Recently I watched season two episode five of homeland, and remarked to my wife how the lighting was used in this crucial episode to communicate a key idea about the central character.
Follow this link to see the creator Alex Gansa explain what is to happen in the episode.
Included in the short sequence are key excerpts from the interrogation, which show how the use of lighting aids audience understanding and builds sympathy for the characters.
It really is worth watching the whole interrogation sequence to see how this idea is developed (actually I believe it’s worth watching the whole series). Rather than breach copyright controls it is best to watch the whole episode, in the US it’s likely to be going through the repeat cycle for most of this week on Showtime or HBO, and of course netflix. In Europe it’ll be broadcast on UK Channel Four Sunday next at 2100 GMT (Monday E4 mid afternoon or 4/7 sometime, check the schedules) This sequence illustrates how the idea that Gansa explains has been communicated using the lighting on the character of Nicholas Brody.
In this shot reversal sequence the darkness consistently hides Brody’s eyes as he lies and dissembles, obscuring our ability to trust his answers. As the sequence progresses this darkness is punctuated by very occasional pin-points of reflected light, mostly from his left eye. While these are short and intermittent, they are significant particularly during the phase where his interrogator (Carrie Mathieson) attempts to make him recall what remains of his essential goodness, while surrounded by monsters, and when he finally gives genuine information. This matches and synchronises with the pin-points we see earlier in his interrogator’s eyes. This reveals her intentions, reaching his essential moral core in order to ‘turn him’. It further emphasises the similarities between the characters and ties them together even more firmly in our minds and offers us a glimmer of hope about Brody.