I have to say, I find the cinematography of Wolf Hall a bit of a conundrum. I read Jon Fauer's terrific interview with Gavin Finney in the current F&D Times, and while I really admire the specificity of the approach Finney and Peter Kosminsky took to the material, and how determinedly they stuck to it. For me, their approach failed spectacularly.
The 'documentary' style of shooting handheld, just drew so much attention to itself (particularly in the context of a period piece, and how we're used to seeing them) that I could never really get past the outward artifice of the show and engage properly with the narrative. It was like having a permanently broken fourth wall the whole time.
I also found that the naturalism of the lighting at times, particularly harsh sunlight through the windows at times, when combined with the incredibly modern crispness of the image (as you'd expect from Alexa and Summilux-Cs) just felt so harsh (again in the context of what we're used to with period films) that it would also take me out of the show at times.
Which brings me to the lenses. When I first read about the new Leicas they sounded spectacular. Like every possible lens flaw had been addressed. A remarkable feat of optical engineering. So I started seeking out material that had been shot by these incredible lenses, only to discover that each and every thing I saw felt somehow flat and lifeless, lacking in the dimensionality we're used to seeing in films. I noticed this same quality yet again with Wolf Hall, and it's led me to the conclusion that the Summilux-Cs are simply too perfect for their own good.
All of which leads me to why I found the cinematography of the series a conundrum. Their approach to it has been executed superbly, and they seem to have achieved exactly what they set out to do (which is to be commended) - but the approach they chose just doesn't work for me at all. I found the style of the imagery distracting and detrimental to the quality of everything else that was being put on the screen.
Now it may be that I'm simply too used to the conventional glossiness of period dramas, and that's why the unique approach Finney and Kosminsky took with Wolf Hall just rubs me up the wrong way. But it really didn't work for me. I'd be very interested to hear how their approach worked for other people?