“Phantom Thread” marks many monumental occasions for cinephiles: It’s the big reunion between “There Will Be Blood” director Paul Thomas Anderson and star Daniel Day-Lewis; it’s reportedly Day-Lewis’ final screen performance before retirement; and it’s Anderson’s debut as his own cinematographer.
Robert Elswit has served as cinematographer on every Anderson feature except for “The Master,” which was shot by Mihai Mălaimare Jr., but the director decided to take a break from his regular collaborator on “Phantom Thread” and photograph the film himself.
You can get your first look at DP Anderson by watching the trailer here, and click through the gallery for the 20 best shots from his cinematography debut.
Daniel Day-Lewis is fashion designer Reynolds Woodcock, who is at the center of British fashion, dressing royalty, movie stars, heiresses, socialites, debutants and dames with the distinct style of The House of Woodcock.
Given the subject matter, Anderson pays considerable attention to the way each character gets dressed.
Anderson’s blocking often traps his subjects in between door frames and windows. “Phantom Thread” looks to be full of this trademark aesthetic of his.
Anderson bathes The House of Woodcock in an almost-angelic white palette.
In keeping with his preference of shooting on film over digital, Anderson filmed “Phantom Thread” using 35mm film stock.
Day-Lewis hasn’t appeared in a feature film since Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln” in 2012. The movie won the actor his third Best Actor Oscar.
Vicky Krieps plays Alma, a strong-willed young woman who becomes the romantic obsession of Woodcock.
Principal photography began in January 2017 in Lythe, England. Filming also took place in the Central London district of Fitzrovia.
Anderson clearly took tips from Mălaimare Jr.’s work on “The Master.” Notice the way he’s playing with lighting to illuminate Kreps’ character, while keeping Day-Lewis’ Woodcock in a dark silhouette. It’s not hard to figure out who the villain is in this relationship.
The holy light from Alma shines down on Woodcock. Anderson is clearly presenting her as the holy angel in Woodcock’s life.
Anderson never saw a door he couldn’t frame his characters in between.
Highlighting Woodcock’s fashion will be of upmost importance to Anderson. This shot of Alma trying on Woodcock’s latest gown is almost painterly in its lighting and composure.
Woodcock stares intently at Alma. The trailer is devoted to the growing tension between these two lovers, and shots like these express the distance that gets created between them.
Woodcock watches Alma through a keyhole. Anderson again uses bright light to signify her holiness.
Anderson will continue his use of chiaroscuro lighting effects in “Phantom Thread.”
Shots like these suggest Anderson used natural lighting in certain scenes.
One of the most important crew members on “Phantom Thread” is costume designer Mark Bridges. You’ll want to pay particular attention to the colors and fittings of every item of clothing the characters wear. Here we see a visibly uncomfortable Alma in black.
Alma stands in front of a miniature stature, although Anderson has turned her into the frame’s most dominant monument.
Day-Lewis is allegedly retiring from acting after “Phantom Thread.” He’ll have starred in 17 feature films.
“Phantom Thread” seems more like “The Master” than any other Anderson feature in shots like these.
“Whatever you do, do it carefully,” Alma warns Woodcock at the very end of the trailer. “Phantom Thread” opens in select theaters on Christmas Day.