Thor Cinematographer Explains All Those Dutch Angle Shots (Exclusive)

By Russ Milheim Posted:
Thor dutch angles, Chris Hemsworth, Marvel Studios logo

Fans now finally have an answer to why the first Thor film contained all those Dutch angle shots.

Long before Taika Waititi re-invented nearly everything about Chris Hemsworth’s God of Thunder in 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok, the iconic Marvel character came from some different visual roots.

Director Kenneth Branagh first introduced the character six years earlier in a much more classic fashion. Thor had long golden locks and blonde eyebrows and lived in the golden spires of Asgard.

That royal gold was a defining trait of the filmmaker’s interpretation of Thor’s world. Another was Branagh’s rather consistent use of Dutch-angled shots throughout the movie, a technique where the camera is titled on an angle that results in a shot that has a horizon line not parallel to the ground.

Thor's Dutch Angles Explained

Thor Dutch angle shot
Marvel Studios

While speaking exclusively with The Direct’s Russ Milheim, Haris Zambarloukos, the cinematographer behind 2011’s original Thor film, finally explained why the early MCU film had many slanted shots.

Zambarloukos admitted “it was a hard decision to make” but that it was a simple way of showing “the difference between dissonance and harmony in a character or landscape:”

“It was a hard decision to make. But it seemed to be a very simple way of showing kind of the difference between dissonance and harmony in a character or a landscape, and without much, and it seemed to work in that graphic world that the comic books had come from. And it also seemed to trace back to the German expressionist idea of delving deep into the soul and into the psyche.

Heimdall, Idris Elba, Thor
Marvel Studios

He then went into how Thor's mythological origins played into it all:

"And Thor is a kind of mythological, modern-day interpretation of mythology. And mythology has always delved into the human condition and the human psyche. And it's dissonant, and it goes back to creating and earning a kind of harmony or dissonance. So that play when you use it, and when you don't, I think, is a very useful and interesting tool. I think we've never used it - we've never used it as much with [Kenneth Branagh] as we had in 'Thor.' But it always comes back to us. We always feel like there's a certain moment in some films that we need to - it has its place.”

The cinematographer is once again working with Kenneth Branagh on their upcoming Agatha Christie detective film, A Haunting in Venice. But how different is an experience like that compared to working on a superhero blockbuster?

Instead of focusing on what makes creating those two projects so different, Zambarloukos chose to highlight what’s the most important part of any story: “the human aspect.”

The filmmaker made it clear that “any story kind of has to embed itself in the human nature and human condition” in order to tell a “truly impactful and meaningful story:”

“...What we've always said is that it's the human aspect of the story that's the most important. And I think part of the success of 'Thor' is that it's broken down through, regardless of the action, and regardless of the plot, that was again a story of rivalry of brothers, a family tension... Any story kind of has to embed itself in the human nature and human condition to have a truly impactful and meaningful story to tell to the audience. So that aspect of it, however big or small, that it remains intimate and true to human condition, I think runs throughout all great storytelling. And it's something we aspire to do.”

A Haunting of Venice releases on September 15.

Could Fans See a Return to Branagh's Vision of Thor?

While Kenneth Branagh’s original Thor might not be the best Chris Hemsworth MCU film, it did boast a unique visual style to the hero and his world that is mostly lost at this point.

Though fans loved Taika Waititi’s debut Thor adventure and the many changes it made, the reception to Love and Thunder might indicate that audiences are ready for another major shift. Perhaps now is the time to recapture some of Branagh’s original vision.

The filmmaker made his love of Thor’s mythological roots crystal clear—once again embracing that mindset could be the best next step for Hemsworth’s Avenger. Maybe it’ll even include more Dutch angles.

Though, given the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s crowded slate and all its many delays and uncertainties, who knows if the world will even get another Thor film?

Thor is now streaming on Disney+.

- About The Author: Russ Milheim
Russ Milheim is the Industry Relations Coordinator at The Direct. On top of utilizing his expertise on the many corners of today’s entertainment to cover the latest news and theories, he establishes and maintains communication and relations between the outlet and the many studio and talent representatives.