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Sicario: How cinematographer Roger Deakins found beauty in darkness

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Richard Foreman, Jr.

Sicario director Denis Villeneuve calls cinematographer Roger Deakins “a master of light,” but their gritty cartel thriller often deals in darkness, both literal and figurative.

The story of a dogged FBI agent (Emily Blunt) who finds herself uneasily working with a black-ops team on both sides of the border, Sicario has garnered awards-season attention with its striking imagery, committed performances, and uncompromising narrative.

According to an exclusive video featurette with the cast and crew, Deakins’ vision was integral to the film’s success.

“Roger is a master of light, but more important for me, he’s a strong storyteller,” Villeneuve says. The director also notes that he and Deakins share a similar perspective: “Both of us love to approach a scene with a singular point of view. It’s all about finding simplicity and poetry and strength.”

Blunt, whom Deakins’ dynamic camera follows through the depths of Sicario, adds, “It really is such dark subject matter, and he’s managed to find this beauty within it.”

Costar Benicio Del Toro, playing the enigmatic hitman who gives the movie its title, calls Deakins “a crucial part of this film, as much as the actors and the director.”

As for Deakins himself, the 12-time Oscar nominee insists everything he does is part of a whole. “It’s part of the cinematographer’s job to help create a space for the actors to do their work,” he says. “Because if you don’t have an actor’s performance, you haven’t got a movie.”

Sicario arrives on Digital HD on Dec. 22 and Blu-ray/DVD on Jan. 5. Watch the exclusive video above.

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