Kaminski is particularly fond of the grain structures of Kodak’s 5279 and 5293, which he prefers over the newer Vision2 line. “What makes film negative so special is the grain and the ability to capture information. Some of the newer stocks don’t have enough grain, or the grain is weird. Without grain, film starts to feel digital. In my opinion, 5279 is the best high-speed emulsion in the world. The last 15 pages of Munich’s script take place in New York, where Avner decides to sever his ties with the Mossad, and I shot all of that footage on 79 because I wanted grain and color saturation.”

The show’s bleach-bypass work was shared by three labs: Technicolor Los Angeles, Éclair Laboratories in France, and Technicolor London. When lighting a scene that will undergo a bleach bypass, he says, “I basically bring down the latitude of the film to 3 or 4 stops. You’re putting more light in the shadows, if you want to see into them, and usually the sky will just go. It’s almost like shooting color reversal. When you’re using bleach bypass, you must remember that the negative must be pulled 11⁄2 or 2 stops in the lab to compensate for the process.”

Kaminski was especially pleased by the way Fuji 125T mitigated the harshness of the process. “Bleach bypass makes everything look a little sad — I used it when we shot the Palestinian refugee camps, and I also used it for sequences of some Israeli officials, because both sides are kind of sad.” Another notable bleach-bypass sequence shows the Mossad team, posing as European terrorists, spending the night with Palestinian terrorists in a safe house.

Release prints of Munich were also treated with Technicolor’s patented ENR process (at an IR level of 65-75), and with the picture’s final color timing and ENR application in mind, the production flew Technicolor Los Angeles timer Dale Grahn, a longtime collaborator of Kaminski’s, to Europe during prep to consult with Éclair colorist Yvan Lucas and Technicolor London color timer Huw Phillips. Grahn describes the bleach-bypass look as “whitish and stressed — when you look at it, you feel a little uneasy. White highlights are blown out in the background, and the blacks are really rich.” The bleach-bypass negative was pull-processed by 11⁄2 stops to mitigate the extreme contrast, he adds. “With bleach bypass and ENR, you can’t control the colors well,” notes Kaminski. “The image gets kind of weird, but it looks like the Seventies. The colors aren’t very clean — orange is more like brown, and blue is either blue-green or blue-purple. Munich is not a soft, beautifully lit movie, and occasionally the lighting is really unflattering. There’s a lot of texture, a lot of grain. It’s almost ugly, but I think that’s right for the story.”

A hallmark of Spielberg’s style is a dynamic camera that moves in concert with the actors and the action, and on Munich Kaminski added a zoom lens, a Cooke 25-250mm, to his standard repertoire. “We started with the desire to create a slightly documentary style, but somehow we drifted into complex staging. We have some very complicated camera moves; we dolly and zoom a lot.” In addition to evoking the films of the Seventies, he adds, a zoom can lend the image an “espionage quality. We zoomed in on the terrorists to take them out of the crowd. We did snap zooms, as well as small, elegant zooms. It’s such a characteristic of Seventies movies.”

The Israeli hit team spends a lot of time in cars, staking out targets, and Kaminski says this ordinary setting inspired some complex camerawork. “There are a lot of reflections, and we did a lot of shooting through glass. We might start on the rearview mirror, zoom out, pan, see a reflection in the glass, and then zoom in to go past the window to an explosion. It’s a Seventies camera style, and it gives the images a voyeuristic feel.”

“I’ve spent my career hiding zooms,” says camera operator Mitch Dubin, who has made nine films with Kaminski and Spielberg, “and Janusz has wanted Steven to use a zoom lens for years. Steven would always say, ‘I hate zooms, no way,’ but because this movie is set in the Seventies, he agreed to it. And since we were putting the zoom on, we decided to push the boundaries. We did huge zooms in and out. The last time I used the zoom that way was with Nick Roeg!”

For Spielberg, “the camera is an active participant in the story,” adds Dubin. As an example, he recalls a shot of an explosion set in Athens: “I had to start outside the car and jump into the car just as the explosion happens, and then the car drives off through all this rubble and smoke. We took the door off the car, and I had an Arri 235 on my shoulder. It looks great.” Dubin credits dolly grip Johnny Mang and 1st AC Steve Meizler for the flawless execution of this sequence. (Kaminski offered additional praise for the overall efforts of key grip Jim Kwiatkowski, Steadicam operator Daniele Massaccesi, and B-camera operator/Steadicam  focus puller Mark Spath.)

Kaminski’s main cameras on Munich were Arricam Studios and Lites, and the production carried a set of Cooke S4 primes in addition to the zoom. The main prime lens was a 21mm, according to Dubin. “Steven is very specific about the focal length, and we stayed really wide most of the time,” he says. “We shot with the 14mm and 16mm and then jumped up to the 75mm or 100mm. We sort of left the middle focal lengths alone.”

When planning a shot, Spielberg sometimes frames with a Kish viewfinder and lens, or just walks around the set. “We don’t rehearse a lot with Steven,” says Dubin. “Sometimes he rehearses alone with the actors, and sometimes he runs through a rehearsal with the department heads watching while he uses a viewfinder to work out the shot. Then, when the actors come back from makeup and wardrobe, we usually shoot right away. At other times, Steven has enough of a concept of the shot that he doesn’t need the actors to stand in, and we set up for that shot without a rehearsal. Then, as soon as the actors come in, we start filming. Often the blocking might change; it’s an organic process. Steven is always excited by new ideas, and Janusz knows the blocking is going to be all over the place — he’s out there adjusting lights between take one and take two.”

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© 2006 American Cinematographer.