The Rings Of Power Cinematographer Reveals One Of His Most Difficult Scenes To Light [Exclusive]

This post contains spoilers for the latest episode of "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power."

The world of "Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" is getting darker and darker with each passing episode. Last week, an already-somber day in Middle-earth was blown apart by the sudden explosion of Mount Doom. This week, the trek away from the golden-lit, idyllic world of the series' opening episodes continues, as we see the formation of Mordor and a pretty bleak attack on the migrating harfoots' resources. /Film's Vanessa Armstrong interviewed the episode's director of photography, Alex Disenhof, in time for this week's episode, and asked him about the literal and metaphorical darkness that's been moving from the fringes of the show towards center stage.

In particular, Armstrong and Disenhof chatted about the lighting of a harrowing scene in "The Eye," when three hooded figures appear and burn the carts that held much of Nori (Markella Kavenagh) and her community's supplies. "That scene was one of the most challenging scenes," Disenhof shared. "As a cinematographer, it's always difficult to convey moonlit scenes when things are purely lit by the moon. You always ride this fine line of how dark can you make it to feel realistic and how light to go so people can see what they're watching."

This is certainly something fantasy fans have seen recently, with the most recent episode of HBO's "House of the Dragon" rekindling a conversation began by the final season of "Game of Thrones" about night-time scenes that are too dark for viewers to see. While the cart-burning scene doesn't quite necessitate the level of squinting that other dragon show did, Disenhof does say he intentionally made the scene less visible as a creative choice. "With this one, I did go particularly dark, because I felt like it was scarier to almost not be able to see them."

A flame in the night

While we've seen the trio of mystics responsible for the cart-burning before, their appearance in this scene is especially ominous, as their white cloaks look shadowy and their faces unreadable in the darkness. Disenof says that, too, was intentional. "The harfeet at that moment are unsure of who these people are, and what they're doing there. And we wanted to the scene feel like the harfeet did, that we were a little bit unsure of their purpose," Disenof says. The near-silent suspense as the two groups assess each other only lasts a moment though, before one of the mystics grabs the harfoot's torch flame with their bare hand, magically turning it into embers that ignite a fire across the poor little folks' camp.

"To have that big explosion of light at the end as their world was burning was an interesting visual to me," Disenof noted, referencing the moment the night lights up when the fire takes hold. "We definitely pushed the level of darkness on that scene for story reasons." Your mileage may vary, but I think the story reasons paid off: that shot of the mystic's hand reaching for Nori from just out of frame after the trio disappeared is like something out of a horror movie, and all the scarier because it's too dark for the harfoot to notice in time to run away.

"Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" airs new episodes Fridays on Prime Video.