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favourite cinematographer


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Do you have a favourite cinematographer? And is there a cinematographer you like so much that their name in the credits is sufficient reason, on its own, for you to watch a movie?

 

For me, both John Alton and Nicholas Musuraca fall into that category.

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Jack Cardiff, James Wong Howe, Gregg Toland, Ernest Haller, George Folsey, William Daniels, Lee Garmes are names I am always pleased to see in the credits. There are others whose work I am still learning to recognize.

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One of the names I forgot to mention earlier was Emmanuel Lubezki, one of the most promising cinematographers anywhere in the world.

 

Lubezki got started with his close friend, director Alfonso Cuaron (The Children of Men) and worked with him in (among others) Solo Con Tu Pareja (now available on DVD from Criterion Collection), A Little Princess, Great Expectations (1998), Y Tu Mama Tambien and the recent Children of Men

 

Along the way he's served as DP for other prominent directors including Terence Malick in The New World, Mike Nichols in The Birdcage, Tim Burton in Sleepy Hollow and Michael Mann in Ali.

 

He's reportedly currently working with Martin Scorsese on an unnamed project.

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> Primarily because the makers of the film (the

> American Society of Cinematographers, who

> commissioned it) have an Ameri-centric view of

> movie-making.

 

In that case I'm not quite so disapopinted that I haven't been able to see it. How you can talk about cinematography and ignore everything that happens outside of one country is quite beyond me.

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WHOA!!!!

 

When did TCM viewers turn into an angry lynch mob?

 

Seriously, lighten up!!!!!!!

 

Visions of Light is a very, very, very good documentary about cinematography. It is without a doubt not perfect, and it's very likely that it could have been greatly enriched if it had included some of Jack Cardiff's work.

 

But I don't think it was an intentional oversight -- it just so happens that the bulk of the documentary consists of 26 directors of cinematography talking about their work and those of other DP's that helped them and/or whose work they inspired.

 

Now, I can't be 100% about this, but it's possible that the makers of the movie simply couldn't get the rights for the film clips that could show Cardiff's work. Or maybe none of the 26 DP's interviewed had a chance to interact with Cardiff much.

 

Nor is the documentary by any stretch of the imagination a totally "Ameri-centric" creation, it certainly does a good job of acknowledging the great talent of Vittorio Storaro, who has worked on both Italian and American movies.

 

In any event, I suppose a documentary that highlighted the work of American and British DP's alike could, in any event, be accused of being "Anglo-centric". So it is ultimately impossible to please everybody!!!

 

At least there's a really really good documentary about DP's and their work out there, perhaps at some point the BSC will consider doing one that centers on the work of British DP's, starting with Cardiff.

 

-----------

 

P.S. Here is the original Variety review, and it does acknowledge that the doc centers on American DP's and those who've worked on American film -- and it does mention clip rights as a possible reason. :)

 

Visions of Light: The Art of Cinematography

 

(Docu--Color/B&W -- U.S.-Japanese) An American Film Institute-NHK/Japan Broadcasting co-production. Produced by Stuart Samuels. Executive producers, Terry Lawler, Yoshiki Nishimura. Co-producer, Arnold Glassman. Directed by Glassman, Todd McCarthy, Samuels. Written by McCarthy.

 

With: Nestor Almendros, John Alonzo, John Bailey, Michael Ballhaus, Stephen Burum, Bill Butler, Michael Chapman, Allan Daviau, Caleb Deschanel, Ernest Dickerson, Frederick Elmes, William Fraker, Conrad Hall, James Wong Howe, Victor Kemper, Lazslo Kovacs, Charles Lang, Sven Nykvist, Lisa Rinzler, Owen Roizman, Charles Rosher, Jr., Sandi Sissel, Vittorio Storaro, Haskell Wexler, Robert Wise , Gordon Willis, Vilmos Zsigmond.

 

By GERALD PRATLEY

Cleverly structured and compiled, this fascinating documentary brings audiences face to face with 26 leading cinematographers who talk about their work and that of others combined with well-chosen excerpts from famous films.

 

At a time when the public is showing more interest than ever in the way films are made-- witness the number of dox on "the making of ..."--this revealing study of what cinematographers have done when it comes to putting images on film is constantly absorbing and frequently exciting.

 

The lensers have pertinent observations to make about how and why they photographed certain films and how past cinematographers' works have influenced them.

 

The film excerpts encompass a history of mostly American movies, from Billy Bitzer's "Birth of a Nation" to Gregg Toland's "Citizen Kane" to "Godfather III" shot by Gordon Willis (referred to as "The Prince of Darkness" by Conrad Hall, and who does admit that "sometimes I overdid it"). The excerpts are truly impressive.

 

From beautiful close-ups to sweeping crane shots, one comes to a new appreciation of that overworked phrase "the magic of the movies."

 

The interviews, naturally set, carefully lit and relaxed, were shot on HDTV and are never too long between excerpts. The latter are from 35mm prints, most in perfect condition, and respect all their different aspect ratios.

 

There is no annoying off-screen voice asking questions. Shown at Cannes on HDTV, it will be released as a 35mm print for specialized exhibition.

 

Among the many conclusions to be drawn from the achievements and experiences of those interviewed, it becomes clear from their ideas and those of their predecessors that what could be done with their cameras was always ahead of technology.

 

Their improvisations became the new advances in forthcoming models. For example, tribute is paid to Robert Surtees, who at 65 was still experimenting while shooting "The Graduate."

 

With the AFI being a co-producer, this documentary confines itself largely to American cinematographers and those Europeans who have worked on American films.

 

As always with compilations, there are missing favorites due probably to clip rights and availability of other cinematographers. Sequels would be in order because these are interesting artists whom viewers seldom meet.

 

For example, Allen Daviau ("E.T.,""Empire of the Sun") relates his knowledge of the past with enthusiasm and authority. Other memorable segments are William Fraker's funny anecdote about shooting "Rosemary's Baby," the discussion of a "New York style" of cinematography and Conrad Hall's comments on how he and his contemporaries helped to make "mistakes" (i.e., camera flair) acceptable to studio heads.

 

Apart from this doc's appeal to movie buffs and general audiences, this is a work with a long life in the teaching of film.

 

It illustrates in 90 minutes what an instructor could never hope to achieve in months. Arnold Glassman, Stuart Samuels, Todd McCarthy and their colleagues have produced an insightful chronicle proving once again the American film at its best is truly an art. Camera (color/B&W/High Definition TV) Nancy Schreiber; editor, Glassman; associate executive producer, Mariko Jane Hirai. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (non-competing), May 14, 1992. Running time: 90 min.

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I find the whole topic intriguing. Didn't mean to imply Cardiff was my only

concern as far as great cinematographers are concerned.

 

I just hope that I can view it some day. I'm even more intrigued about it now

than before your post with the Variety review.

 

I enjoy a wide range of films, actors, actresses, and cinematographers,

and I enjoy reading about all these different points of view concerning film.

Thanks for locating the info.

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