Walker was also born in Melbourne, and after graduating from high school, she studied film criticism and cinema studies with filmmaker and academic John Flaus. Her credits include Tracks, Hidden Figures, The Mountain Between Us and Mulan. On the 2008 feature Australia, she became she first woman to photograph a feature with a budget over $100 million, and she is also the first woman of the Motion Picture Academy’s Cinematographers Branch to be elected to the Board of Governors.
Reporting by Patricia Thomson.
You’ll find all episodes in our ASC Clubhouse Conversations discussion series here.