The following contains minor spoilers for the Netflix film, Da 5 Bloods.
With the surprising and untimely death of Chadwick Boseman, it's natural to go back and look at the actor's body of work in a new way. Spike Lee, who was one of the final directors to work with Boseman, in the recent Netflix film Da 5 Bloods, looked back at the filming of that movie recently, a time when Boseman was suffering from cancer, but few people knew it, and now sees one key scene in the film as having been touched by God.
Chadwick Boseman's character in the film, Stormin' Norman, died during the Vietnam War, and so, he's mostly only seen in flashback sequences, with younger versions of the rest of the film's main characters. However, near the end of the film Delroy Lindo's Paul finds himself having a one-way conversation with God, leading to a vision of Boseman and an emotional dialogue between them. It's a moment meant to evoke the ethereal and it does, mostly through the use of light, but Spike Lee tells Variety the scene's lighting wasn't part of the production. According to Lee...
I felt it when we shot it. It was God’s heavenly light. We didn’t have light. You know, Delroy [Lindo] is talking to the camera, talking about his conversation with God? We go up, and we come down and we find this heavenly light. It’s Chadwick standing in that light, in that pose. That was God up there. I don’t care what nobody says. That was God’s heavenly light, because that scene’s not lit. That’s natural light. And that was God sending heavenly light on Chadwick.
The scene is beautifully lit. The light is filtering through the trees of the jungle. It's coming down from above and the light and the mist mix together to obscure the background, making it all feel less real. You can get an idea what the scene looks like in the image above. And it's an emotional and heartbreaking scene between the two friends. It's one of several great moments in the film.
Since Delroy Lindo is speaking with a dead man, the heavenly look to the scene makes perfect sense. So much sense that I'm sure most people, myself included, assumed that everything about the lighting had been designed by the production, or had been handled digitally after the fact. Instead, it seems this was all natural lighting that just happened to be perfect for the moment. And considering what would happen just a short time after Da 5 Bloods was released, it makes it easier to believe that there was something special in that moment, as the actor who was playing somebody who had passed away too soon, would do so himself.
Da 5 Bloods can be seen on Netflix now.