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Your "Top Five" Cinematographers?


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#1 Tom Lowe

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Posted 14 May 2008 - 06:04 PM

Me, probably, right now...

1. John Toll
2. Conrad Hall
3. Emmanuel Lubezki
4. Nestor Almendros
5. Chris Doyle

Honorable mention: Deakins, Fricke, Libatique, Toland, Lee Ping-Bin.
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#2 Michael Lehnert

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Posted 14 May 2008 - 06:13 PM

Right now (in alphab. order):

- Michael Ballhaus
- Renato Berta
- Michael Gornick
- William Lubtchansky
- D. A. Pennebaker


In memoriam (alph., again):

- John Alcott
- Henri Alekan
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#3 Tom Lowe

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Posted 14 May 2008 - 06:32 PM

I forgot to add Storaro, and probably many others.
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#4 anthony le grand

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Posted 14 May 2008 - 10:23 PM

My top 5 actually:

- Harris Savides
- Emmanuel Lubezki
- Mark Lee Ping Bing
- Vittorio Storaro
- Gordon Willis (not working anymore but...)
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#5 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 15 May 2008 - 09:29 AM

Just off the top of my head, in ABC order:

Deakins
Dechanel
Hall
Prieto
Storaro
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#6 Serge Teulon

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Posted 15 May 2008 - 10:45 AM

R Deakins
N Almendros
L Kovacs
M Balhaus
C Doyle
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#7 Mark Dunn

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Posted 15 May 2008 - 11:15 AM

John Alcott
Gil Taylor
Jack Cardiff
Freddie Young
Geoffrey Unsworth.
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#8 John Holland

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Posted 15 May 2008 - 11:26 AM

Mark interesting choice all British , F. Young was only at his best when working with David Lean that meant months and months waiting for the light . J.Alcott the same really he only produced great images when he was with Kubrick .
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#9 Tim Partridge

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Posted 15 May 2008 - 12:24 PM

Alcott did fantastic work outside of Kubrick, GREYSTOKE being the most obvious example.

I can't agree at all about Young, LORD JIM was great. As for Lean being the author of his images so to speak, I never cared for Jack Hildyard's work on RIVER KWAI, which isn't nearly as finessed or as photogenic as Young's photography. Outside of camera movement and art direction the lighting is pretty flat and generic. Even worse, the less said about PASSAGE TO INDIA the better...
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#10 John Holland

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Posted 15 May 2008 - 12:37 PM

Tim "Lord Jim" Super Panavision 70 great locations long shoot same thing . "Greystoke" David Watkin shot a huge amount of the studio stuff at Elstree on that one . I just think if you have the luxury of shooting for years and years in 65mm in Youngs case and you dont produce good images then there is something wrong .
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#11 Tim Partridge

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Posted 15 May 2008 - 12:52 PM

Is that true about GREYSTOKE??? Did Alcott replace Watkin?

I agree that Lean got the most out of Young but I also think Young got the most out of Lean. For that grand colour widescreen look they were the best for one another and clearly inspired on another to do their best work. I think Guy Green, Ronald Neame and Robert Krasker were the same in Lean's black and white days, so he clearly the needed the right person when dealing with colour and widescreen together.

You can't disagree that even if Young had been forced into shooting 4:3 for HBO as Ernest Day had, a Young photographed PASSAGE TO INDIA would have been a vast improvement over what we got instead. By the way, I love the stuff that Robin Browne shot for PASSAGE (the effects shots and second unit location work) but I think it's of a noticably much higher quality than the main unit sequences (all shot in medium/close up with flat TV lighting).

I would also like to add that Young's work on YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE, BATTLE OF BRITAIN, NICHOLAS AND ALEXANDRA, THE TAMARIND SEED and TREASURE ISLAND, all independent of Lean, are beautifully shot by a clearly world class cinematographer.
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#12 John Holland

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Posted 15 May 2008 - 01:06 PM

Alcott didnt replace Watkin.David was asked by Hugh Hudson to shoot it but turned it down because of the African locations and its large amount of spiders which he had a great fear of . John Alcott was then employed but couldnt start when the production started at Elstree due to prior commitments so Watkin agreed to do the studio stuff. As for Freddie Young ok been a bit harsh but i have nothing for contempt that anything that Ernest Day shot as a DP .
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#13 Tim Partridge

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Posted 15 May 2008 - 01:23 PM

Yet Watkin won an Oscar the year later for OUT OF AFRICA...!

Even in Douglas Milsome's Ernest day obituary at the GBCT site (Milsome was his AC for ten years), there is lots about his abilities and reputation as an operator (according to Milsome, Kubrick called Day "the only operator he respected"), but there isn't really a peep about Day as DP. Milsome notes that everyone felt that Day's heart wasn't in cinematography at all, and that his first love was directing. I have heard and read from various sources that Day felt let down when the phone didn't ring after he replaced another director on the action movie GREEN ICE. A shame really, because Day was a very accomplished director of action sequences. His work on SPY WHO LOVED ME and RAMBO III is about the best you can get in the genre, and has aged very well. His cinematography on the other hand always seemed very loveless, and Lean himself was apparently very bitter and regretful about hiring Day for PASSAGE.
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#14 John Holland

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Posted 15 May 2008 - 01:33 PM

Thats interesting about his passion for directing could be that operators in this country work with the director more than the DP when it comes to blocking staging etc. ."Greystoke" was shot in West Africa where there are loads of big spiders , unlike Kenya where " Out of Africa" was shot . its hot and dry.
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#15 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 15 May 2008 - 02:19 PM

I would also like to add that Young's work on YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE, BATTLE OF BRITAIN, NICHOLAS AND ALEXANDRA, THE TAMARIND SEED and TREASURE ISLAND, all independent of Lean, are beautifully shot by a clearly world class cinematographer.


I'll give you 'Island in the Sun' as a counter example.

Maybe 'Knights of the Round Table' too, but I dislike that movie as a whole. Robert Taylor and Richard Thorpe, what a combo! Though the opening scene is all blue screen.

Though 'Ivanhoe' is some what better. I particularly like the night exteriors and Finlay Currie sword fighting.
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#16 Daniel Carruthers

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Posted 15 May 2008 - 08:23 PM

My top 5 right now is

Dante spinotti
emanual lubezki
harris savides
robert richardson
roger deakins
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#17 Serge Teulon

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Posted 16 May 2008 - 06:13 AM

Alcott didnt replace Watkin.David was asked by Hugh Hudson to shoot it but turned it down because of the African locations and its large amount of spiders which he had a great fear of .


Phew, I'm so pleased to read that!!
I'm arachnophobic and I have often thought that, life as we know it can be, means that I will probably be offered a fantastic job that would require shooting in a jungle full of spiders.

Just for that can I add Watkin to my list! ;)

Alongside Rousellot.....

S

Edited by Serge Teulon, 16 May 2008 - 06:15 AM.

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#18 John Allen

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Posted 16 May 2008 - 08:38 AM

Roger Deakins
Conrad L. Hall
George Barnes
Arthur C. Miller
Freddie Young
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#19 BTCasias

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Posted 16 May 2008 - 01:14 PM

Just off the top of my head, in ABC order:

Deakins
Dechanel
Hall
Prieto
Storaro



hey bowerbank you forgot to mention Tom Stern after C. Hall
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#20 Ignacio Aguilar

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Posted 16 May 2008 - 07:47 PM

Alcott didnt replace Watkin.David was asked by Hugh Hudson to shoot it but turned it down because of the African locations and its large amount of spiders which he had a great fear of . John Alcott was then employed but couldnt start when the production started at Elstree due to prior commitments so Watkin agreed to do the studio stuff. As for Freddie Young ok been a bit harsh but i have nothing for contempt that anything that Ernest Day shot as a DP .


John, do you remember which scenes were shot at Elstree (by Watkin)? I've never heard before of Watkin's involvement on that film, not even in the AC article of the time of release. Apart from "Greystoke", John Alcott did some great work in a little known film called "March or Die", starring Gene Hackman, Terence Hill and Catherine Deneuve. It was shot in Spain, mostly in the same locations as John Milius' "The Wind of the Lion" had been two years before. But whereas Billy Williams went for a classical look for that film, Alcott was anticipating what would became the trademarks of people like Ridley and Tony Scott a few years later: a single soft source, multi-cameras, backlight with bounce cards as fill for exteriors, smoke filled interiors, pola and grad filters to darken the sky, etc to get a natural yet stylized look. Of course, he used his beloved Zeiss Super Speed lenses at wide apertures.

Coincidentally, I've just seen "A Passage to India" for the third time in my life and it's clear to me that Ernest Day was trying to imitate Freddie Young's classic style, but he was simply not as inspired as him. The film hasn't a consistent look, with some scenes that are after a natural look and others being hard lit, full of unmotivated shadows, etc. Some exteriors and night work are good, but some of the day interiors are really flat and poorly lit. The Blu-ray even shows how grainy was Kodak's 5294 (400 ASA, used for nights and interiors) as opposed to the classic 5247 (125 ASA) used for the rest of the film. It's a pity that HBO involment made it impossible to be shot anamorphic or even 65mm, as Lean had wished. I can see why Lean was so dissapointed with Day as a DP, and why he wanted to replace him with Alcott or Watkin in the never-made "Nostromo" (Lean's property master Eddie Fowlie once told me that Alex Thomson was the final choice as DP, after Alcott had died and Lean felt that the tests shot by Watkin were not good enough).

While I agree Freddie Young's was better when working with Lean (and so was Robert Krasker, Ronald Neame, Guy Green, Jack Hildyard, etc), I still think he did some amazing jobs for other directors. For instance, I love what he did with Franklin Schaffner in "Nicholas and Alexandra", which is nearly as good looking as "Doctor Zhivago", though it lacks the brief moments of Lean's visual inspiration. Of course, he was still working with John Box as production designer and even Ernest Day as operator (and that film has some epic compositions). Anyway, Young's lighting is miles ahead Schaffner's regular DP Fred Koenekamp work on "Patton" (even it was 65mm) or "Papillon".

My current top five cinematographers may be:

John Toll
Caleb Deschanel
Emmanuel Lubezki
Robert Richardson
Roger Deakins

And some of my all time favourites:

Freddie Young
John Alcott
David Watkin
Gordon Willis
Geoffrey Unsworth
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