David Hurn Shoots Black Mirror

The Magnum photographer was invited by Netflix to shoot on the set of the sixth season's surprising final episode.

All photos © David Hurn/Magnum Photos for Netflix.

In the 1960s and 70s, photographer David Hurn was a regular on large film and television sets, capturing stars such as Sean Connery as James Bond, The Beatles as they filmed A Hard Day’s Night and, of course, Jane Fonda in the iconic lead role in Barbarella.

Decades on, Netflix invited Hurn to shoot on the set of an episode for hit anthology series Black Mirror. The episode, titled ‘Demon 79′, is the last of the series’ sixth season, which came out in June. 

Left: Nida played by Anjana Vasan Right: Gaap played by Paapa Essiedu

The episode is set in a fictional town of Northern England in 1979. Nida, a meek shoeshop assistant played by Anjana Vasan, unwittingly summons a demon who informs her that she must commit three murders in three days to prevent disaster. The demon, played by Paapa Essiedu, takes on the form of Bobby from Boney M — Nida’s secret crush — in fabulous, full 1970s attire, a stark contrast to the dreary backdrop of Possets Department store where she works.

Hurn’s brief was to shoot 1970s looking images, mainly portraits of the two main characters, alongside candid, on-set imagery.

In the series finale, Black Mirror writers Charlie Brooker and Bisha K Ali shift away from dystopic visions of the future and now cast their eyes to the past. Directed by Toby Haynes, it is the first episode to unveil the intriguing label, ‘Red Mirror’, marking a distinct shift to a supernatural, rather than technological, premise, and reminiscent of classic 1970s horror. 

Michael Smart, Conservative politician played by David Shields.

“Of course I have massive experience on film sets so the thought of re-working in this field after 30 or 40 years was pleasing rather than daunting,” Hurn explains in an interview with Creative Review. “I was surprised by the amount of people — so many clipboards — at least as many as a major film set of earlier times. What was obvious for me was how equipment had advanced and is now so much smaller.”

‘Demon 79’ is now available to stream worldwide on Netflix.

David Hurn will be present at the Magnum Gallery in London on Thursday, July 13 for the launch of his new book David Hurn: Photographs 1955–2022. The event is free and starts at 6:30 PM. To attend, register here.

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