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Cinematographer Romain Lacourbas Reveals The Unlikely Disney Inspiration For The Witcher Season 2 Premiere - Exclusive

Great cinema over the years has influenced countless filmmakers, so it's not unusual to see homages to classic movies in films and TV shows pop up in modern productions time and again. While there aren't any direct tips of the cap to fantasy classics by filmmaker Romain Lacourbas in the four episodes he directed for Season 2 of the beloved Netflix series "The Witcher," the acclaimed cinematographer said some very familiar titles were definitely on his mind during shooting.

"I re-watched 'The Lord of Rings' and a few 'Game of Thrones' episodes. But more than 'The Lord of the Rings', there's a few scenes in 'Maleficent' [that inspired the look], and probably, more importantly, there's a few scenes in 'Cinderella' — one of the iterations of 'Cinderella' — where I thought [the] color palette [was inspiring]," Lacourbas told Looper in an exclusive interview. "It was in-between poetic storytelling and a very modern way to tell the story."

Thinking about Cinderella helped Lacourbas push his ideas of a colorful atmosphere

Accepting the dauting responsibility to protect Cirilla of Cintra (Freya Allan) at any cost, the Witcher, Geralt of Rivia (Henry Cavill), begins Season 2 by finding safe harbor for the magical princess at his ancestral home of Kaer Morhen. Along the way, Geralt takes a detour to visit his old friend, Nivellen (Kristofer Hivju), a man with dark secret who was cursed to resemble a hairy, fanged beast. Nivellen lives in manor in the woods, and while he comes to admitting a horrifying misdeed, there's no doubt his magical abode hearkens an enlightened, Disney-like atmosphere.

"My thought when I started prep on Season 2 of 'The Witcher' — and Stephen Surjik, the director, was all for it as well — was to try to explore the color and try to push the color, and try to enhance the color in order to make a show colorful, even in a Witcher world, which you can imagine as something not dull, but gray and muddy colors and earthy colors," Lacourbas revealed to Looper. "We really wanted to start pushing the colors and use primaries, pastel colors, as much as we could and enhance the saturation. I started watching references that were colorful to me, [including] 'Cinderella.' I remember doing a scene where the blue was extremely heavy, and the color of the candles were very saturated and the whole room was really warm."

As it turns out, "Witcher" fans mightily embraced the different look of Episode 1,"A Grain of Truth," going so far to call it the best episode of Season 2.

"I thought that, at least for the first episode, it was interesting to try to step into somehow some sort of poetic genre but staying within the heroic fantasy context — especially for that first episode with all the scenes with the cursed Nivellen in his magical manor," Lacourbas said.

Beauty and the Beast was also influential to Lacourbas in the first episode

Apart from "Cinderella," the premiere episode of season 2 of "The Witcher" has a distinct "Beauty and the Beast" feel to it — considering Nivellen in his altered state is reminiscent of the cursed prince in the classic fairy tale, and he's confined to a magical manor akin to the Beast's castle. Effectively, if Lacourbas was going to project a fairy tale atmosphere different from any of the other "Witcher" episodes, "A Grain of Truth" was his only shot, so to speak.

"I thought all those scenes in front of the fire, the dinner scenes, the drawing room, the bathroom scene, needed to feel a little bit like a fairy tale because that's the only moment in the season with an episode that could exist by itself in terms of the writing; in terms of the story only," Lacourbas explained. "From the moment this episode is over, the serious training starts. Right? We enter Kaer Morhen and then it's about Ciri who wants, and possibly is, going to become a Witcher. Episode 1, it's something a little bit apart [from the other episodes]. With Stephen Surjik, we were convinced that this episode needed to have some sort of a fairy tale flavor."

Lacourbas said he took more time to help conceptualize the scene than normal, which he did with a mood board.

"When I have a lot of time, I do a mood board for every scene," said the French filmmaker. "When I have a little bit less time, I do like something more generic ... trying to define the ambience, [it's much easier] to talk about visual and lighting with images than it is with words ... It's a great process to start exploring and finding the right tone for a show. 'Beauty and the Beast' was on my mood board, to tell you the truth. It was. Some of the 'Harry Potter' films were as well."

"The Witcher" Season 2 is now streaming on Netflix.