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DP Kasper Tuxen DFF lenses a modern-day love story on 35mm for…

Set in contemporary Oslo, Norway, The Worst Person in the World (Verdens Verste Menneske) is a comic drama about the pursuit of love-and-meaning in our times. Directed by Joachim Trier, and shot on Kodak 35mm film by Danish DP Kasper Tuxen DFF, the movie is in-competition for the Palme d’Or at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival.

Written by Trier and Eskil Vogt, and taking place over a four-year period, the story follows Julie, a 30-year-old whose life is an existential mess. Several of her talents have gone to waste and her older boyfriend, Aksel – a successful graphic novelist – wants to settle down and raise a family. However, one night, Julie gatecrashes a wedding party and encounters the young and charming Eivind. Before long, she has broken up with Aksel and thrown herself into yet another new relationship, leading her to take a look at who she really is and the understanding that some life choices have already passed her by.

The Worst Person in the World, a $5.7M Norwegian/French/Swedish/Danish co-production, sees theatre actress Renate Reinsve making her longform feature debut as Julie, alongside Anders Danielsen Lie as Aksel, and Herbert Nordrum as Eivind. It represents the closing chapter of Trier’s humanistic contemplation of the human condition in the so-called Oslo Trilogy, which includes his feature debut, Reprise (2006, DP Jakob Ihre DFF) and Oslo, August 31st (2011, DP Jakob Ihre), which premiered in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard. Both were shot on Kodak 35mm film.

“I am very proud to attend Cannes, and it’s exciting to know this film will be watched on its premiere by an audience that really respects cinema,” says Tuxen, who frequently shoots music videos, shorts and commercials on film, but who had not shot a longform feature on film since leaving the Danish National Film School in 2003.

“One of the most important aspects of shooting this movie on 35mm was how it acted as an intensifier,” he remarks. “This was Renate’s first major screen role, and she, along with the other actors, gave it everything they had. For them, it was as though every take was the opening night on a theatre stage. We did not want to lose that energy of emotion, and shooting on film had the incredible effect of magnifying everyone’s attention on set and making sure we were always ready to capture those amazing performances.”

The Worst Person in the World was supposed to have started filming in Oslo during April 2020. However, due to Norway’s national lockdown, the production commenced at the start of August, under strict testing and safety protocols, concluding 11 weeks later in October. For Tuxen this meant an extended stay in the city, but he used that time productively, renting a bicycle and touring around to observe the light at the chosen locations.

“Joachim and I are both fans of natural lighting, and I was highly-aware that the summer weather was going to be good for our shoot” says Tuxen. “But by the same token, the way that Joachim likes to give actors adequate time for crucial scenes, some of which were quite long, meant that I knew I would have to protect the look through the lighting – not an inconsiderable challenge.”

During production this required that some exterior scenes – such as the magically-unreal, frozen-moment sequence when Julie crosses the town to see Eivind, but everything else remains motionless – were shot over the course of several days to ensure lighting continuity. Additionally, many lengthy interior daytime scenes had to be shot under controlled artificial lighting, using bounced light from different ARRI LED SkyPanels, Daylight HMI Fresnels and LiteGear LiteTiles, plus carefully-positioned Astera tubes, again for the sake of continuity.

During his extended prep period, Tuxen was encouraged by Trier to study the theatrical nature and storytelling power of the camera in films by renowned auteur filmmakers, such as Michelangelo Antonioni, Andrei Tarkovski and Éric Rohmer, as well as more contemporary directors including Martin Scorsese and Paul Thomas Anderson.

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