In video games, outside of cutscenes which are typically traditionally blocked and shot, the camera is often placed behind the protagonist’s back, drawing the player into their field of vision. Although it allows full immersion into a character’s singular perspective, it also is typically harder to frame important details, as the player has control over the camera and its movements.
“The Last of Us” is no different, and these gameplay sequences don’t naturally translate into television. So, in addition to replicating the minimalist, organic “look” that “The Last of Us” had established in the game’s cutscenes, there was also a need to fill in the blanks. Bolter explained:
“I think there are subtle differences, but again, ‘The Last of Us’ just has a kind of style that’s inherent, and quite often it was about less is more. It was about a kind of cinematic naturalism. It was about lighting a room rather than a shot. And letting flaws exist, and leaning into those flaws.”
There’s a desolate beauty to “The Last of Us,” as Joel and Ellie explore an America that has been reclaimed by mother nature. Man-made buildings are covered in vines, rust, and greenery. There’s an ironic quality to the “naturalism” conveyed by the cinematography, where horrifying images such as dead clickers grown into fungus walls and Cordyceps tendrils sprouting from moss are shot with the same normalcy as an abandoned suburb or fallen city.