Neil Jordan's The End of the Affair, based on Graham Greene's novel about the collision of adulterous love and Catholic faith, is set in London, 1946, with flashbacks to the war years. It was, says director of photography Roger Pratt, a time of light deprivation. "I was born in 1947, so what I remember is a bit after the war," he says. "We used to have one light on in the middle of the room, and that was about it. People would switch off lights quickly to save money: When you went into a room you would turn the lights on there, but everywhere else they were off. And then, of course, there was the war effort in 1939-45, when it was illegal to show a light through the window.
"What we wanted to create," Pratt continues, "was the feeling that people were holding back, that things were dark, that everything's got to be saved--lights, heating." The mood of the film, which concentrates on the doomed romance between writer (and Greene stand-in) Maurice Bendrix (Ralph Fiennes) and Sarah Miles (Julianne Moore), wife of an unassuming civil servant (Stephen Rea), then, is appropriately somber. There was not to be any visual distinction between the look of past and present time, because the desired effect was of a fluidity between the two. Also, rain and mist often suffuse the atmosphere of the movie, which turns on a bargain made with God.
"We wanted to have a lot of blacks in the picture," says Pratt, whose credits include Brazil and Batman. "We talked about silver retention, and did lots of tests with the Technicolor ENR process, but the way it turned out to be lit was pretty meaty anyway, so we didn't use it. We kept the fill light down, and just made sure it had the claustrophobic feeling of that period. Of course, there was a huge input from the muted colors of the art department," headed by designer Anthony Pratt (no relation to the cinematographer).
Night exteriors were generally lit with a big Wendy light for fill, and whatever practicals were allowed given the setting. For a park scene between Fiennes and Rea, for example, Pratt and gaffer Chuck Finch took advantage of a location where lamps followed a bend in the path for a sense of depth. The modern mercury vapor and sodium lamps had to be refitted with tungsten-balanced fluorescents to approximate period light; actual tungsten couldn't be used because of the lamps' plastic fittings.
Such sequences (pictured) were frequently shot through a veil of rainfall. "The size of the rain is quite crucial to how it's photographed. You don't want it to be too light, because it becomes like a mist, but you don't want it too heavy, because then it's unreal. We wanted to capture that halfway-between-rain-and-mist look that you get in England, but to get that you have to put up a big light to see it." The Wendy, England's equivalent to the Musco, was the rain light for the film, released last month by Columbia Pictures.