Monday, December 21, 2009

Visions of Light

Arnold Glassman, Todd McCarthy, Stuart Samuels, 1992 (8.7*)
For all students and fans of the art of cinematography, this documentary produced by American Film Institute not only shows great example of cinema art, but also interviews many directors of photography (DPs as they call themselves), many Oscar® winners. As any photographer knows, the camera captures light emissions on film, so lighting is extremely important, not only for proper exposure but also for creating the intended mood for the scene. This film even goes one step further, having these artists also explain their inspiration and possible symbolism for their compositions. They also talk about camera movement, an important aspect of film viewing that keeps scenes from being so stagnant they they resemble a stage play.

Oscar®-winner (and favorite) Vittorio Storaro has extensive examples shown from The Conformist (dir by Bertolucci), Apocalypse Now (Coppola), and The Last Emperor (Bertolucci), in which he said he used red for life, yellow for the embryonic emergence into the world, and green for knowledge. These metaphors are likely noticed by very few filmgoers. Another fave of mine is also featured: Oscar®-winner James Wong Howe, a b&w master who shot Hud and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Other prominent DPs are included such as Gregg Toland (Citizen Kane), Lazslo Kovacs, Gordon Willis (Godfather), Conrad Hall, Charles Lang, Vilmos Zsigmond, Nestor Almendros, Sven Nyqvist (Bergman's DP), and more. They also talk about how they had to light certain actors, such as Garbo, Dietrich, Cooper, and what those stars demanded. Though the film was shot in 92 and therefore missed some recent masters, such as Christopher Doyle (In the Mood for Love, Hero), this is still an important documentary for serious students of cinema, and thoroughly enjoyable.


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Artist, photographer, composer, author, blogger, metaphysician, herbalist

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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

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