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Empire Film Studies 101

TOP CINEMATOGRAPHERS REVEAL THEIR FAVOURITE MOVIE MOMENTS
21 DPs pick the shots that inspire them...

Cinematographers - or 'directors of photography', if you're not into the whole brevity thing - have been the unsung heroes of cinema since the year dot. If the writer is a movie's synapses and the director is its heart, the DP is the eyes. Manipulating light, depth and perspective to elevate even the most simple stories into things of beauty, they are often filmmaking's unsung heroes. Gregg Toland, Freddie Young, Jack Cardiff, Vittorio Storaro, Conrad Hall, Jordan Cronenweth, Christopher Doyle, Roger Deakins... the roll call of greats is glorious. To celebrate their achievements and demystify their work, Film Studies 101 asked 21 of cinema's top DPs to pick a moment in the history of the art that has inspired and moved them. Empire is proud to share their selections with you.

WORDS PHIL DE SEMLYEN


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Roger Deakins

The great Roger Deakins CBE is the man who made Skyfall shimmer like no other Bond movie, whose stellar work with the Coens began with Barton Fink ten Joel-and-Ethan movies ago, and who currently has 11 - count 'em - Oscar nominations to his name.

Beloved of directors and all of his fellow cinematographers, it's safe to say he's high on the Christmas card list for most of the actors he's lit, too. "Sometimes you get a cinematographer who shoots something, and you walk into their light, and they're doing 50 per cent of my job," Jake Gyllenhaal recently told The Hollywood Reporter. "I walked into Roger Deakins' lighting in two different movies, and I didn't feel I had to give a performance." The Academy has agreed and included his work on Prisoners in this year's Oscars shortlist.

In short, Deakins is a giant of his field. He spoke to Empire from Sydney, 10,000 miles from his native Torquay, where he was working on Angelina Jolie's wartime drama Unbroken.

THE SHOT

IVAN'S CHILDHOOD
YEAR: 1962       DIRECTOR: ANDREI TARKOVSKY       CINEMATOGRAPHER: VADIM YUSOV

I don't know how to pick just one shot - I guess it depends on what mood you're in that day - but there's a shot in Ivan's Childhood where the boy is crossing between the German and Russian lines that I absolutely love. It's this incredible black and white landscape, illuminated by flares like a kind of ghostly hinterland, with this downed fighter plane jutting out of the earth. I don't know what camera Vadim Yusov shot with in the water, but I'm sure it was a lot heavier than the ones we use now. He also shot Solaris for Tarkovsky, which is also a remarkable-looking film. Yusov died recently - I was sad not to have been able to meet him.

Ivan's Childhood
Ivan's Childhood
Ivan's Childhood
Ivan's Childhood
Ivan's Childhood
Ivan's Childhood
Ivan's Childhood
Ivan's Childhood

Antonioni's films always had beautiful cinematography - L'Eclisse, Red Desert, The Passenger. There's this beautiful sequence in L'Avventura where Monica Vitti and Gabriele Ferzetti stop in an abandoned town and the camera tracks down this deserted street.

I'm in Australia at the moment and have rewatched On The Beach (shot by Italian great Giuseppe Rotunno), which is set here in the aftermath of a nuclear war. There's a shot where Gregory Peck, an American submarine commander, surfaces off the coast of San Francisco to see what's left and it's just nothing. Emptiness. It's simple but beautiful.

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THE CINEMATOGRAPHERS

ROGER DEAKINS

BEN SERESIN

LAURIE ROSE

MICHAEL SLOVIS

SEAN BOBBITT

DAN MINDEL

DONALD MCALPINE

HARIS ZAMBARLOUKOS

MARCEL ZYSKIND

JO WILLEMS

MATTHEW JENSEN

DANNY COHEN

BARRY ACKROYD

BRUNO DELBONNEL

DARIUS KHONDJI

ANTHONY DOD MANTLE

CLAUDIO MIRANDA

JOHN SCHWARTZMAN

JEFF CRONENWETH

JESS HALL

JOHN TOLL

New York Film Academy

WANT TO START A CAREER IN FILMMAKING?
For a more comprehensive insight into the world of cinema and to develop your own moviemaking skills, take a look at one of the intensive courses available through the New York Film Academy.

Have Your Say
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Your Comments

1 Who are these guys?
Posted on Tuesday March 25, 2014, 13:32 by ThisIsntEvenMyDesk
Love the article, don't understand the style or effect of the images for the cinematographers. Here's kind of a picture? A bit ironic don't you think? Read More

2
Posted on Tuesday March 25, 2014, 00:32 by aeinghramshayn
Read More

3
Posted on Tuesday March 25, 2014, 00:32 by aeinghramshayn
Read More

4
Posted on Tuesday March 25, 2014, 00:31 by aeinghramshayn
Read More

5 No Roger or Emmanuel?!
Posted on Saturday March 1, 2014, 13:20 by ajlc1985
Roger Deakins' work on "The Assassination of Jesse James..." must be one of the most under-valued workloads in the history of celluloid: from the fogging of the edges of the frame to the truly breathtaking train robbery and the prologue almost makes me want to cry, it's so gorgeous. As for Señor Lubezki, well every single frame of "The Tree of Life" is a masterpiece of light composition. Plus the guy reinvented gritty pioneering verite with Children Of Men. Read More

6
Posted on Saturday March 1, 2014, 04:30 by rfreddricemer
Read More

7
Posted on Saturday March 1, 2014, 04:30 by rfreddricemer
Read More

8
Posted on Saturday March 1, 2014, 04:30 by rfreddricemer
Read More

9 Only men?
Posted on Friday February 28, 2014, 09:45 by Pandora
Thanks for this feature. It's great! I'm noticing that all of the cinematographers in this feature are men. Does anyone know any women who are good at this job? Or is it completely a male domain? And if yes, why? Read More

10 Superb!
Posted on Thursday February 27, 2014, 16:19 by Manfrendshensindshen
More of this kind, please! This feature alone would be reason enough for yet another renewal of my subscription. Read More

11 Loving these Film Studies articles, Empire.
Posted on Wednesday February 26, 2014, 09:47 by Nicky C
Very well done indeed. I'd love it if you could eventually print a book when there's enough material. I'd definitely buy it. Read More

12
Posted on Wednesday February 26, 2014, 00:27 by now_then_fella
An excellent article. More stuff like this please Empire! Read More

13
Posted on Wednesday February 26, 2014, 00:17 by Darren47
Roger Deakins should have an honorary Oscar already. There, I said it. Read More


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