Wonder Woman has become a record breaking box office hit and critical success, with many fans praising the now iconic No Man’s Land sequence as one of the greatest moments in superhero film history. In an interview with Collider, cinematographer Matt Jensen discussed how both he and director Patty Jenkins worked with the filmmaking team to create the fan-favorite sequence and how it was realized on the big screen.
Jensen shared behind-the-scenes details on how the scene was crafted with the pre-vis and visual effects team before production began:
It was always one of the major sequences that was causing us the most concern and we put the most work inot. I think it was one of the earliest pre-vis meetings I had when I got onboard the film. The visual effects team had been working on it with Patty for a couple of weeks and I was brought in to help and make suggestions, so we were meeting quite often to really sketch that sequence out and it kept evolving and evolving. I think the big thing that Patty and I talked about was other superhero origin movies had done this very effectively where the alter ego is not revealed until kind of mid-way through the movie, and it creates this tension, this sense of anticipation because you’re waiting for the hero to do something, to emerge. So we knew we could do that if we could create tension and we could create a sense of anticipation, so we were trying to kind of funnel all of that into that moment so that when she finally emerges as Wonder Woman for the first time, that there was this tremendous build-up and then there was a release. So we really worked to get those shots correct and right from the moment that Steve tells her, “This is not what we were here to do,” from that moment on to when she emerges from the trench, Patty, the storyboard artists, pre-vis artists, and me we all contributed to the shot design to reveal her in that moment.
Jensen also discussed the reshoots for the scene, explaining that nothing was re-done, but instead additional footage was shot to help build tension:
Well actually for No Man’s Land really nothing was reshot. We shot pieces of that sequence all the way through the whole production just because it was technically complicated, we couldn’t achieve everything on our backlot set. But the one scene that we did during the additional photography was the scene just prior to it where she had seen the horses in the mud and a guy missing his leg and calling out for his mother and she’s like “Why can’t we help these people?” and they’re saying “Move on! We gotta move on!” That was all Patty’s idea and it came I think in the edit. She had had that scene in the script earlier but because of the schedule and logistics we pulled it out, and then she felt in editing she needed it back to do the exact same thing that I was talking about which is to notch up the tension, to just have another scene where she’s being told “Don’t do this. Don’t do this. Don’t help.” To sort of ignore her instincts to be of service, and we wanted to suggest that they were getting closer and closer to the front and it was getting louder and more chaotic and horrific.
It appears the hard work of Jenkins, Jensen, and the rest of the film’s creative team put into the crafting the scene paid off, as audiences around the world have cited the sequence as one of the most memorable and inspiring scenes in a film of any genre.
Before she was Wonder Woman, she was Diana, princess of the Amazons, trained to be an unconquerable warrior. Raised on a sheltered island paradise, when an American pilot crashes on their shores and tells of a massive conflict raging in the outside world, Diana leaves her home, convinced she can stop the threat. Fighting alongside man in a war to end all wars, Diana will discover her full powers… and her true destiny.
Directed by Patty Jenkins, Wonder Woman stars Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, David Thewlis, Danny Huston, Elena Anaya, Ewen Bremner and Saïd Taghmaoui.
Wonder Woman will be released in theaters on June 2, 2017.